Monday, November 4, 2013

Make It a Landslide

In the race for City Hall, Bill de Blasio leads Joe Lhota by a very impressive 45 points. Reported the Times, “a whopping 87 percent of likely voters say they expect Mr. de Blasio to win.” It seems a safe bet that New York will finally have a Democrat and a progressive for mayor for the first time since the reign of Giuliberg began. But it won’t happen if de Blasio's supporters don’t show up and vote.

Back in 2001, we all thought Mark Green would become our mayor.

Before the terrorist attacks on 9/11, no one gave much serious consideration to Michael Bloomberg and his mayoral run. When he entered the race, running as a Republican, he was a novelty item, a largely unknown billionaire looking to buy his way into politics. Journalists at major magazines agreed he was just running for the publicity, and that he’d never win. Michael Wolff wrote in New York, “there is no turn of events at all, no leap of logic whatsoever, that could make Michael Bloomberg New York's next mayor… We don't have to worry.”

He was seen as prickly and uncharismatic, as an egomaniacal mogul with a bunch of sexual harassment lawsuits against him and his company, and as a mumbler who could not put his political platform into words. Explaining how he’d decided to run for office, Bloomberg told one group, "My great conundrum was, Could I be the best mayor the city has ever had?" New Yorkers simply weren’t impressed with the guy. They could see he was in it for himself. Said one constituent to The New Yorker after a Bloomberg speech, "He seems not quite able to articulate why he'd want to be mayor…other than the fact that he wants to win and he doesn't like losing.”

During his campaign, Bloomberg turned people off with several offensive statements—about women, police officers, money--even insulting Staten Island, the city’s bastion borough of Republicanism. Then the joke book came to light. Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg had been created a decade earlier by the CEO’s staff members as a birthday gift. A collection of the slurs and off-color remarks frequently made by their boss, the booklet included several pages of insults against gays, Jews, and women—and, perhaps even more damaging to a mayoral hopeful, against the outer boroughs. “I make it a rule never to go to Queens,” read one, “and since that eliminated both airports, I don't travel a great deal.” In the section on women, Bloomberg is quoted, “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they'd go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale's.” Referring to his computer system, the Bloomberg terminal, he was said to quip to his employees, “It will do everything, including give you a blowjob. I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business.”

With Bloomberg already on the ropes, the joke book should have knocked him out. News of this campaign killer broke in the first week of September 2001, just before the primaries, and the story kept growing. On September 9, in the televised Republican primary debate, Bloomberg’s opponent Herman Badillo slammed him with the joke book, calling him a sexual harasser. To which Bloomberg dismissively responded, “Let’s move on.” Of course, 48 hours later, that’s exactly what we had to do. The most unfathomable turn of events had come along, and the joke book was promptly forgotten, buried in the ashes.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 changed the way New Yorkers viewed the controversial Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In an instant, he went from being reviled to beloved. For his handling of the tragedy, Oprah Winfrey baptized him “America’s mayor,” Queen Elizabeth knighted him, and TIME magazine named him Person of the Year. In the final campaign week of the mayoral election that fall, a race already grievously disrupted by the events of 9/11, Giuliani endorsed Bloomberg as his replacement. The New York Times called it “the crown jewel of endorsements,” due entirely to Giuliani’s post-9/11 popularity, and it immediately propelled the novice Republican ahead of front-running favorite, the Democrat Mark Green.

The people of New York, frightened and traumatized, put their trust in Giuliani’s judgment, allowing themselves to be convinced that only a corporate CEO could dig Wall Street from the rubble, resuscitate Downtown, and help the city avoid financial ruin and social chaos. With the dust still hanging in the air, in a city distracted and dissociated, Bloomberg was elected mayor on November 6, 2001, narrowly defeating Mark Green 49% to 47%. Without the events of 9/11, it’s highly unlikely that Bloomberg would have come to power, and the city today would be a very different place. As one Daily News reader wrote to the paper’s editor in September 2011, "Our city suffered two tragedies a decade ago: the 9/11 attacks and the election of Mayor Bloomberg. The former tried to destroy New York City; the latter succeeded."

Tomorrow, send a message to Bloomberg and the city. However you feel about him, a vote for Bill de Blasio is a vote against Bloomberg's vision of the city, against the past 12 years of destructive policies. Make this win a landslide. Show up, vote, and let the world know that New Yorkers are ready for a different face of New York.


