Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Mayor in Search of a Legacy

For years it seems New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been searching desperately for a way to leave his mark on the city. If Dinkins was known for bringing back the beat cop, Giuliani for cleaning up Times Square, just what will Bloomberg be remembered for? If you ask me it's precisely that--he's just looking to be remembered. First he chased the boondoggle of the West Side Stadium which was supposed to make us a more attractive candidate to host the 2012 Olympics. Then he spent millions of dollars for an ad campaign on television, bill boards, subway cars and buses promoting the idea of hosting the Olympics to New Yorkers, as if somehow we were the ones in control of the decision. The stadium was shot down by the city council and the Olympics were nixed by the Olympic committee. So, at this point it seems Bloomberg will mostly be remembered for his nanny-state legislation banning trans fats from New York City restaurants. After all, the public can't be trusted to make its own decisions about what to eat.

The latest idea being bandied about by the Bloomberg administration is a congestion fee for all cars wishing to drive below 86th Street. It worked in London, so why shouldn't it work here? Never mind that the building boom Bloomberg presided over to attract new businesses and tourism is in large part responsible for the added congestion on the streets of Manhattan. The proposed fee is $8 which is on top of the tolls and fees it already costs to enter the city through most bridges and tunnels, not to mention hefty parking fees once you get here. The congestion fee is supposed to be incentive for commuters to use mass transit, but what it amounts to is a commuter tax on the working class. What else is new? The logistics of such a tax sound complicated and difficult to enforce and would not go into affect for at least 3 years. Also, it must first be approved by the State Senate which could take some time.

In the meantime, in his latest attempt to be business-friendly, the Mayor has sunk to a new low prostituting the city out to Sony Pictures in declaration of Spiderman Week. That's right. A whole week full of Spidey festivities to promote the release of Spiderman 3 this Friday. Martin Luther King and Columbus only get a day and we don't even celebrate Washington's or Lincoln's birthdays anymore, all the presidents must now share one day, but Spiderman gets a whole week! There will be various events at businesses participating in the festivities which supposedly will draw tourists far and wide. Of course, if this event were held three years from now all those folks flocking to Manhattan for Spiderman Week would have to pay an $8 congestion fee just for the pleasure. Brilliant.

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At 3:25 PM, Blogger KipEsquire said...

"If Dinkins was known for bringing back the beat cop..."

Dinkins is known for playing tennis while Crown Heights burned.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Kip, Yes, sadly, that is the legacy Dinkins is most known for, but on the positive side he is rarely credited with the beginning of the reduction in crime in NYC for which Giuliani likes to take all the credit.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Donnie said...

I never understood why politicians "needed" a legacy as their terms are at an end. But then again, I guess that's why I never ventured into that arena.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Matt said...

As much as I love New York, I'm glad I don't live there.

On the flip side, you've mentioned to me how much you love Seattle - but, be glad you don't live HERE. :)

I think there should be a Michael Day. Or Week. I'd celebrate.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Spider said...

You make a week of Spiderman festivities sound like a bad thing... LOL

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Diane said...

I don't hate Bloomberg. I agree with the misguided West Side stadium/Olympics thing, but I do generally believe he thought that would be a good thing for the city (in terms of bringing more commerce). As for a legacy, I think he's trying to make his legacy laying the groundwork for making New York a truly green city. I can't quarrel with that -- that's a noble thing. Whether or not the congestion tax works as they hope it will remains to be seen. But as far as I'm concerned, I'd rather see a congestion tax than a mass transit fare hike. That is TRULY a tax on the working class. And as far as I'm concerned, his legacy will be 311. Potentially one of the smartest most effective changes implemented since he entered office.

Aren't you glad I finally got around to setting up my google account??? I'm like a commenting demon now!


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