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Monday, September 1, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg and the Utility of Futile Proposals

I didn’t start out inclined to like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Billionaire Biz Guy basically buys mayor’s manse—and then doesn’t live there because it isn’t swank enough. What’s to like?

But I’ve come to a position of grudging admiration. He’s a bland technocrat, but he focuses on getting things done. And, unlike his fellow Republicans (elected as a RiNO—a Republican in Name Only—now identifies as an Independent) he actually matches rhetoric about balancing budgets with—gasp!—consistent work to actually balance budgets, including raising taxes (!) when that’s what’s required to provide the services that people demand, without running a deficit.

What I especially admire, however, is Bloomberg’s willingness to move forward in the face of resistance and/or failure, particularly with regard to energy and environmental proposals.

In April of 2007—for Earth Day—he rolled out 127 proposals for “greening” New York City, from Brownfield cleanups to energy efficiency programs to park expansions.

He proposed congestion pricing for automobiles in mid-Manhattan—modeled on the program that London put into place in February 2003, and expanded in February 2007.

Most recently, he has focused on expanding wind energy production in and around New York City, on bridges, skyscrapers, etc.

Congestion pricing was shot down by the politicos in Albany who exercise unconscionable authority over what the city can and cannot do.

In at least some quarters, urban wind energy is being derided as everything from impractical to dangerous.

Bloomberg is right about congestion pricing; and alternative energy sources should be pursued wherever and whenever they can be—if they don’t prove out in certain contexts, they should be abandoned.

But it’s particularly laudable that Bloomberg is willing to FIGHT for things he believes in; it’s easy enough to give people what they want or to do things that enjoy broad and uncritical support. It’s more difficult, particularly for politicians, to buck trends.

American politicians and activists have often been at their best when they took those risky but principled stands: That’s what the anti-slavery movement did for decades; that’s what women’s rights movements have done going back at least as far as the founding of this country; that’s what mainstream politicians today (like Maverick McCain and Changeling Obama) seem to have so much trouble doing.

“We are AGAINST drilling offshore drilling!” they both told us.

Oh. . . public opinion has changed?

In that case. . .

From Obama: We are willing to look at drilling.

From McCain: “Drill Here! Drill Now!” Drill, Drill, Drill!!

Perhaps Bloomberg would be the same (constructively intransigent?) if he were only a millionaire politician—like McBama. But it looks more like it takes billions for a politician to actually stand firm.



Our Renewable Nation said...

Wouldn't it be nice if some Massachusetts leaders got enough political courage to support the Cape Wind Project. And whatever happened to the City of Worcester's buzz about their Climate Action Plan, including a new position created to implement the Plan? $50K is a small price to pay to at least look like you're *trying* to do something.

Anonymous said...

Laura responds: Maybe you wouldn't be so enamored of our bold billionaire mayor if you actually lived here. Since he's been mayor, he's made the city safe for Starbucks and Jamba Juice, while the working class, middle class and small business owners have been forced out of the city. It was his personal lobbying on behalf of the construction companies to decrease funding for building inspectors twhich led to the drastic cut in their numbers and hence, the record number of deaths of construction workers since he's taken office. He's not scared to balance the budget? Last I heard he did it on the backs of working parents in the Bronx by cutting funding for all Bronx daycare centers, causing most of them to close. Should I continue?

It's easy to make bold environmental proposals when they have no chance of passing. Then he'll always be seen as the hero, thwarted by those bureaucrats in Albany. Truth is, he's a jerk, loyal only to his own social/economic class, a true Republican in an Independent's clothing.

Anonymous said...

I know you like to conflate the two parties all the time, but I've had enough of the last 8 years, and, yes, Don, there is a difference.

Anonymous said...

Laura adds: [Bloomberg] rates right up with [odious former New York mayors] in the despicable category. Don't even get me started on Bloomberg and the First Amendment. I have no idea why the Democrats let him get away with it. A friend of mine who was playing in a band at the time of the last Republican convention was "preemptively arrested" and put in a holding pin overnight on the piers that had held toxic waste. She developed a rash all over her body. Her bandmates' saxophone was seized out of her hand and stomped on and destroyed by a malicious cop. All part of Bloomberg's deliberate vision for dealing with any protesters. I'll stop it there. His environmental policy is all part of his liberal p.r. front. Don't be fooled.

Anonymous said...

Very shorts, simple and easy to understand, bet some more comments from your side would be great