Citizen Bloomberg

How our mayor has given us the business

"Bloomberg's data-driven shtick," said one source voicing a sentiment repeated by several others, "means no one will tell him anything's failed."

As the city's "CEO," Bloomberg has managed only to track the ups and downs of Wall Street and the national economy. It's a strictly replacement-level performance.

New York went through its rainy-day reserves this year and, with the federal stimulus money spent, now faces $5 billion budget holes in each of the next three fiscal years. The coming budget crunch, says Manhattan Institute fellow Sol Stern, stems in large part from the mayor's penchant for awarding generous contracts to teachers and other public-sector workers that also add to the pension bills the mayor has at times written off as "fixed costs."

Jesse Lenz
Bloomberg LP's headquarters, the Bloomberg Tower. Nicknamed "the Death Star" by fans and foes alike, the huge screens displaying data, the glass walls, and the open floor space in place of private offices or even cubicles are all meant to symbolize "transparency"—one of the many buzzwords from his business that Citizen Bloomberg brought with him to City Hall.
Celeste Sloman
Bloomberg LP's headquarters, the Bloomberg Tower. Nicknamed "the Death Star" by fans and foes alike, the huge screens displaying data, the glass walls, and the open floor space in place of private offices or even cubicles are all meant to symbolize "transparency"—one of the many buzzwords from his business that Citizen Bloomberg brought with him to City Hall.

Pushing the idea that the city, like a corporation, has a bottom line, Bloomberg diverts attention from the fundamental issue every mayor faces: what the city ought to be doing.

So what kind of New York has Bloomberg tried to produce?

The "buck-a-year mayor" offered his business success and vast wealth as his main credentials for running New York. In office, he has envisioned a big-business-friendly city supporting a New Deal welfare state.

To make that work, he's promoted "knowledge workers" as New York's distinguishing resource, the way that waterways, rail lines, and manufacturing facilities were for industrial cities.

The mayor has often described that group (which, not coincidentally, matches the profile of Bloomberg terminal subscribers) as "the best and brightest," with no irony intended. The city now acts as its own advertisement to draw in members of the so-called "creative class" who are as likely to work in ICE (Ideas, Culture, Entertainment) as in the city's traditional FIRE (Finance, Real Estate, Insurance) base. In his typical salesman's formulation, Bloomberg often suggests that the only alternative to courting that crowd and their wealthy employers would be a cost-cutting race to the bottom.

How else to pay for the array of services the city provides if not by building a safe and beckoning environment for elites and their Ivy-educated service class to live and work in, unmolested by an untidy big city?

That promised environment is the vastly expanded and uninterrupted Midtown Central Business District, a coveted goal of the business and real estate communities for nearly a century—if one viewed with suspicion farther south on Wall Street, where Bloomberg effectively ceded control of Ground Zero to a succession of bumbling governors, a major reason that it's taken a decade for the Trade Center site to even begin rising back up.

Bloomberg has used a series of mega-plans including his Olympics bid, historic citywide rezoning changes, and pushing the sale of Stuyvesant Town to cut down what remained of working- and middle-class Manhattan. Gone, going, or forcibly shrinking are the Flower District, the Fur District, the Garment District, the Meatpacking District, and the Fulton Fish Market. Even the Diamond District is being nudged out of its 47th Street storefronts and into a city-subsidized new office tower.

"If New York is a business," the mayor said in 2003, "it isn't Walmart—it isn't trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market. It's a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product. New York offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it."

(Perhaps oddly, the mayor is a big booster of Walmart's push to open stores in the city. Earlier this month, he defended the big-box store's $4 million donation to a city summer job program, snapping at a Times reporter, "You're telling me that your company's philanthropy doesn't look to see what is good for your company?" Asked how Walmart fits into the mayor's vision, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told me on Twitter that it "fits into the strategy of creating jobs and capturing tax $$ here that are currently going to NJ and LI.")

But even as Wall Street has revived, ordinary New Yorkers haven't benefited from the promised trickle-down.

Middle-class incomes in New York have been stagnant for a decade, while prices have soared, with purchasing power dropping dramatically. Never mind Manhattan—Queens taken as its own city would be the fifth most expensive one in America. While unemployment in the city has dropped below 9 percent, through June the city had replaced only about half of the 146,000 jobs lost during the recession—and the new jobs have mostly been in low-paying retail, hospitality, and food services positions, according to the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy. Poorly paid health care and social-service jobs, often subsidized by the city, make up 17.4 percent of all private-sector jobs as of 2007, a nearly one-third increase since 1990. Only 3 percent of the private-sector jobs in New York are in relatively high-paying manufacturing positions as of 2007, a figure that's in the low double digits in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. And the jobs expected to appear over the next decade are also clustered at the bottom of the pay scale.

A Marist Poll this year showed a striking 36 percent of New Yorkers under 35 intending to leave in the next five years, with 61 percent of that group citing the high cost of living. New York State already leads the nation in domestic out-migration—and New York City has had more than twice the exit rate of struggling upstate locations like Buffalo and Ithaca. More New Yorkers left the city in every year between 2002 and 2006 than in 1993, when the city was in far worse shape, with sky-high crime rates and an economy on the verge of collapse.