Anonymous said...

You realize he isnt running against Bloomberg, right?
De Blah Blah will ruin this city

But at least his son has a cool afro
And the rise in crime will give the city it's "grit" back which may chase home all the poseurs.

Very little of what you hate about Bloomberg i.e. overdevelopment, will change under DeB. And things that you obviously haven't thought much about are about to get a lot worse. This man owes LOTS of favors, it will bankrupt the city , make it a less safe city, with poorer education and more government dependence. Welcome to the 70's.

Vote wisely.

Little Earthquake said...

Another election?? We just had one. This country is annoying sometimes.

cathryn said...

Thank you for this fantastic overview. Much of this I'd forgotten so long have the Bloomberg years been and so compliant has so much of the mainstream media been in ensuring it IS forgotten.

Great piece! Thanks so much.


vzabuser said...

Go Bill Go

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Anonymous, but deBlasio is running against Bloomberg and the entire contemptuous attitude the joke book exemplifies.

What a triumph if we could get back the 70's! if only. Rents that artists, writers, and diverse New Yorkers could actually afford, a Village that wasn't a midwestern college campus, great coffee houses, and thousands of locally owned businesses. If you love the "safe" franchise life so much--why not move to Ohio?

Brendan said...

Crime is not going back to the 70s. De Blasio couldn't make that happen if he wanted to. In five years we'll never have to listen to that nonsense again.

rick mcginnis said...

I've got news for you - Bloomberg was a Trojan Horse Republican, and conservatives have nothing but contempt for the man. So that part of your argument really doesn't fly, I'm afraid.

laura r. said...

"J": you are well meaning. but look@the facts. you (not me) voted for a president (BO) as a reaction against bush. when in reality he was put there to carry on the bush agenda. he wasnt elected he was selected, as many of our presidents were for quite a while. this may be a replay. they put in a horse of a different color, another delivery, & what do you get? "same". the global developement was already in place, this man cannot & will not stop it. possibly he can get some affordable apts sectioned off in th newer high rises for middle income/poor. then you have all the special interest groups blocking them, because theres a seperate entrance. just an example. i do hope he can do SOMETHING reasonable. maybe subsidizing rents for small businesses. it is dispisable to me that these post college 40somethings want a dirty NY w/crime. i grew up there, & found that era gross. thats fine for a lou reed song, but lou had a house in the hamptons. my family moved 3xs plus in NY to get away from that. 4 generations moving around. i resent the "interlopers" on this blog wanting to RE trash NY. i dont want chain/boxstores, but i dont think blasio gives a damn about that. btw, guiliani did some good things for the city. bloomburg retracted those, but thats another conversation.

Anonymous said...

I understand not liking Rudy or Bloomberg as people, but, but, BUT- do not try to sell me that they were "bad" for New York. I've been in NYC almost everyday for the last 20 years and came here as a kid plenty in the 1980s. NYC has never been better. It's NOT even a debate. The problem with NYC these days (this blog covers it well) and I don't mean this as a back-handed compliment. NYC today is for 2 types of people: millionaires & billionaires. You can't be "just a guy" with a family and live here. Way too expensive. Regardless of who wins on Tuesday- they will have major, major, major shoes to fill to match the progress, growth & vibrancy that NYC has enjoyed over the last 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Its telling that DeBlasio, the purported champion of affordable housing, rents one of the 1BR apartments in the property he owns for $2500.

Thats right: DeBlasio charges tenants $2500 for a 1BR apartment.

Whatever your thoughts about affordable housing, and the viability of simply wishing it were available, the fact that at the most personal level he has chosen to charge people what the market will bear speaks volumes.

Why isn't he willing to personally underwrite his vision of egalitarian society?

Two New Yorks indeed.

Caleo said...

