Wednesday, October 31, 2001


My correspondent and young ward, Richard Bensam, reports this honest-to-god actual political scoop!

My household just got one of those prerecorded calls from the Mike Bloomberg mayoral campaign, the usual deal with a tape of him exhorting citizens to vote for him. It being Halloween and all, I was sort of hoping he'd try a Count Floyd riff -- "Ooooo, that Mark Green sure is scary, isn't he, boys and girls?" -- but no such luck. (On the other hand, can you do much better than "Mike Bloomberg for Mayor" in the spine-tingling department?)

Anyway...the interesting part of this is that we have caller ID, and saw precisely where his automated call originated from. It was from the 314 area code: eastern Missouri.

So this fellow is running for Mayor of New York City in a time of dire economic need for the city, on a platform of creating new jobs and business opportunities through his financial acumen. And yet his campaign is spending its money outside the city, outside the tri-state area...all the way over in Missouri, presumably to take advantage of cheaper labor costs, when there must be outfits perfectly capable of handling this sort of operation inside the five boroughs.

Hey, we have banks of telephone operators, we have poster brigades, we have goons for hire...and New York needs the jobs. We've shown we could do the job in the past. I say, let's support the guy who hires New Yorkers to do the scutwork for him.

Frankly, I have "issues" with our likely next mayor, Mark Green. A few years ago, when the NYC Rent Control laws were very nearly allowed to expire, Green took the intellectually dishonest, populist position in favor of Rent Control for Everyone in Perpetuity. Sure, he drew lots of cheers -- he might as well have been coming out in favor of Ice Cream for Everyone! -- but a more honest assessment would require acknowledging that rent control actually causes more harm than good to the local economy, and that the challenge for the next Mayor is to find some way to gradually dismantle rent control without causing undue hardship for those who have come to depend on it.

On the other hand, Bloomberg is a political dilettante and a craven opportunist who wants to buy his way into public service through the top echelon, without learning anything about the arcana of New York City governance from the inside and bottom first. Even with his virtual carpet-bombing of the media with glitzy commericals and an impressve portfolio of endorsements -- what a humiliation for both Giuliani and Pataki to have to endorse this transparently phony Dem-hastily-turned-Republican for the good of party unity! -- it's still amazing to me that Bloomberg is polling above 20%.

(My favorite part of the Bloomberg radio ad spot is the very end, where -- right after a slick professional announcer has finished extolling his virtues, some guy who sounds more like a Sopranos wannabe comes on to say the "Paid for by Bloomberg for Mayor" tagline. What -- they couldn't afford to pay the professional's going rate for two more seconds of studio time?)

It pisses me off that Green would ever demonstrate a Clinton-like willingness to put his finger to the wind before opening his mouth -- but this seems to have been an aberration. On balance, he's been candid and forthright far more often than not, and like Giuliani, he's not afraid to cut to the chase and call 'em as he sees 'em, even if he comes off sounding like a bit of an egotist and an ass. Those are exactly the qualities we need in the guy who succeeds Giuliani, and I intend to vote for him.


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