2005-05-12 / View From the Middle

Could Mayor Bloomberg Be Back To His Old Rich Tricks? View From The Middle

By Charles Rogers

It ain’t easy being mayor of this city. That’s a foregone conclusion, of course, especially when the job has always been touted as the “second toughest job in America” (the first, of course, being president).

It took me awhile to get to like Michael Bloom-berg, with all his money and all his holier-than-thou, or, richer-than-thou expressions. “Get over it!” was one of those Bloomberg-isms that inflamed me most. When coupled with “Live with it,” the two expressions — and that Richie Rich ATTITUDE — drove me nuts.

Then, a few months after he became mayor, and things city-wise seemed to be running relatively smooth, I guess I actually followed his directions and “lived with it,” having learned to take his idiosyncrasies along with the bureaucratic slowdowns that we all deal with, on a wide or small scale.

Now, despite the fact that the city’s apparently doing okay vis-√†-vis fiscal matters, Michael Bloom-berg is back to his old posturing — making me once again wince and turn red with frustration.

Last week, when virtually hundreds and hundreds of angry tenants who live in rent-stabilized apartments, along with their landlords, were raising hell about the raises the Rent Guidelines Board had just given them (the landlords were saying it’s too small; the tenants saying it’s too big — Gosh, what a surprise!). The increases range from 2% to 4.5% for one-year leases and 4% to 7% for two years .Bloomberg launched right back into the diatribe we had become inured to by saying to the tenants: “The range that they put out is lower than I think what a lot of people expected, and if you’re a tenant, you should be very happy about that.”

Of course, the key phrases here are “I think” and “you should.” Both phrases, along with that rich-guy-talking-to-the-proletariat stuff got to me again.

Ah, but I’m already starting back on the path to giving this guy passing grades when I see what’s been happening with the city budget, which he just handed to the City Council.

Bloomberg says things are looking a little brighter, thanks to a windfall from Wall Street and real estate revenues that hadn’t been expected. Diplomatically, he intimated, “We still have to be careful what and how we spend,” but he’s seeing that some more unexpected money will be going into schools, social services and proposed tax cuts. That’s pretty good. The only problem is that now the unions are going to start competing all over again, vying for more bucks; that includes teachers, firefighters and police, all who not only need the money in their pocket, but deserve it..

Alas, when push comes to shove, we all have to admit that there are always some roads we have to take, like it or not. Bloomberg, being the leader …being the mayor…somehow has to be the guy to give us a push now and then, albeit a nice push.

As I said: It ain’t easy, especially when you have to please everybody. But that’s what being mayor is all about — something those others who are running for that office have yet to learn. Right now they’re trying to play both sides at one time, just for votes.

Bloomberg? Well, he’s already got the job and knows what string to tug on when he needs something. In other words, he’s getting better at being diplomatic....

Except when he talks with that silver spoon in his mouth.

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