NEW YORK — This election season, Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg has portrayed himself as a liberal — a Republican in name only — interested in things like housing, jobs, gay rights and fighting racism. But the facts, and many people and organizations, disagree.
Bloomberg vetoed three resolutions passed by the City Council to make access to food stamps easier, even though poverty in the city is officially 21 percent. He vetoed a resolution to make “big box” stores provide health insurance for employees, even though nearly a quarter of New Yorkers have no health insurance.
And, while the housing and jobs crises are top priorities for New York voters, Bloomberg vetoed a resolution that would have helped low-income renters buy their own buildings to keep them affordable.
On Oct. 6, the Bloomberg administration announced a terrorist threat to the subways. It has now been discredited. The information was a few days old, and even federal officials were downplaying the risks. The timing of the warning, as well as the discrepancy between the federal and city response, has caused some New Yorkers to question whether Bloomberg was using terrorist threats for political gain, just like Bush.
Brooklyn resident Amanda Gonzalez told the World, “If he knew about it for that long, he should have brought it up then, and not now. I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with the election.”
Angel, from Washington Heights, suggested that Bloomberg issued the warning to deflect attention from his widely criticized refusal to debate Democrat Fernando Ferrer at the Apollo Theater, a landmark rich with historical and cultural symbolism for the African American community.
“Black people felt that Mr. Bloomberg had insulted them. I was there and saw a lot of people protesting that night,” Angel added. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he announced the threat the same day. It kept the Apollo out of the news.”
Critics say Bloomberg’s job stimulation plan is the same as Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics: give handouts to billionaire developers, and claim this will create jobs.
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a community organization working against a deal that would give big developer Forest City Ratner over $1.1 billion in city money for a private Brooklyn development, said Bloomberg lied about the number of jobs the development would create.
Instead of the promised 8,500 permanent jobs, a study found only a few hundred new jobs would be created. In addition, only 900 out of thousands of housing units would go to those earning less than the median income.
Peace activists note that United for Peace and Justice, the main U.S. peace coalition, has repeatedly had to battle Bloomberg for the right to peaceably assemble and protest in the city.
Bloomberg has never spoken up against the Iraq war, although it has taken a heavy toll on New York City’s economy. According to the National Priorities Project, the war has cost the city $6.4 billion so far.
When a state court gave the go-ahead for gay couples to wed, Bloomberg refused to allow the city to grant licenses. He also vetoed a bill that would have helped to stop the bullying of students based on their sexual orientation.
On Oct. 5, The New York Times reported that Bloomberg gave $250,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee. The Times listed numerous Bloomberg contributions to ultra-right Republicans, including President Bush himself.