2009-05-29 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

I'm Tired Of It, But I Still Have To Take It
Commentary By Howard Schwach

I don't know about you, but I am getting tired of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's attempt to win an undeserved third term.

I get ten emails a day from Sylvia Alverez, his campaign nuchshlepper, trumpeting that one obscure group or another has endorsed him.

I get tired of seeing the full-page ads touting Bloomberg's governance of the schools and demanding that it be renewed, all paid for in some backroom by Bloomberg or his campaign.

I am tired of getting calls at home from a Bloomberg operative, urging that I vote for Bloomberg because of all the wonderful things he is going to do for the city. Last week, a woman caller started to tell me about all the jobs he was going to bring to the middle class. I stopped her and asked her about the city workers - all middle class residents - that he was going to cut. She told me that Bloomberg had nothing to do with those jobs being cut, that it was all the City Council's fault. Sure!

I am tired of getting six-page, glossy campaign literature that points proudly to Bloomberg's "Five Borough Recovery Plan."

I am tired of the imperious way he treats people.

I am tired of the way he pushes for tourist amenities at the expense of the people who live here.

I am tired of the way he panders to the Hispanic vote by attempting to speak Spanish.

In fact, I am tired about everything that Bloomberg does and says.

And, it is only June.

Bloomberg is a bully. I truly believe that he is concerned only with Manhattan and the tourists the bright lights of that borough bring to his city.

I believe strongly that he looks at the residents of the other four boroughs only as a revenue source that brings in the money that allows him to pursue his Manhattan-centric policies.

Recently, Bloomberg told a college commencement audience that the primary duty of all citizens is to serve their nation. Did I miss something? When did Bloomberg serve anybody but himself? While others were serving their nation in the armed forces, he was making millions. To now say that others should do what he never did is disingenuous.

Let's take a look at some of the facts.

When some city housing residents complained to Bloomberg about the lack of a plumber in their massive complex, his answer was to tell an arcane joke about plumbers.

Later, during the same meeting, he tried to make a point by asking how many of the inner city people in the crowd were golfers. Talk about being out of touch with his constituency.

At one point, a man got up and told Bloomberg about his father, who had two heart attacks and lost both his job and his home.

Bloomberg suggested to the man that his father go back to school to be retrained in some new occupation.

Just last week, Bloomberg was speaking about the Swine Flu outbreak in New York City and said, "In some senses, if you have the H1N1 [virus], you should consider yourself lucky because it so far seems to be a milder flu than the garden variety."

The widow of the assistant principal who died from the flu reacted sharply to Bloomberg's words.

"I'm not feeling very lucky," she said, and my kids aren't feeling very lucky either."

When a disabled reporter dropped his tape recorder at a press conference, and it accidentally started playing, Bloomberg treated him like Jack the Ripper. Then, Bloomberg gave the man a half-hearted apology that was not really an apology at all.

When the Daily News broke the story that officials at the Department of Environmental Protection had received $300,000 in raises at the same time that firehouses and school programs were being cut, Bloomberg called that sum "a trivial amount of money," adding, "No matter what our budget problems, we have to make sure that we reward people who work hard so that we can retain people who will continue to do that."

When parents in Harlem complained that their kids were not accepted to any of the schools to which they applied, Bloomberg answered, "I can tell you how to fix that. Just lower the quality of the schools. Isn't it wonderful that kids want to get into schools."

Speaking about Al Sharpton, who has endorsed Bloomberg's reelection, Bloomberg called the man who has been the worst racial arsonist in the city for the past 25 years, "a calming influence." Has he forgotten Tawana Brawley? Has he forgotten "The Rockaway Five?" Has he forgotten the Korean Grocer Boycott? Has he forgotten the fire that destroyed a row of Harlem stores after Sharpton called the Jewish owner of one of the stores an "interloper"?

"I don't agree with him on everything," the mayor said, "but, on balance, I've become over the years, a Sharpton fan."

Speaking of Sharpton, follow the bouncing ball.

Sharpton and School Chancellor Joel Klein recently started an education partnership. The moment that Sharpton stood on the podium with Klein and said how much the mayor has meant to the city schools, his organization suddenly got a $500,000 donation for the new partnership. Where did the money come from? The money was provided by Plainfield Asset Management, a Connecticut-based hedge fund, where former chancellor Harold Levy is the managing director.

Levy funneled the money to a Bloomberg-backed organization called Education Reform Now. Levy then took a tax deduction for the donation. The money was then transferred in several small payments to Sharpton's National Action Network, which does not have tax-exempt status.

See how the big boys play? Want to bet that there was some Bloomberg money in the mix? I wouldn't bet against it.

Then, there's the case of Gary Esposito, the manager of Community Board 1 in Manhattan. He was barred from a meeting where Bloomberg was speaking by a couple of Bloomberg goons who told him that they were afraid that he would cause a commotion.

His crime? He has sent an email to other community board district managers asking if it wasn't time to protest the cuts that the agency faced in the Bloomberg budget. "You're only coming to protest and disrupt the event," Bloomberg's goons told him as they took him out of the hall.

There's the real Bloomberg.

In a recent Marist Poll, 75 percent of those polled said that they would vote for Bloomberg and that it did not matter how much of his own money he was spending.

To my mind, however, Bloomberg is buying the election, and city residents should not be fooled into thinking that he is on their side.

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