Volume 22, Number 23 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 16 - 22, 2009
Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s push for the chance to run for re-election in defiance of two voter referenda on term limits was troubling and anti-democratic. But the courts upheld his move in the City Council, and as we have said before, we don’t think the term-limit issue is enough by itself to vote against a candidate. The bottom line is it would hurt the city not to vote for the best candidate.
And Bloomberg is the best candidate for mayor this year. Crime has stayed down and racial tensions continue to be low. The mayor has been a visionary leader. Although we have sometimes disagreed with him, he has put the city on the right track on so many issues, including the environment, public health and education.
We believe the schools have gotten better since he masterfully persuaded Albany to give him control of them seven years ago and won renewal this summer. There are many parents who disagree, and they have pointed out legitimate criticisms of the Department of Education, such as being slow to act on the pending school overcrowding problems, and not listening enough to parents.
The overcrowding had several causes, but one is a credit to the mayor — the fact that more upper-middle-class and wealthy families trust the public schools.
We know some parents will not vote for Bloomberg because of the schools, but while they cast that vote for Democratic nominee Bill Thompson or some other candidate, like it or not, they’ll have Bloomberg to thank for giving them the ability to hold mayors accountable for their children’s education. With divided powers under the old system, frustrated parents had no effective place to turn.
We were bothered by Bloomberg’s comments to us about parental involvement last week — parents have led the way in securing school space Downtown — but the school-control renewal gives parents a stronger voice than they had, and we think that will become apparent.
Thompson has served honorably as city comptroller and president of the Board of Education before that. But he did not distinguish himself in either position and we did not get a sense of his vision for the city when we sat down with him last week. He probably wouldn’t be a bad mayor, but he didn’t show us that he would be as good, let alone better, than Bloomberg.
The mayor does have limited powers at the World Trade Center, but Bloomberg has been a positive force in the disputes. Most of the blame for the delays goes to former Governor George Pataki and the Port Authority.
There are ways that Mayor Bloomberg could improve in his third term, and that will come if he and his administration consult more with the community, and take fresh looks at issues — like an ill-advised, oversized Sanitation garage for Hudson Square, a neighborhood which is ready to accept two, not three, Sanitation districts; and the need to reopen Park Row to better connect Chinatown with the rest of Lower Manhattan. But his positives outweigh the criticisms.
We have more confidence in Bloomberg to manage the city through the recession and the tough budgets to come.
The 311 system was the mayor’s idea and has given the city an effective way to log and track problems by neighborhood — prerequisites to getting to solutions. Many New Yorkers thought he was nuts when he banned smoking in bars, but now that description would be used for any politician foolish enough to reverse the ban. The focus on long-term environmental plans, the fight for mass transit capital expansion, the large expansion of bike lanes, greenlighting the High Line — “The Gates,” blocked by previous administrations, brought crowds to the city and Central Park in winter — these are all just some of the innovations of the Bloomberg administration.
There’s a reason President Obama keeps tapping our commissioners for his administration. They’re innovators who were hired by a man who is making this city better.
The Downtown Express endorses Mike Bloomberg for mayor Nov. 3.