By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
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Consider one of Bloomberg's key selling points: He says he will govern in the tradition of Republican icon Rudy Giuliani. Everyone knows that Giuliani's great success was making the city a safer place, but he did so by depriving blacks and Latinos of their civil libertiesand the next mayor will be under pressure to restore the city to a gorgeous mosaic. At a recent press conference, someone asked Bloomberg how he would treat minorities differently. Believe it or not, this is what he proposed:
"Every single week, you have a dinner in Gracie Mansion, and you invite a government employee selected at random from every one of the 30 different departments. They come with their spouses, you sit and just break some bread. People have a feeling for each other, and then you do the same thing."
Good God. If Bloomberg thinks that inviting random city employees to dinner is going to solve the color problem in this city, he's either naive or arrogant, or both. As the Voice's Wayne Barrett reported in 1999, Giuliani lost touch with the black community as a result of systematically excluding blacks from professional jobs in his administration and turning down repeated overtures from black leaders.
Based on the tentative first two weeks of Bloomberg's campaign, it's a safe bet that minorities are going to be his Achilles' heel. Like Giuliani, he promises to be "tough on crime," but we all know those are code words for protecting rich people at the expense of the poor. You can hear this sentiment expressed both by supporters (according to the New York Post, real estate brokers favor Bloomberg because a beefed-up police force maintains property values) and by detractors (a recent op-ed in Newsday argued that when Bloomberg says he can "get things done," he is signaling that he will continue Giuliani's methods of keeping blacks and Latinos under the boot).
Perhaps there is more to Bloomberg than meets the eye. According to a spokesperson, minorities make up about 33 percent of the global workforce of Bloomberg L.P., which delivers financial data and news via print, radio, TV, and the Web. (Statistics on minorities in the newsroom were not available, so for all we know, 99 percent of the reporters and editors on payroll could be Caucasian.)
Benetton-style, Bloomberg has spent freely to paint himself as a friend of minorities. In 1994, he gave 83 Bloomberg terminals worth $2.6 million to the United Negro College Fund, and since then he has become a champion of organizations for black, Hispanic, and Asian journalists, offering them internships and other incentives to enter financial journalism. Last week, he boasted that one of his board members is black.
The way things are going, it won't be long before the neophyte pol begins trotting out his successful black friends for media support. Reporters, add these Bloomberg brothers to your Rolodex:
No doubt Bloomberg will be wining and dining more people of color as the campaign unfoldshe recently told Time that he has dated Diana Ross and intends to meet with Al Sharpton. But when he's paying lip service to the working class, it's the movers and shakers who are more likely to get their needs met.