With all due respect to the writer of one of my favorite blogs, DiBlasio is not in a position to stop the overdevelopment that's been in overdrive for the whole of Bloomberg's reign. If he could that would be nice, but he literally doesn't have the clout or the insider connections to do so. He might throw a monkey wrench into the works, but he can't stop it.
Bloomberg rezoned the bulk of Manhattan for luxury development and DiBlasio is not going to un-rezone it.
Too much money is at stake. DiBlasio knows who really runs and owns this city, and he won't touch those people. And despite all the noise, he also knows what policies and programs have turned NYC into the safest big city in the U.S., and he's not going mess with that either. There are many, many things about New York as it stood until the mid-90's that made it the greatest place on earth. High crime was not one of them. We don't have to go back to the 70's to see high crime. The early 90's had an annual homicide rate that approached 3000. Today it stands at about 400. To brendan and anyone else who got here 15 minutes ago, if you think that level of mayhem and violence disappeared on it's own, then no amount of actual evidence will ever convince you. When I was young and dumb, I had a reflexive distrust of all authority, including the Police. As I've matured, and gotten to be friends with several officers, my opinions and perspective have changed.
I will never rationalize or condone abuse of authority or police brutality, but if any of you had any idea what many of New York's finest have to face on a daily basis in order to keep this city safe, you might do an about face in your attitudes about crime, and how NYC went from the most violent city in this country to the safest. It didn't just happen as if by magic. Real human beings have to put their ass on the line, literally, to keep it that way, and it can also go in the opposite direction if the lid isn't kept screwed on.
I'm not a native, but I've lived here my whole adult life, since 88', and it really pisses me off when people who have only lived here for a decade or less seem to think that safe streets happen by accident.
Get real.
As far as DiBlasio, I don't think he is capable of doing as much damage, or good, as many seem to think. A new face will be refreshing after 3 terms of Bloomie, and as a father of 2, I like his ideas for universal pre-k. Only time will tell if he can have a real impact on the forces that have overdeveloped this city, and once again help turn this city into a livable town for working people, but I seriously doubt he can have a real impact there.
As always, I love this blog and thanks for letting me vent.

Brendan said...

Anon 4:50, are you referring to this New York Times article?

Read more carefully. It does not say that he charges $2500 for a one-bedroom.

Then again you probably just made it up.

Kyle Campion said...

Anon @ 3:52 said:

"The problem with NYC these days (this blog covers it well) and I don't mean this as a back-handed compliment. NYC today is for 2 types of people: millionaires & billionaires. You can't be "just a guy" with a family and live here. Way too expensive." --- Um, yeah - aside from that whole not being able to live here thing, this city is MUCH better! Sure, you might not be able to enjoy it but at least it's gotten much better for transplants and wealthy foreigners.

God, some of you people really need to think about what you're saying. How can you say NY has gotten better when NY is no longer in reach for most NYers? Isn't NY more than a collection of buildings and streets?

Say what you want to say about De Blasio but the guy is a HUGE improvement over Bloomberg without ever stepping foot in City Hall.

D. Berrios said...

Voters elected Mayor Mike Bloomberg three times. He was elected because he knew how to lead. We had Democrat mayors. They were not good. Beame was a total failure. Koch could not get crime under control. Then Dinkins. Muggings. Squeegee men. Riots.

It was very hard for middle class and poor New Yorkers. The rich had their parties and debutants. They had their clubs and the good life. Bonfire of the Vanities. Metropolitan. But for poor and middle class people it was terrible. Crack. Shootings. Cars broken into. Rapes. Stabbings. Fighting off attackers on the subway by shooting them.

People said enough. Giuliani cleaned things up. He was there for New York after the September, 11, terrorist attack. Mayor Bloomberg continued cleaning the city up. It is beautiful today. New parks. Clean streets. More new buildings than Giuliani. Better schools and lots of charters. Lowest crime in decades. No race riots. This is why Bloomberg kept winning. If he could only have a fourth term.

Lhota was not the right candidate. Many are hoping and praying that things don't turn back. New York is so much better these days. Just don't let it go back to all that crime and violence. That was horrible. Especially for middle class and poor people who had to live through it. Please don't let the city go back.

If 1+1=2 And 2/1=2 And 4/2=2 .. Awwww Nevermind said...

To follow up on Brendan's reply, that NY Times article, besides saying that de Blasio is a wonderful landlord according to his current and former tenants, reports that in 2011 his rental income (for the 1 BR and 2 BR apartments combined) was $47,500.

Dividing $47,500 by 12 one finds that he received $3,958 per month for the two apartments, so assuming that the 2 BR rents for proportionately more than the 1 BR, one can conclude that the 1 BR rents for substantially less than $2,000 per month; maybe $1,500 per month.

And there's one other tidbit there; quoting directly from the NY Times article: "His campaign has responded that because the expenses on the property — including property taxes, mortgage interest and depreciation — exceeded the revenue from rent, there was no net income to report. In 2011, for example, his tax return showed he earned $47,500 in rental income and had $62,200 in deductions."

