From TPM Reader BC …
Thanks for airing PM’s critique of Bloomberg, which is in many ways spot-on. But to try connect the dots between those sentiments and your sense that city politics has been notably subdued during the mayor’s tenure: I think you’re right about that calm, but I also think it’s due in no small part to Bloomberg’s “dark side.”
Where Mayors like Giuliani may have been openly hostile to city agencies and NYC’s left wing nonprofit/social sector, Bloomberg has pursued a smarter strategy of wheeling, dealing and buying off these groups when necessary. By the time he was pushing to extend term limits and then campaigning for that third term, almost every NYC organization that would typically be chastising him over things like Stop and Frisk, or fudging the stats on school testing, was asking itself whether speaking out was worth losing city funding.
For some empirical evidence of this, look at Bloomberg’s 3rd term reelection: He poured $100 million into the race, outspent his opponent more than 10-to-1, and typically progressive leaders either stayed mute or outright endorsed him (Geoffrey Canada, for example – whose Harlem Children’s Zone has received at least $657,000 from the Bloomberg). And yet he barely squeaked to victory on election day against a pretty terrible opponent.
To me, that makes pretty clear that there’s a lot of deep discontent with Bloomberg, and certainly no consensus of support – but most people who feel that way only have a voice at the ballot box.