Michael Bloomberg: Master of Best and Worst

I lived in New York City in April of 2008, having fled the horrors of a failed marriage and a family that had targeted me for scorn and sanctimonious ridicule because of it. Having spent a serious amount of time in the city the year before, I developed a strong connection with New York City, growing to love her skyline, her diversity, and her infrastructure. One time, I caught the A train from the 42 Street/Port Authority station and rode it all the way out to Mott Avenue/Far Rockaway, just to gain an understanding of her vastness.

I use “her” when referring to New York City because for me, she was my spiritual mother. New York healed me at a time when I was at my lowest emotionally, physically and spiritually. I got the rare blessing to live in the greatest city in the world, and still maintain close ties to the friends that live there. Hell, I even wrote poems to express my love for New York City. If the right opportunity came along, I would not hesitate to reside there again.

Michael R. Bloomberg was in the middle of his second term as mayor when I arrived there, and from what I experienced on the surface, he was indeed doing a wonderful job executing his duties as mayor, making good on his promise to make New York a “luxury product” despite being the city being at the epicenter of the financial crisis. Despite high taxes, for a poor car salesman living in the Bronx, I saw great returns on my investment in the city. Being from Baltimore, a town that at times lives in infamy due to its high crime and murder rates, I felt very safe despite living down the block from a notorious housing project known for gang activity.

Like most who have written pieces on this, the last day of Michael Bloomberg’s term as mayor, I too have been concerned about how he will be remembered. The September 16th issue of New York magazine did a great job of examining both the immense good that Bloomberg has done as mayor and the things that have gone wrong, especially with respect to poverty and homelessness. Transit workers still don’t have a new contract after over a year. The rather callous comments after the New York Times published the story chronicling the life of Dasani, a young girl living in one of Brooklyn’s most notorious homeless shelters, have not helped either.

What is sad, however, is that the controversy surrounding “stop-and-frisk” shows the most potential to permanently damage how Bloomberg will be remembered. Jonathan Capehart, who worked as a policy adviser for Bloomberg’s campaign, touched on it yesterday in his blog:

But I… believe Bloomberg was so defensive on the question of racial profiling because he felt he was being accused of something he found morally repugnant and took steps to prevent. As I wrote in the previous post, candidate Bloomberg made it a priority to change the adversarial relationship between communities of color and the police and City Hall, respectively. In his eight-page public safety plan, he specifically talked about addressing allegations of racial profiling. Ironically, the “stop and frisk” program was seen as a way to improve the NYPD’s relationship with minority New Yorkers.

It will be interesting to see what happens as the city I love so much goes into 2014 with Bill de Blasio at the helm. After three full terms of simultaneous immense growth and sharp decline, hopefully de Blasio’s populism will be well-received. Time will tell.

 

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