There’s no surer sign of big political trouble than to have CBS TV’s Marcia Kramer on your case, and this week it is Mike Bloomberg’s long-awaited turn on the receiving end. Bloomberg promptly proved he’s feeling the heat by getting all prickly and calling Kramer — a prominent City Hall presence for decades — “Miss” and trying unsuccessfully to head her off at the pass.
The moment came Monday as Kramer put the mayor on the spot during his press availability, demanding that he tell a wondering city why he needs to keep his weekend whereabouts secret. The question, long pondered by reporters, has at last caught on with politicians in the wake of Bloomberg’s absence in the lead-up to last month’s blizzard. Queens councilman Peter Vallone Jr. has introduced a bill to compel the mayor to let us know when he’s out of town, and who’s in charge when he’s away.
The Kramer-Bloomberg set-to commences at the 1:20 mark here with an off-camera Kramer speed-firing her query:
“Don’t you think the public has a right to know whether you’re in charge, who’s in charge..”
Bloomberg, peeved, interrupting: “I’ve told you, Miss, that I’m…”
Kramer, voice rising: “Peter Vallone says…”
Bloomberg, trying for small smile: “I don’t know what Peter Vallone says, you should talk to Peter Vallone…”
Kramer, unyielding: “…that in times of a terrorist attack, when cell phones go down, electronics go down, the right to know who’s in charge.”
Bloomberg, more peeved: “The mayor was in charge all the time.”
Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani can all tell you that no good comes of having Kramer on your case, and her teeth are bared for this one. Her segment is dubbed: “Where is Mayor Mike?” After the Monday exchange, she picked up the issue outside Martin Luther King Jr. High School: “So the real question may be whether Mayor Bloomberg is able to use his influence and prevent the Vallone bill from ever coming up for a vote.”
For those wondering why it has taken so long for the mayor’s unexplained weekend absences to grab hold in the media, we direct you to Joyce Purnick’s Bloomberg bio in which she included this quote from a former mayoral aide: “He does his radio show Friday morning,” a former aide told her. “At 11:05, the latest, he’s in his car. At 11:30 he is at the airport. His plane is in the air at 11:40, he’s in Bermuda at 2:10. He’s on the golf course by 2:30. . . . Almost every weekend, spring and fall.”
Thanks to Richard Lipsky, the irrepressible lobbyist-pundit, for calling our attention to the classic Bloomberg-Kramer banter. We missed it . We were out of town.