[Hpn] AN ENDORSEMENT FOR MAYOR

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 23 Oct 2005 03:34:21 -0400


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http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/opinion/23sun1.html

Editorial
An Endorsement for Mayor=20
Published: October 23, 2005
New Yorkers used to share with the rest of the nation a conviction that =
the city was, for all its good points, basically ungovernable. That =
seems quaint now - like the idea that Broadway is populated by colorful =
Runyonesque guys and dolls, or that cab drivers are all wise guys from =
Brooklyn. The city has put the financial meltdown of the 1970's behind =
it, along with its legendary icons of dysfunctional government - Fort =
Apache, subways as graffiti art, armies of homeless people sleeping in =
cardboard boxes. Three other mayors played a part in pulling New York =
out of its hole. But under Michael R. Bloomberg, everything came =
together.=20

Mr. Bloomberg, who is running for re-election on the Republican line =
against Fernando Ferrer, the Democratic candidate, has accomplished a =
great deal in four years. His greatest achievement has been to teach New =
Yorkers that good government is not a zero sum game; that even in a city =
where every neighborhood, block and building jealously guards some =
ancient prerogative, change can make things better for everybody.

.=20

Mr. Bloomberg has not been nearly as exciting, or entertaining, as =
Edward I. Koch or Rudolph W. Giuliani. But he has been better at running =
the city. If he continues his record of accomplishment over the next =
four years, he may be remembered as one of the greatest mayors in New =
York history.

Unfortunately, his chances of reaching that kind of status are reduced =
by one great flaw in his political r=E9sum=E9 - his out-of-control =
campaign spending. In 2001 Mr. Bloomberg spent $75 million of his vast =
fortune to get elected. He argued at the time that as an unknown =
Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, he needed to introduce =
himself and his ideas.

This year, with all the advantages of an incumbent, he was still =
unwilling to take on the less well-known Mr. Ferrer in an even fight. He =
bypassed campaign spending limits and blanketed the airwaves with almost =
$20 million in ads. His lavish purchase of TV time drove up the cost of =
advertising, making it even more difficult for any other voice to be =
heard.=20

Money cannot compensate for a terrible candidate; there are plenty of =
very rich men who could not spend their way into office. But it can =
undermine the election process. Mr. Bloomberg, safe in his self-financed =
campaign, has felt free to ignore the city's excellent campaign finance =
laws on every issue from spending limits to where and when he should =
debate Mr. Ferrer. The result has been a muffled, unsatisfactory race.=20

.=20

The obscene spending is particularly regrettable because it threatens to =
overshadow all the good the mayor has done. It would be tragic if Mr. =
Bloomberg were mainly remembered as the rich man who bought two =
elections, and paid far too much for the second one, when he has so many =
achievements.=20

New York policy wonks of a certain age can remember when Ed Koch was =
acclaimed for winning the right to put only two men on sanitation =
trucks; Mr. Bloomberg quietly negotiated one-man trucks on some routes. =
Mr. Giuliani won plaudits for shutting down the unpopular landfill in =
Staten Island, but failed to come up with a workable plan to get rid of =
the displaced garbage; Mayor Bloomberg offered an environmentally =
sensible solution. From the popular 311 phone system for reporting =
complaints to its generally humane solutions for the homeless, the =
administration focused on getting things done, not on getting headlines.

Under Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, the crime rate has fallen =
farther than even the wildest optimists imagined during the Giuliani =
crime-fighting years, and unlike Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Bloomberg seems to =
have no problem sharing the credit with Mr. Kelly. Perhaps most =
important, Mr. Bloomberg has managed to achieve all this in an =
atmosphere of racial harmony. He has shown that it's possible to fight =
crime without fighting the communities where most crime occurs.

Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, has run a =
creditable race, but his major campaign point - the existence of two New =
Yorks, rich and poor - actually argues Mr. Bloomberg's case. No mayor =
has devoted more effort to improving the schools, the poor children's =
lifeline. The city's public hospitals have been transformed in many =
neighborhoods. And if Mr. Bloomberg stole a page from Mr. Ferrer's =
playbook in his recently announced plan for building more affordable =
housing, it was a good page to hijack.