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20 comments
Max Coyne-Green
Max Coyne-Green

A true shame that insatiable leftists can't appreciate arguably the finest public servant of the 21st century--especially one that has fulfilled the most ardent desires of liberals far more successfully than any of his blue-aligned counterparts. His fundamental understanding of wealth-creation, the nature of social contracting between citizens and their public servants, and the true principles of liberalism is unparalleled amongst politicians across America and perhaps the world.

Feng Ke
Feng Ke

People cannot live without friendship, but it's not esay to get real friendship. It is like a tree. We need to sow the seed of honety, use passion to water it, use principle to cultivate it, and use understanding to take care of it. In this way, the tree of friendship can grow well. ===http://www.finejie.com==== ===http://www.finejie.com===

770myspace
770myspace

You have to love this mayor so what if his employees make a lot of money he is charming sleazy deliberate flamboyant extravagant classy and rich just like NY no time for jealousy

Feng Ke
Feng Ke

People cannot live without friendship, but it's not esay to get real friendship. It is like a tree. We need to sow the seed of honety, use passion to water it, use principle to cultivate it, and use understanding to take care of it. In this way, the tree of friendship can grow well. ===http://www.finejie.com==== ===http://www.finejie.com===

Mokkaknyc
Mokkaknyc

Finally the spell that Almighty Bloomberg has had on the media and the NYCEstablishment appears to be dissipating? Bravo Mr. Siegel. I hope to see more analytical critiques of Bloomberg's three terms which will no doubt leave the city worse off than before a billionaire businessman from Boston was chosen to lead a metropolis of immigrants and working class people.

Jillsisler
Jillsisler

Wonderful article, beautifully written about an absolutely disgusting character!

Louis Profeta
Louis Profeta

I forget The Village Voice, not being near, I miss the satisfied laugh reading clever satire, good to be back finding my truth, thanks all.

Louis Profeta
Louis Profeta

Cheer Village Voice, I feel the same way of Bloomberg, he promotes Bloomberg, it makes more shekels doing that for biz, the subway rides are just a free ad, I laugh at what money goes through insecure confusion worrying about "growth" factors on a graph, subway's, sure shot. Glad you shout the news,I'm afraid, sure, right!

The disgruntled NYer
The disgruntled NYer

The fools who kept voting for this dictator have just as much blood on their hands as Bloomturd. He has remodeled this city into his own wetched image and I don't even know this city anymore. Even New Yorkers' attitudes haven't improved as he as also molded half of them as well. I wish some of the hypocritical celebrities who have backed him like Whoopie Goldberg, Matt Damon and Iman realized the dread this guy has brought to the city if they weren't so busy admiring their rich status and how Mike caters to them. The next time you see any of them walking around in a NY street, be sure to throw a rock at them and let them know the fury of the disgruntled working class.

Suzannah Troy
Suzannah Troy

Vote for Christine Quinn if you want Mike Bloomberg for a 4 term from the golf course! I was at the fore front of the YouTube resistance against Bloomberg's 3rd term starting with"Mayor Bloomberg King of NY" noting he was not going to break laws, just change them and I predicted 10 months before the election Bloomberg might not win due to Voter Anger! A month and half before the election my YouTube Channel was removed.nNorman Seigel represented me along with many people contacting Google and I got my work back. Did Wayne Barrett get fired because he reported Mike broke campaign laws which is a misdemeanor A and carries jail time. Sure hope Christine Quinn and Tony Simone are not campaigning on company time, oops, NYC gov. time!

Donny Moss
Donny Moss

As the article points out, Quinn and Bloomberg cut a deal: If Quinn strong-armed the Council to vote in favor of extending term limits (against the voters' wishes), then he would back her for Mayor and call off the Dept of Investigation's probe into her multi-million dollar slush fund scandal -- a dirty deal between two dirty politicians. If you want to help Bloomberg make more money and if you support corruption, then vote for Christine Quinn.

Gay Movie Fan
Gay Movie Fan

I was born in NYC and spent the first 52 years of my life in Queens. But four years ago I had the opportunity to move to a mid-sized "city" upstate and I took it, especially when I found out that my $70k salary would allow me to live like a king instead of the pauper I was inceasingly becoming while remaining in my beloved city. Now I can afford to own a car, own a house, don't have to look at tourists or answer their dumb questions and I find that, culturally, there are interesting museums, theatre and even art happening far away from the Lights of Broadway. I go back to visit less and less and when I do, I wonder why I ever put up with the crowds, the smells, the rudeness, the crime, the high prices and the filfth. The NY of my youth is but a memory anyway; Mayor Guili-Nazi saw to that. Get out while you can; if you get a chance RUN. New York will never be the New York of the 1940's - 1970's again.

Sammy
Sammy

This is a trenchant piece but it has some real oversights. C'mon guy, don't just tell me about the failure of the creative/service class vision I want to know what they city missed out on by chasing that dream.

It's good to see a journo willing to take on the billionaire king, but Siegel you're gonna pay for this in his fourth term when he passes full mayoral control of the press.

VJ Machiavelli
VJ Machiavelli

"The Prisoner of City Hall" is going to love to read this article.

Before there was the "Oracle at Delphi" there was Count Vampire J. Machiavelli

VJ Machiavelliwww.VJMachiavelli.blogspot.comThe Legislative Budget is Too Damn High

Anna1199
Anna1199

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, GrabPenny.com

 
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