Ben Smith, who runs a very popular, and powerful political blog on Politico, just published the following article, where he blasts the Bloomberg Administration and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly:
It’s Mike Bloomberg’s third term, and it seems to be going pretty much like the third terms of many politicians who can’t quite let go after eight years: Very badly.
Bloomberg, who seemed to be clawing his way back from a serious hit to his popularity following a snow storm, is now forced to cope with the impression that his powerful police commissioner is out of control, and that he lacks the sort of technocratic control of his government that has always been the central reason that New Yorkers — who never loved him — respected him.
A few weeks ago, the AP broke the first in a series of stories suggesting the New York Police Department had broadened its own remit (in concert with the CIA, which is now investigating its own role) to spy on mosques in a generalized way, and — perhaps more politically damaging in a liberal city that prides itself on diversity — to track ethnic groups per se, monitoring Moroccans in general. Bloomberg called the story “factually wrong,” despite leaked documents, and refused to elaborate.
Today’s black eye for the NYPD is video of a high-ranking officer spraying mace in women’s faces at a medium-sized anti-Wall Street protest. Kelly’s spokesman called the move “appropriate” and suggested the video was edited.
Also today, Bloomberg’s top political aide is the first in a series to testify in the messy corruption trial of a political consultant who took $1 million from Bloomberg in what was widely taken as a deal for a third-party line, and then allegedly didn’t work for the money. Bloomberg’s campaign hasn’t been charged, but does not exactly emerge squeaky clean.
Bloomberg’s relationship with Kelly has always been complicated, with Kelly the one indispensible employee, and the one Bloomberg and his staff can’t quite order around. The buck will likely stop with the NYPD, not the mayor, on the latest incidents — but they exacerbate the impression that Bloomberg doesn’t quite have his hands on the levers that run the city . To the extent that there are still public Bloomberg critics, this charge — of incompetence, basically — has largely come from the right, at the greatest length in this Commentary article by Sol Stern and Fred Siegel. It echoes in a Times story today on a badly botched IT project.
If there are executives who have rescued third terms after letting them slip this far, I can’t think of one. And it makes a third party run for president both alluring for Bloomberg insiders and extremely hard to envision.