.=20

New York may be governable, but getting things done in a place this =
complicated still requires an intense, and perhaps even irritating, =
self-assertiveness - something Mr. Ferrer seems to lack. Mr. Bloomberg =
has no problems on that front, but he has not always managed to be in =
control without being dictatorial. To be fair, we've tended to =
appreciate his indifference to public opinion when we agreed with him - =
for instance when he stuck to his guns on a smoking ban in bars. But we =
were downright alarmed by his stubbornness in pushing for a West Side =
stadium for the Jets when most of the city thought it was the wrong use =
for a critical piece of land. Mr. Bloomberg has a daunting agenda for a =
second term, including much more work on improving the schools and a =
serious attempt to help restore Lower Manhattan. Those goals can't be =
met if the mayor piles up bad feeling and resentment.

This page cares deeply about making elections fair and open, and if Mr. =
Bloomberg's administration had been anything less than distinguished, =
his insistence on undermining the campaign finance system would =
disqualify him from our support. As it is, with that one caveat in mind, =
we enthusiastically endorse Michael Bloomberg for mayor.


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<DIV class=3Dkicker><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/opinion/23sun1.html">http://www=
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<DIV class=3Dkicker>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dkicker>Editorial</DIV></NYT_KICKER>
<H1><NYT_HEADLINE version=3D"1.0" type=3D" ">An Endorsement for Mayor=20
</H1><NYT_BYLINE version=3D"1.0" type=3D" "></NYT_BYLINE>
<DIV class=3Dtimestamp>Published: October 23, 2005</DIV>
<DIV id=3DarticleBody><NYT_TEXT>
<P>New Yorkers used to share with the rest of the nation a conviction =
that the=20
city was, for all its good points, basically ungovernable. That seems =
quaint now=20
- like the idea that Broadway is populated by colorful Runyonesque guys =
and=20
dolls, or that cab drivers are all wise guys from Brooklyn. The city has =
put the=20
financial meltdown of the 1970's behind it, along with its legendary =
icons of=20
dysfunctional government - Fort Apache, subways as graffiti art, armies =
of=20
homeless people sleeping in cardboard boxes. Three other mayors played a =
part in=20
pulling New York out of its hole. But under <A=20
title=3D"More articles about Michael R. Bloomberg."=20
href=3D"http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/mich=
ael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=3Dnyt-per"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066>Michael R. Bloomberg</FONT></A>, everything came =
together. </P>
<P>Mr. Bloomberg, who is running for re-election on the Republican line =
against=20
<A title=3D"More articles about Fernando Ferrer."=20
href=3D"http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/fern=
ando_ferrer/index.html?inline=3Dnyt-per"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066>Fernando Ferrer</FONT></A>, the Democratic candidate, =
has=20
accomplished a great deal in four years. His greatest achievement has =
been to=20
teach New Yorkers that good government is not a zero sum game; that even =
in a=20
city where every neighborhood, block and building jealously guards some =
ancient=20
prerogative, change can make things better for everybody.</P>=95=20
<P></P>
<P>Mr. Bloomberg has not been nearly as exciting, or entertaining, as <A =

