2002-10-31 / View From the Middle

View From

The MiddleMayor Michael Bloomberg And That Rich Man
By Charles Rogers

The Middle
Mayor Michael Bloomberg And That Rich Man’s Attitude


Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attitude is really beginning to irk me. It’s what I would call a rich man’s attitude and, for all intents and purposes, it has its own aroma: It stinks.

One indicative case in point might be his attitude on tolls on our East River bridges. Nothing to it, according to the Rich Guy. If it is surmised that traffic will be backed up because of people fumbling for coins along, say, Flatbush Avenue as they approach toll booths, the attitude seems to be a case of "Let ’em eat cake," meaning if the drivers don’t have the electronic EZPass, they’ll have to work out some other way to get to town. He correctly says toll booths on one side or the other of the East River bridges will slow traffic, so drivers will have to use the equivalent of a "mini" EZPass, with a small scanner, which could be bought on a one-time basis "at any store," he says, to be placed in the car’s windshield and scanned as the car enters the bridge area.

During a radio broadcast last week, Bloomberg said the people who don’t have a running account with EZPass could buy single-use EZPasses at area stores. That’s nice. All a driver has to do is either spend $25 for a monthly pass, with the amount of money used for your bridge crossing (even though you may go to Manhattan only once or twice a year) is deducted from your bank account on a monthly basis.

Frankly, I do know some people who don’t even have a bank account. By Rich Guy Bloomberg’s standards, these people don’t count, however. Sounds very much like what sparked the French Revolution. The aristocrats had it and the populace didn’t and the aristocrats just didn’t consider there was another way of life.

Attitude.

Picture it. Mayor Bloomberg, along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno aboard Bloomberg’s private jet heading to Bermuda last weekend where they stayed at the Rich Guy’s digs and discussed the budget while playing a few rounds of golf. Hey, it was all on Bloomberg; paid for by his own money. Nothing wrong with that Except an attitude. You know what I mean. It’s got to be hard to empathize or sympathize with the Little People when you have a snifter of a fine Bordeaux in one hand while you gaze at a gorgeous sunset. I mean, these three people have the destiny of New York City and New York State in their hands, discussing our $1 billion budget gap and the looming $5 billion to come and — get this — the hiring freeze and cutting jobs in the city. I suppose he’ll invite the City Council to his other digs (The Riviera?) next weekend.

The guy’s got about $5 billion in assets. I realize it’s not good business to give your money away, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg — yeah, the Rich Guy — could put our entire city out of debt if he gave a mere 20% of his wealth to the city. I don’t think he’ll ever go broke.

Flash! It was announced Tuesday that Mayor Bloom-berg is the richest man to ever hold elected office in the United States. Ever. In the Great Book of Statis-tics that doesn’t mean anything. Just food for thought when you’re talking about, uh, attitude.

Do I begrudge him his money? Nahh. Would I act the same way if I was in his position? Maybe. Frank-ly, I don’t think so.

There’s an aristocratic attitude that goes with wealth that brings out a certain disdain for the common man. Whether he realizes it or not, Bloomberg’s got it.

I wish I did.


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