After 12 years under the billionaire mayor Bloomberg (4 more than was legal), the city has undergone massive, catastrophic change. In his drive to create a "luxury city" built exclusively for the wealthy, Bloomberg rezoned nearly 40% of the city's land mass, and much of that was up-zoning--knocking down old buildings, evicting residents and businesses, using eminent domain to steal people's property, so the real-estate developers could erect towers of glass loaded with amenities for the super rich.
Under Bloomberg, we watched our small mom-and-pop businesses struggle and die, while national and global chain stores proliferated exponentially like bedbugs. Many of those small businesses had been in the city for decades, run by third- and fourth-generation families. If you tally up all that history, well over 6,000 years of independent business were lost during the Bloomberg era.
Rents and home prices skyrocketed as neighborhoods were gentrified, and then hyper-gentrified. In Harlem alone, prices went up 222 percent between 2000 and 2012. The cultural heart of the city has atrophied, as artists can no longer afford to live here. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer, as the city's inequality gap is now on par with parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Vital parts of the city had their souls ripped out. Coney Island was leveled and is becoming a suburban shopping mall. Times Square was turned into a suburban shopping mall. Bleecker Street was turned into an upscale suburban shopping mall. I could go on...
We desperately need the anti-Bloomberg. That is why I am endorsing Bill de Blasio for Mayor of New York City. With a focus on repairing inequality, he's the only candidate who's saying "We need a real break from the Bloomberg years." The rich are afraid of him. He wants to tax the wealthy and "Take money away from big company subsidies," turning it into loans and tax incentives for small businesses. He wants to save our hospitals and create affordable housing. He was the only candidate in last night's debate to say that the real-estate industry is a problem for the city. As he said, "this city has been available to everyone, it's been open to everyone, anyone could make it here. That is now slipping away."
We need a mayor who will stop the bleeding. Bill de Blasio is not perfect, but I believe he's our best choice for the next mayor of New York City, and he's getting my vote. (Also, I'd like to stop writing this blog and if Quinn wins, the vanishings are sure to continue.)