title=3D"More articles about Edward I. Koch."=20
href=3D"http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/edwa=
rd_i_koch/index.html?inline=3Dnyt-per"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066>Edward I. Koch</FONT></A> or <A=20
title=3D"More articles about Rudolph W. Giuliani."=20
href=3D"http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/rudo=
lph_w_giuliani/index.html?inline=3Dnyt-per"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066>Rudolph W. Giuliani</FONT></A>. But he has been better =
at running=20
the city. If he continues his record of accomplishment over the next =
four years,=20
he may be remembered as one of the greatest mayors in New York =
history.</P>
<P>Unfortunately, his chances of reaching that kind of status are =
reduced by one=20
great flaw in his political r=E9sum=E9 - his out-of-control campaign =
spending. In=20
2001 Mr. Bloomberg spent $75 million of his vast fortune to get elected. =
He=20
argued at the time that as an unknown Republican in an overwhelmingly =
Democratic=20
city, he needed to introduce himself and his ideas.</P>
<P>This year, with all the advantages of an incumbent, he was still =
unwilling to=20
take on the less well-known Mr. Ferrer in an even fight. He bypassed =
campaign=20
spending limits and blanketed the airwaves with almost $20 million in =
ads. His=20
lavish purchase of TV time drove up the cost of advertising, making it =
even more=20
difficult for any other voice to be heard. </P>
<P>Money cannot compensate for a terrible candidate; there are plenty of =
very=20
rich men who could not spend their way into office. But it can undermine =
the=20
election process. Mr. Bloomberg, safe in his self-financed campaign, has =
felt=20
free to ignore the city's excellent campaign finance laws on every issue =
from=20
spending limits to where and when he should debate Mr. Ferrer. The =
result has=20
been a muffled, unsatisfactory race. </P>=95=20
<P></P>
<P>The obscene spending is particularly regrettable because it threatens =
to=20
overshadow all the good the mayor has done. It would be tragic if Mr. =
Bloomberg=20
were mainly remembered as the rich man who bought two elections, and =
paid far=20
too much for the second one, when he has so many achievements. </P>
<P>New York policy wonks of a certain age can remember when Ed Koch was=20
acclaimed for winning the right to put only two men on sanitation =
trucks; Mr.=20
Bloomberg quietly negotiated one-man trucks on some routes. Mr. Giuliani =
won=20
plaudits for shutting down the unpopular landfill in Staten Island, but =
failed=20
to come up with a workable plan to get rid of the displaced garbage; =
Mayor=20
Bloomberg offered an environmentally sensible solution. From the popular =
311=20
phone system for reporting complaints to its generally humane solutions =
for the=20
homeless, the administration focused on getting things done, not on =
getting=20
headlines.</P>
<P>Under Police Commissioner <A title=3D"More articles about Raymond W. =
Kelly."=20
href=3D"http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/raym=
ond_w_kelly/index.html?inline=3Dnyt-per"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066>Raymond W. Kelly</FONT></A>, the crime rate has fallen =
farther=20
than even the wildest optimists imagined during the Giuliani =
crime-fighting=20
years, and unlike Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Bloomberg seems to have no problem =
sharing=20
the credit with Mr. Kelly. Perhaps most important, Mr. Bloomberg has =
managed to=20
achieve all this in an atmosphere of racial harmony. He has shown that =
it's=20
possible to fight crime without fighting the communities where most =
crime=20
occurs.</P>
<P>Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, has run a =
creditable=20
race, but his major campaign point - the existence of two New Yorks, =
rich and=20
poor - actually argues Mr. Bloomberg's case. No mayor has devoted more =
effort to=20
improving the schools, the poor children's lifeline. The city's public =
hospitals=20
have been transformed in many neighborhoods. And if Mr. Bloomberg stole =
a page=20
from Mr. Ferrer's playbook in his recently announced plan for building =
more=20
affordable housing, it was a good page to hijack.</P>=95=20
<P></P>
<P>New York may be governable, but getting things done in a place this=20
complicated still requires an intense, and perhaps even irritating,=20
self-assertiveness - something Mr. Ferrer seems to lack. Mr. Bloomberg =
has no=20
problems on that front, but he has not always managed to be in control =
without=20
being dictatorial. To be fair, we've tended to appreciate his =
indifference to=20
public opinion when we agreed with him - for instance when he stuck to =
his guns=20
on a smoking ban in bars. But we were downright alarmed by his =
stubbornness in=20
pushing for a West Side stadium for the Jets when most of the city =
thought it=20
was the wrong use for a critical piece of land. Mr. Bloomberg has a =
daunting=20
agenda for a second term, including much more work on improving the =
schools and=20
a serious attempt to help restore Lower Manhattan. Those goals can't be =
met if=20
the mayor piles up bad feeling and resentment.</P>
<P>This page cares deeply about making elections fair and open, and if =
Mr.=20
Bloomberg's administration had been anything less than distinguished, =
his=20
insistence on undermining the campaign finance system would disqualify =
him from=20
our support. As it is, with that one caveat in mind, we enthusiastically =
endorse=20
Michael Bloomberg for mayor.</P></NYT_TEXT></DIV></DIV>
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