The $2,500 per month figure for the 1 BR presented by Anon 4:50 PM was poor Anon's misunderstanding of what he read in the NY Times article which read: "The women would not disclose what they paid in rent — one-bedrooms in the neighborhood typically rent for about $2,500 — but all said they were fair market prices." Anon 4:50 PM probably just got flummoxed by the big numbers.

Brendan said...

Caleo, I don't think safe streets happen by accident, nor do I have anything against the police or deny that they're important.

But you have to deal with the fact that crime plummeted in every city in America in the last 20 years. And you have to deal with the fact that, statistically, there is no demonstrated correlation between police stops and frisks and crime. In fact the police stopped far fewer people in 2012 than in 2011, once they started getting sued, and crime continued to drop and reached record lows.

Again--the police are important. Without law enforcement there's no city. I'm not disputing that. But you can't look at the evidence of the last 20 years and not see that there was something bigger going on. Giuliani and Bloomberg can't take full credit for it and de Blasio can't reverse it.

As for gentrification and rising costs, you're right, de Blasio won't reverse it. Bloomberg didn't cause it, either, though I think he threw fuel on the fire whereas another mayor with different priorities could have mitigated its bad effects. I'm hopeful de Blasio can do that, to some extent.

I never knew the dangerous New York and I don't romanticize it at all, believe me. I just don't understand how people think that having a liberal mayor is going to bring back 1990 crime levels. They're never specific. What is the mechanism supposed to be? What's the chain of cause and effect?

I also find it irritating to be told that because I've only lived here for "fifteen minutes" (aka ten years) I'm not supposed to have opinions on what kind of city I want to live in. I want to live in a city that respects the constitutional rights of all its citizens regardless of their race, for one thing. That alone would give me a reason to vote for de Blasio, as I did this morning.

Anonymous said...

Typical American political discourse: sweeping generalizations meet flat-out lies meet irresponsible speculation.

In the meantime, half of you probably can't even tell me the name of your Congressperson.

It's all just loud, postured talk with you people.

5th Gen. said...


New York City didn't magically appear in 1988 when you moved here. There weren't always squeegee men and high crime. Crime actually started declining during the Dinkins administration, not the Giuliani administration, though Dinkins was not a particularly competent politician (or mayor). I am not a big Giuliani fan, but he did do a lot to bring crime down in the city, more as a US Attorney than as mayor. Dinkins introduced community policing, not Giuliani.
Broken Windows theory is a joke. Crime has gone down nationwide since the apex of open air drug bazaars in alphabet city, and safety in the city has more to do with macroeconomic and other social factors than top-down policing.

De Blasio is no panacea, but he will be a welcome change.

laura r. said...

3:52 anon- yes you CAN be just a guy, not a billionare. there are many ethnic enclaves in queens brooklyn bronx staten island upper e harlem. there are millions of immigrants arriving everyday (service class). these are the places you will get a good deal on an apt. dont forget there are also bus drivers, police etc. they have to live somewhere fairly close.

Anonymous said...

Michael Bloomberg was the mayor of Manhattan.
Hopefully Bill DeBlasio will be the mayor of New York City.

Caleo said...

