The Dark Side of the Bloomberg

From TPM Reader PM

I’m a longtime reader of TPM who also works in NYC as an advocate for low-income people. And I think your comments about Bloomberg fundamentally miss how damaging and harmful his mayoralty has been for working class and poor people and New Yorkers of color – and with all due respect, also speak to the disconnect between white professionals’ views of Bloomberg and the real-life impact of his policies on millions of people.

The news media’s default take is that Bloomberg’s time in office has been better than Giuliani’s – less of the shouty, less of the rage and conflict. But there’s actually been remarkable consistency in governing from Rudy to Bloomberg, and many things that have gotten worse. From an NYPD that stops-and-frisks New Yorkers more than 500,000 times each year, the vast majority of them black and Latino; to Bloomberg’s stonewalling of court-ordered changes in racist hiring practices at the virtually all-white and all-male Fire Department; to Bloomberg’s refusal to support even watered- down paid sick leave and living-wage legislation; to spiraling housing costs, many resulting from the Mayor’s policies; to all-time record homelessness (record 48,000 people with 20,000 children each night in municipal shelters, up by more than half since Bloomberg took office) – life has gotten worse for the majority of New Yorkers over the past decade.

Nonetheless, for white professionals and denizens of Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn (including many news reporters, editors, and producers), the picture of Bloomberg’s New York is far different – as is the picture the news media paints of Bloomberg himself. There the Mayor’s abysmal record on poverty, economic justice, and race gets washed away in favor of talking about his anti-smoking ban and soda cup sizes. And even his messy and hypocritical political dealings – funneling millions to pro-gun Republican State Senators, the disgraceful way he purchased a third mayoral term for himself, etc. – get washed away.

So, the “organic” politics you think you see bubbling back up has never gone away – I’d say it’s that the news media has flagrantly ignored it for a decade in favor of an easier, if flimsier image of a man who is, not coincidentally, a media mogul himself.