PLUNKITT OF TAMMANY HALL: A POLITICAL COLUMN OF AMAZING RANDOMNESS.

Since money makes the world go round, Mr. Bloomberg has been re-elected. His $90 million certainly made the difference, but not enough to give him any kind of “mandate” (though listening to him, he has one of those as well). The incredible slimness of Bloomberg’s (AKA “Bloom- bucks”) victory has been noted by those journalists who still write a few lines not favorable to our well heeled mayor.

It is troubling that the local paper in our area, The Villager, chose to endorse the mayor, apparently after months and months of paid, full page ads on their pages. Considering the great liberal tradition of Greenwich Village, the folk music, the war protests, Jane Jacobs’ and others’ advocacy for community-friendly lowrise development, etc., it truly is indicative of how low they have fallen to see this paper endorse the man who tried to shove a stadium onto the west side, detained protesters illegally at Pier 54 during the Republican Convention, and gave at least half a million dollars to the Senate Republicans (remember, the party that blocks progressive reform, works against providing affordable health care for people, and consistently fights against equal rights for the LGBT community (running out of space here) — yes, them).
 
But more troubling than a once good local paper endorsing a “pay-to-run” republican is the sad story of the New York Times being used by Bloomberg’s expensive handlers to smear Anthony Weiner, trying to keep Weiner out of the race by spreading bad stories about him to the papers. Apparently one such story involved writing about Wiener having turnover on his staff and having a temper (this comes from someone who called a reporter a “disgrace” when the reporter asked him about the term limits). The negative stories that Bloombergians peddled to the press paid off—the Times’ story six months ago about him caused Weiner to drop out. Look what money can buy!
 
But Bill Thompson could not be scared off and he came in amazingly close on election day. Since Bloomberg literally bought up (hired) all the major campaign personal early in his race to keep any rival from employing effective people, Thompson managed anyway to come in within 5 points. People say if Wiener was in the race he may have won, but that is far from certain. What is certain is that there was and continues to be a serious disillusionment with Bloomberg and his use of his millions to get what he wants. Democracy? We are currently experiencing the best democracy that money can buy.
 
But beyond the individuals involved, the fundamental issue for Plunkitt is this: Given the demise of the political party organization,* we now have money, the raising and spending of it, as the most important way to get to voters. And as we know, when one candidate has a bottomless pit of dough to spend, it literally can end a fair fight between candidates. And more troubling: The advertising age often creates a phony product and then peddles it. For instance: Hearing again and again and again how much Bloomberg has reformed the schools, people begin to think it’s true. But is it? Do you have any real evidence of that? But many people believe it to be true because they keep hearing this forceful message in full page ads and hundreds of expensive commercials. Hitler said that citizens will more readily believe a big lie than a little one, because they’ll think “people can’t be lying about something so big.” Hmmmm.....
 
Happily, the people did toss out Alan Gerson, our perhaps well-meaning but totally lame and ineffectual now former councilperson. Replacing him is Margaret Chin, community activist and longtime candidate for this very seat. She has it now and we all are watching to see how she manages all the issues in this very complex and diverse district. She deserved to win. We’ve been hearing good things about Jo Hamilton, chair of Community Board Two. A straight shooter, she has her head screwed on right and is doing less posturing and dodging and more substantive work on behalf of the people of the Village and Soho. She, apparently, is not running for any higher office. Just doing the job and not running for another office often helps to get things done (people who anticipate higher office usually act more on their own behalf so they look good and make fewer enemies, because if you do anything at all, some people will oppose you, making a potential (political) enemy). The best example of this behavior is Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who continually does what he thinks will make him look good, really only serving himself and not the people who elected him. His continual positive self spin tells us how great he is, and he knows that people are generally not well informed enough to know that what he’s doing is for the camera only. And if you want to talk about staff turnover, now there’s something to talk about here. What a mistake to buy his spin! The truth of his political pandering may become more evident in the next four years of his reign, if people even care what a borough president does, which isn’t much.
 
The people get the government they deserve. Stay informed, read about races, and vote. It’s the only way to exercise your right to self representation. But also be wary of expensive mailings, robocalls and other non-personal candidate outreach. Go to debates, meet a candidate, or at least think about what they are really doing or what they really have done. And don’t ever listen to the New York Times or be otherwise guided by their endorsement. And sadly, the same now holds true for The Villager newspaper. Money shouldn’t buy your vote.

 

From Issue:

Filed under: