How Bloomy Bloomed

Blunders, Billions, and Backstabbing Beat Green

Clearly, once the firing became a Sharpton-Ramirez-Ferrer public demand, Green could not cave to it without hurting himself among white voters, who were already leaving him in droves. The question is why Green didn't suspend Kest—who does not even claim he told the elected officials not to do the leafleting on their own—when called by the News before publication, as Bloomberg later did with a Staten Island staffer caught in a similar controversy.

But just as tellingly, the other question is whether Ferrer, Sharpton, and Ramirez, who had their own celebratory Election Day party in the Bronx that night, thought only a gray-haired scalp could establish their renegade clout. Ferrer, who repeatedly called it "a stretch" to suggest that his actions accounted for the 40,000-vote margin, seems to want to be seen as having punished Green without simultaneously being viewed as having elected the man he had breakfast with the next morning. "Did I put a gun to their heads?" Ferrer asks about the 40 percent of his voters who told exit pollsters they'd switched to Bloomberg.

Mark Green was a principled progressive leader who remained true to core beliefs in a 20-year public career, a rarity in this business. He has been driven from the city stage by Bloomberg's billions, his own blunders, and backstabbers as petty as he sometimes was. As consistent a liberal as he was on issues that matter in black and Latino life, he could not, in the dying days of his career, hear their voices or respond to their anguish. He could not get outside a cocoon of color and class that was his Seinfeld world. The very quality that made him admirable—his strong-willed independence—became his undoing, preventing him from finding a deal that would have put Ferrer at his side by Election Day.

No one, not even Bloomberg, knows what kind of a mayor he will be. Garth cannot say if Bloomberg will be more like Lindsay, Koch, or Giuliani. The new mayor is being praised for sitting with Ferrer, Rivera, and Sharpton, but these visits were more thank-yous than reaches across a divide. He is faced with a challenge that makes us all want him to be as good as his business success promises, transcending Giuliani mythology and truly leading a city as wounded as it is wonderful.

Research assistance: Sam Dolnick, Jeffrey Herman, Whitney Kassel, Jill Nawrocki, Lisa Marie Williams, Katie Worth

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