Op-Ed: Bloomberg’s Bad Decisions & Arrogance Has Turned New Yorkers Against Him


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The following by Michael Goodwin appeared in Sundays NY Post:

The winter of public discontent with Mayor Bloom berg 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.

The fundamental reason is that he and his first chancellor, Joel Klein, sold themselves as national school reformers based largely on gains in standardized test scores. But when those scores fell by 30 percent in a single day, thanks to moderately higher state standards, the “mission accomplished” claim looked hollow and, frankly, fraudulent. With 75 percent of high-school grads needing remediation when they get to CUNY community colleges, rising graduation rates are also suspect.

The budget squeeze, with his plans for 4,100 teacher layoffs, is making the public mood worse. The mayor is trying to channel that anger toward Albany, saying the cuts aren’t his fault.

But the squeeze is partly a consequence of Bloomberg’s money-to-burn approach in the first terms. His 43 percent salary hikes for teachers, along with a discredited bonus program, yielded no significant concessions and helped drive up pension costs.