Bloomberg for mayor
Four years ago, we said Mike Bloomberg lacked the experience to be a good mayor and we endorsed his opponent. We were wrong and no one is happier about that than us. Mayor Bloomberg has been the best mayor this city has had in recent times, and he has earned another four years.
The World Trade Center fires were still burning near our homes and we could still smell the horror of 9/11 when Bloomberg took office at the beginning of 2002. He put together a first-rate administration that guided the city through difficult fiscal times and made improvements in many areas. You have to go back decades to find a time when racial tensions in the city were this low and Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, deserve much of the credit. The mayor and Kelly have responded effectively to disputed police incidents and have not let them divide the city.
Contrast that with Bloombergs Democratic challenger, Freddy Ferrer, whose campaign took what perhaps was a legitimate gripe about the debate schedule and falsely escalated it into a racial issue. Ferrer seems to change his stripes every time he has run for mayor and hasnt come close to making the case for change.
Yes we have had our differences with Bloomberg. He took his eyes off the W.T.C. site and foolishly spent far too much time trying to build a stadium on the Far West Side. The mayor shouldnt have allowed Gov. Pataki to take the lead in W.T.C. planning, but we think Bloombergs call last weekend to build residential buildings on at least one of the sites parcels is a positive idea that could avoid a two-decade wait before the site is fully rebuilt. We hope that Bloomberg will continue to insert himself in the W.T.C. planning process with renewed vigor, and undo some of the damage that Pataki has inflicted on the cultural and arts elements of the W.T.C., and on the L.M.D.C. in the process.
The mayor and Kelly should be proud of a crime rate that continues to fall and for hiring a terror-prevention team that far surpasses any American city. But the citys policies have appeared to go too far at times. Street closures have hurt businesses and residents in the Chinatown/Park Row area. The crackdown against protesters at last years Republican convention and the monthly arrests of Critical Mass cyclists are the most disturbing part of the mayors strong record.
He also should have agreed to voluntarily limit his campaign spending to the limits he would have been under if he took public money. But it is important to keep in mind that the principle reason Bloomberg is so far ahead in the polls is that he has done a good job. The mayors personal fortune would be hurting him if that were not true.
Bloomberg has succeeded where his immediate predecessors have failed. He convinced Albany to give him control of the schools, which provides parents and voters someone to hold accountable. The mayor made building and preserving affordable housing a priority once again and he has reversed city policy by beginning to spend Battery Park City revenue on middle and low-income housing, as was originally intended. He has skillfully negotiated new performance criteria in union contracts.
Downtown Express, without hesitation, endorses Mike Bloomberg for mayor.