2009-03-20 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Living In Mike Bloomberg's City

If you live in Rockaway, you are no longer living in your city. You are living in Mike Bloomberg's city, and it is indeed a very expensive and uncomfortable place to live.

You live in a city where only Manhattan counts and the other four "outer boroughs" are appendages, important only to provide revenue so the mayor can pursue his elitist goals.

You live in a city where your family has to earn more than $125,000 a year to be middle class.

You live in a city where small businesses are more harried and more taxed by their government than small businesses in any other city in the world.

You live in a city where the enforcement of quality of life issues such as parking and clean sidewalks have moved from a time when summonses were a punishment for doing wrong to a time when summonses become a revenue stream and everybody has to pay his or her share whether he or she does anything wrong or not.

You live in a city where cops are detailed to give tickets to everybody they can find, where environmental police give parking tickets, where sanitation workers go through your garbage, where marshals tow your cars away with regularity, where you get tickets for somebody else's garbage on your sidewalk.

You live in a city where placing "shared bicycle lanes" on busy and narrow streets becomes a priority because the mayor's elitist friends believe that everybody should be riding bikes to work and automobiles should vanish altogether from the streets of the city, particularly the streets of Manhattan - the only borough that matters.

You live in a city that spends $3 billion to find out how long it takes for pedestrians to cross Manhattan streets, at the same time the city closes firehouses at night.

You live in a city where the mayor's elitist friends can enjoy wine and champagne at Manhattan parks while Rockaway residents get arrested for drinking beer on the beach.

You live in a city where the mayor constantly trumpets his successes, citing number of trees planted, miles of bicycle lanes painted and spun educational statistics. Last week he trumpeted the fact that the city is healthier because more minority men are getting colonoscopies.

You live in a city where tourists are more important than residents, where the mayor plans to cut off vital avenues travelled by tens of thousands of residents just so tourists will have a mall.

You live in a city where the mayor gives no thought to the hardships of middle class working people so that he can address the needs of visitors, the rich and the lobbyists for his elitists causes.

You live in a city where the mayor wants to give the vital playing fields on Randall's Island in the Bronx to a few elite prep and high schools, cutting off the great majority of the city's kids, who would love to have a soccer or baseball field to play on.

You live in a city where planting thousands of trees at $1,000 a pop is more important that hiring firefighters and cops. The mayor's demand that the Parks Department plant 1,000,000 trees over a ten year period will cost the cash-strapped city a billion dollars, and, if you factor in maintaining and pruning those trees, the cost multiplies rapidly. Bloomberg has said that the trees are necessary for the city's future and its quality of life, but so are firefighters, cops and teachers.

You live in a city where it is important to treat the rich well so that they don't flee the city, but where middle class residents are treated as serfs.

You live in a city where the mayor has such an ego that he has decided that he is the only one who can save us from ourselves and who "bribed" enough City Council members with promises of goodies for their districts that they went along with his megalomania.

You live in a city where education and instruction in many vital subjects has disappeared to be replaced with test-taking skills and measuring the unmeasurable.

You live in a city where the mayor says that class size "is only a number" and that teachers "can look lots of students in the eye" at` the same time he praises a Harlem charter school for being a great success. The teacher student ratio at the school: 10 students to each teacher.

You live in a city where everything is spin and where the mayor believes that he can buy whatever he wants.

Witness some recent events and some recent statements from the mouth of Mayor Mike.

In the issue of taxing the rich:

"The wealthy are the ones that buy in the stores so that people will work in the stores have jobs in the stores, generate some tax. The rich are the ones who go to the expensive restaurants where, as a matter of fact, I looked at a list the other day and where the staff is unionized. They're the expensive restaurants. They're not the cheap restaurants. You know, the yelling about the rich - we want rich from around the country to move here. We love rich people.

"It's easy to be against the rich, but one percent of the households that file [taxes] in this city pay 50 percent of the taxes. We don't want to drive them out of the city."

On mayoral control over the public school system:

"If [the legislature] doesn't extend mayoral control of the schools, there will be riots in the streets, given the improvements we have made to the schools. Either somebody's going to be in charge, or there's going to be a committee. Either management's going to run it or the people that they manage are going to run it. Going back would be a disaster."

Get the point?

Comptroller William Thompson, who plans on running against Bloomberg in the next mayoral election, does.

"Time and time again, [Bloomberg] has proven that he will fight to protect the interests of the rich," Thompson said recently. "He cares about how he is doing. He cares about the developers who are getting sweetheart deals."

Meanwhile, while tens of thousand struggle to maintain their homes and apartments, Bloomberg owns six houses, among them vacation homes in Bermuda, Colorado and Florida. He has residences in Manhattan and London.

To this point in time, eight months before the election, Bloomberg has spent more than $3 million of his own money on his campaign, more than all the other candidates put together.

He is not your common man.

Is he a man you should vote for once again to keep him as mayor for four more years?

You know what my answer would be.

By the way, the mayor had an interesting comment during his speech at Eric Ulrich's swearing-in ceremony last weekend.

Speaking of The Wave, he said, "The community newspaper can be your best friend or your worst enemy."

He's probably right about that, and you can guess which I am going to be.

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