Mayor Bloomberg Goes Party Shopping

Bloomie and Working Families agree only that he's likely to win—which may be enough

No, he wasn't going to change his position on extending federal housing vouchers to the homeless, despite the fact that family homelessness has soared under his watch. His deputy mayor for social services didn't think it was a good idea. Oh.

No, he didn't want to reform city rent regulations that have helped spawn the city's affordable housing crisis. "It is pretty hard to get evicted," the mayor told a stunned-looking Kenny Schaeffer, housing expert and Working Families stalwart.

No, he would not substitute an added tax levy on wealthy New Yorkers for the regressive sales tax he's now seeking, the mayor told Al Luzzi of the Communications Workers. "Albany raised taxes already," Bloomberg said in obvious distaste to members of a party that was the sparkplug behind that effort.

Down with the working class: Bloomberg
Samantha Lewis
Down with the working class: Bloomberg

As for non-partisan elections—the measure aggressively promoted by the cult-like Independence Party and defeated in a bitter 2003 referendum by Working Families and its allies—the mayor forthrightly said he was still for them.

Bloomberg gave equally short shrift to Cantor's final inquiry. Would he not consider public campaign financing—another key party goal—since "your great personal fortune turns what should be a fair fight, politically speaking, into an uneven contest"?

"I made every dime I have," the billionaire haughtily responded. "You can't ever have a totally fair election," he added, using his fingers as quotation marks. "Some people went to better schools than others; some people are luckier in the families that they're born into." So that's the reason.

Sitting in the audience, Lillian Gorman, a longtime party loyalist and East Side tenant activist, circled a steady series of "1's" indicating "Very Bad" on her score sheet. "The arrogance of it," she said, shaking her head. What would she do if the mayor got the party's nomination, she was asked. She looked startled. "Well, I'd quit," she said.

A few minutes later, Bill Thompson took the podium. He did not set the room afire, often reading his answers. But he did have this comment which had to resonate even with those Working Families officials so eager to give their ballot line to a generous mayor overwhelmingly favored to win: "This line means something," Thompson reminded them. "It has principles. It has core beliefs. I believe I represent those beliefs."

trobbins@villagevoice.com

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