Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Michael Goodwin Really Takes It To Bloomberg

Nails him on the phonied up test scores, the phonied up graduation rates, the b.s. bonus pay program that was a miserable failure, the the outside tech consultant scandals, the latest of which has seen a top official at the DOE resign after she perjured herself, uh, misspoke at an inquiry involving corruption charges against a contractor she was supposed to oversee. This scandal comes only days after the last DOE scandal when an outside consultant was arrested for stealing $3.6 million from the city with the help of major DOE vendors IBM and Verizon.

Here is what Goodwin concludes:

The winter of public discontent with Mayor Bloomberg has turned into the spring of white-hot anger. If he's got any more Kool- Aid in his emergency kit, Bloomy better break it out now because the natives are decidedly restless.

Starting with the Christmas blizzard debacle, the grievances against him continue to pile up. Hardly a day goes by without a new scandal headline, yet he seems unable or unwilling to respond in ways that would move the needle.

He spent several millions on TV ads and direct mail, but it didn't work. He fired his unpopular choice for schools chancellor, Cathie Black, but didn't get a boost from that, either.

Most peculiar, he seems stuck in a loser narrative -- that he is unpopular because he is right and everybody else is wrong. His mind is shut tight against any view except his own -- bicycle lanes uber alles -- even as New Yorkers believe his third term is a bust.

If he cares about his sinking fortunes, he has an odd way of showing it. In the twilight of his tenure, Bloomberg is becoming the Popeye of politicians: "I am what I am."

He might want to rethink that approach. The top line of the Quinnipiac poll spelled trouble and the findings get worse as you dig into the numbers. A dismal 40 percent approval rating and a 49 percent disapproval count as the good news, which means there isn't any.

A tiny 3 percent say Bloomberg's third term is better than the first two, with 47 percent saying it's worse. Most say he is not focusing enough on the job.

Bad as those numbers are, they are worse on his signature issue. The "education mayor," a tag he gave himself, is becoming a parody.

By a whopping 64-25 percent, voters turn thumbs down on his management of the schools. Among New Yorkers with children in those schools, 78 percent disapprove, and only 20 percent approve.

Overall, by 57 to 23 percent, New Yorkers say his takeover of the schools has been a failure. That could put mayoral control in jeopardy for his successor, with the unions and their lawmaker puppets eager to curb City Hall's power.

For Bloomberg, this is beyond the lame-duck danger zone -- this has the makings of a collapse. Unless his attitude changes, and he is able to convince the public he is fully engaged, I don't see how he can substantially recover.


In all its angles, his predicament threatens the essence of Bloomberg's cultivated image: savvy guardian of the public dollar, competent manager and historic school reformer.

Come to think of it, that's why he's fixated on bike lanes. He knows they'll be his third-term legacy.

Savvy guardian of the public dollar - ha!

When the Bloomberg administration finally has to show its books openly and honestly to an outside independent entity, the CityTime scandal, the Willard Lanham scandal and the Judith Hederman scandal will just be the tip of the iceberg of the corruption and cronyism that has been going during the last ten years.

As for competent manager - ha!

I have two words to retort to that - "Cathie Black"!

There's your "competent manager" for you.

And as for the ultimate outrage to me - that Bloomberg is the "Education Mayor" - well, parents and NYC citizens have seen through that jive.

The grad rates and test scores are phony. The school closings are purposefully chaotic and destructive. Same with the constant reorganizations of the system. The charter school community and the traditional public school community are deliberately set against each other by the mayor's policies. Morale in the school system among teachers is the lowest I have ever seen it. Hundreds of millions are spent on outside consultants while the classrooms and schools themselves are starved of funds. Goodwin never mentioned Tweed - just how much more money has Bloomberg shifted toward central office managers and programs and away from classroom and schools?

It is all a mess and the public is seeing that, understanding it and responding accordingly.

Ironically, people outside New York, at least in Bloomberg's natural constituency - the press and the media - aren't running with this narrative.

Bloomberg can still show up on Meet The Press or Tavis Smiley and be taken seriously as somebody who is competent, deserving of esteem, and with something substantive to offer.

Here in NYC, the majority of people and even the media see Bloomberg for who he is - an arrogant, authoritarian man with a thin skin, a bullying streak, a reputation for competence and managerial expertise that is overblown at best, totally fabricated at worst.

The tone of the Goodwin columns on Bloomberg - and the evolution of them in this third term - are a pretty good symbol of just how little esteem Bloomberg now has here in NYC.

In this way, it is good that Bloomberg won a third term, just the way it was good that Bush won a second term.

Had Bush lost to Kerry in 2004, Bush would have left office with a higher approval and popularity rate than he ultimately did because people wouldn't have seen the natural conclusion to his incompetent and corrupt presidency - the Iraq implosion, the Katrina debacle, the financial collapse spurred on by Bush policies (and Greenspan.)

Similarly, Bloomberg is taking the sole blame for the mess of the school system, for the economy of the city that sees Bloomberg and his cronies raking in more bucks than ever even as the rest of us have to fight it out for crumbs.

This reality cannot be overstated on the school issue.

In D.C., people get to say Michelle Rhee's ed reform policies could have worked if only she had been given more time and they can sound reasonable (even though the reality is that Rhee's miracle was based on smoke, mirrors and cheating.)

Here in NYC, Bloomberg and Klein do NOT get that luxury.

People can see with their own eyes what the policies have wrought.

And as Goodwin notes in his column, the mayor, who has governed the school system like a Mideast dictator with an enemies list, has assured that sole mayoral control will be a thing of the past when that law comes up for re-authorization.

So enjoy your legacy, Mike - people hate your bike lanes too.


  1. " just the way it was good that Bush won a second term."

    This is about as sensible and intelligent as your Paladino in the governor's mansion will be better for New York thesis, which is to say that it isn't sensible or intelligent at all.

    the fact that things are shitty all over isn't an excuse for rank stupidity.

  2. Talking karma, man. Talking karma. People get what they deserve - both politicians and voters.

  3. I don't know Tim - Palladino would have gotten little done. I'm afraid of what road Little Andy will take us down. As for the Bush analogy - I agree, I can't find any silver lining for a second Bush term.