Tim Gunn Voting for Bloomberg -- Why Shouldn't You?

By Jane C. Timm

Tim Gunn wants Mayor Mike for a third term, don't you?

Bloomberg sent out a press release this morning, listing 68 gay New Yorkers who are endorsing him for a third term, including designer Isaac Mizrahi and a few politicos like Richard Socarides, a former Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton.

Getting out the gay vote is clearly a priority for Mike, who has courted major gay rights groups like Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), but that isn't stopping Bloomberg from quietly scuttling the gay marriage bill in the Senate through a mixture of political clout and financial sway. (ESPA declined to talk for this story, saying they were only focusing on the legislature, but the group is still absent from the list of endorsements.)

Mayoral candidate and City Comptroller Bill Thompson sees a double standard in Mike's rhetoric...

"On the one hand he's now saying that he joins many Democrats in supporting marriage equality, while on the other, he's handing over hefty sums of money to Republicans who blatantly oppose it," Thompson says.

Last week, Wayne Barrett looked at one Queens election in which Bloomberg's political and financial muscle was used when the mayor campaigned, donated, and endorsed Republican Senator Frank Padavan. The race was tight; it took three months to settle and eventually came down to 500 votes.

Bloomberg's support in the race was considerable. $1.2 million of the Mayor's fortune went to the New York State Independence Party's housekeeping account last year, but Newsday  reported that instead of going to fund staff salaries, voter registration and party buildings as housekeeping accounts generally do, "the bulk" of Bloomberg's donation went to back up Republican and Independent candidates in four key senate races -- including Padavan's. Bloomberg named a school campus after Padavan mid-campaign and campaigned in the district. Padavan later told the Times that the mayor had "made it very clear that he wants to see me stay in the Senate," and called his campaigning help "enormously helpful."

Ron Zacchi, the Executive Director of Marriage Equality New York, says that New Yorkers will be able to see if Mayor Bloomberg is honoring his commitments if the bill passes this year.

Bloomberg "should be able to bring this to a vote if he is sincere in his commitments," he says. "It's one thing to say you support, it's another thing to be able to prove it through results."

So when Bloomberg complains that the legislature still hasn't passed the  gay marriage bill -- as he did at a press conference on Wednesday, saying he wished that legislators would  "stop shilly-shallying" and pass the bill -- it makes one wonder why he worked so hard to keep Senators like Padavan back in the Senate.

"The entire social justice legislation agenda has been put into jeopardy as a result of the coup," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, says -- including a "number of pieces of legislation" that Bloomberg has "championed."

If Jim Gennaro, Frank Padavan's Democratic challenger, had won Padavan's seat, the Senate would now have an Espada-proof majority -- and would be immune to the New York Post's clown, wouldn't it?

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (D-75th District) says that the issue extends past the Padavan race.

"I think the most troubling part of Mayor Bloomberg's tenure to me is his active advancing of Republican political power," he says, adding that "certainly if Bloomberg had not been strongly [supporting] the Senate Republican in the '08 elections and previous elections, we would probably have a much more than 32 Democrats in the Senate."

And despite his vociferous support, Bloomberg's administration has sought to sink gay marriage in the courts, too. Thompson was quick to point this out. "He ignores the fact his administration appealed a court ruling finding unconstitutional a state law denying same sex couples the right to marry, and now states he's a committed supporter," he says.

Indeed, Bloomberg's first endorsement of gay marriage came at the same time his administration announced it would appeal a Manhattan judge's decision to recognize same sex marriage. The appeal overturned the judge's decision and sent the issue to the legislature.

Lieberman added that when looking at a candidate, New Yorkers need to examine a candidate's entire record -- "this is certainly part of Mayor Bloomberg's record."
 


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