Brendan- Major demographic changes brought about by gentrification have played a large part in bringing down crime in NY, but aggressive policing played a huge role in bringing down violent crime during Giuliani's first administration. I'm not a fan of Giuliani, and I certainly wasn't when he was mayor. But he instituted changes that cleaned up the streets, there is no question about it. Criminals operated in broad daylight, everyone who lived here witnessed it or was a victim of it. Then they were gone. The difference is like night and day. Did Police often go too far ? Yes.
Did Giuliani overplay his hand ? Yes.
I'm not sure where you're getting your figures about violent crime going down, but it certainly hasn't gone down in Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Chicago or Rochester, my old home town. It's gotten much worse. It's gotten much worse in many Rust belt cities, for several obvious reasons. It's gotten worse in Newark and Camden, New Jersey. But even if violent crime wasn't worse in those cities, referencing what is going on there, as opposed to what clearly happened here with genuinely huge drops in violent crime is a bit disingenuous. Police aggressively removed known felons from the streets. They removed literally thousands of unregistered handguns from the streets. That is how Stop-and-Frisk started, and initially, it worked very well. Those handguns and the guys who carried them were responsible for enormous amounts of mayhem. That mayhem came to a screeching halt.
Brendan, I didn't say DiBlasio would bring back crime by simply being elected. I said the opposite.
I don't think he will be as good, or as bad, as his supporters or opponents seem to believe. There is a lot of projection going on. As I stated above, at this point major demographic changes that have taken place in the last 15 years in many neighborhoods will insure higher levels of violent crime don't return. But folks who have only lived in a "safer" New York must always remember that there are still violent felons out there, and there are still people who want to prey on other folks for fun and profit. You should actually get to know some police officers. They actually have real world experience and their opinions about crime in New York actually count for something. They are definitely not all evil, racist robots. In a sincere effort to address issues of social justice, many progressives get to the point where the Police are the enemy and criminals are portrayed as victims.
Brendan, I'm not saying that's you, but many folks on the left act and speak that way. I used to be an activist, so I know this from first hand experience.
5th Gen.- When did I say the city magically appeared when I got here ? What are you talking about ? Did you even read what I wrote ? because you basically reiterated everything I said.
Finally, to our gracious host, I apologize for an excessively long response. I hope DiBlasio has a positive impact on the city all of us love, for all of us to enjoy. Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

There was a typo on the 1BR rent value of De Blasio's apartment: it's $2,200, see

So, for those who came to his defense as a champ of affordable housing, thinking he'd was probably setting the rent at a One New York level of, say, $1500, does it make a difference to you that its in fact set at a price only a gentrifier can afford?

'Cause that's the crux of the argument: if he's landlording at high market value, he must have some exceptional ideas about why other landlords should be cutting their rents (and I say this as a renter).

laura r. said...

caleo, your are very correct. crime has escalated across the US, but has gone down in NYC. guiliani was good w/that aspect. there have been a flurry of attacks in the last several months (union sq, madison sq garden, broadway midtown, w.s. highway, w/vill etc.). also some bad muggings over the last yr. (elevetor muggings etc). i agree, police are needed, i never had a problem w/them on NYC or boston. they have always been helpful. during the "long hot summer" (the famous one), the police rode w/me in the subway car as i was alone. when he changed cars he took me along. your comment was well written.

Rambler said...

You nailed it on this one. Sept. 11 doesn't happen Green wins easily.


Brendan said...

Caleo, laura,

Crime declined nationwide from 1992 to 2011, not just in New York.

I don't know about every city. I do know you're mistaken about Chicago, a city I know very well. Crime declined sharply there since the early 1990s. I'm sure there are exceptions (Detroit obviously), but overall America's major cities got safer.

Anon 8:53,

$2200 is not expensive for the middle of Park Slope and a person paying it is not a "gentrifier" in that neighborhood, which is already wealthy and has been for some time. Also as the commenter above pointed out, he must have been charging the previous tenant under $2000 and actually lost money on the house doing so. There are enough valid criticisms of de Blasio without this silliness.

Caleo said...

Brendan-Not to belabor the point, but according to the Index of Crime Statistics from the Chicago P.D., violent crime took a sharp drop in 2004 following the adoption of crime fighting tactics recommended by the NYPD.
According to the same FBI crime index you referred to, Chicago's murder rate grew from 431 in 2011, to 500 in 2012.
The FBI crime index showed a slight rise in crime on a national level in 2012.
Cleveland showed marked increases, with only a slight dip in murder.
New Orleans has shown increases in violent crime after a dip the year following Katrina.
Detroit speaks for itself.
The point to all of this hair splitting is to respond to your original assertion that crime has been dropping nationally and no one knows why. In many 2nd and 3rd tier cities crime has not been decreasing. In many of the largest metro areas where violent crime has decreased, it has been explicitly due to the adoption of tactics and techniques from the NYPD, often due to their direct recommendation.
In many cases we know why crime has been dropping, and it is due to the implementation of specific policies that were successful here. It is also due to demographic changes and several other factors. But claiming that policing has nothing to do with it just doesn't stand up under scrutiny. I stand by my original point in regards to this that you bringing up declining national rates in an attempt to make a point about declining rates in New York is a bit disingenuous. We know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, why crime declined in NYC. And it was the adoption of successful tactics by other major metropolitan areas, by their own admission, that brought down violence in those cities.
And with that I will no longer beat this dead horse.