PLUNKITT OF TAMMANY HALL, A POLITICAL COLUMN OF AMAZING RANDOMNESS: MILLIONAIRE’S CLUB EDITION.
Lower Manhattan’s political scene is heating up in anticipation of filling spots for term limited (along with other limitations) City Council members. In 2009, along with Mayor, Public Advocate, and Comptroller, there will be openings for our local City Council seats (now held by Christine Quinn and Alan J. Gerson).
Julie Menin, millionaire chair of Community Board One, is a contender for Alan J. Gerson’s seat (some say that seat has already been vacant for years). Menin doesn’t seem to have any opposition except for Peter Gleason, lawyer/former firefighter/former police officer, who appears to have found something distasteful in her performance. He has also asked whether or not Menin’s hubby, millionaire real estate developer Bruce, is benefiting from the Trump Soho Hotel deal (the one in which a worker was killed, decapitated, late last year). Gleason is asking Menin to “say it ain’t so.” Menin has denied that there is any connection between her husband and The Donald to the SoHo Journal, but Gleason may have to wait for an answer.
“Millionaires-R-Us” is the new power base: If you have the bucks, you become a viable candidate for whatever office you can buy! In Plunkitt’s heyday, the political clubs and the unions had some real pull - at least they represented the rank and file, the folks who worked and paid taxes and worried about making ends meet. With this bright new day, we have the “Noblesse Oblige” candidates - the rich, self-anointed ones who want to prove themselves so they can gain some kind of self-validation. Plunkitt says: Get a shrink.
Note: The “Draft Kathryn Freed” campaign has begun: even the local weekly newspaper of record, the Downtown Express, has commented on this new movement. Getting former Councilmember and real activist Freed (who now serves as a Civil Court judge) back in the City Council seat would deliver us and clear the field.
Apparently, the days of community activism have been supplanted with the days of personal opportunism. And people are noticing. Take Council Speaker Quinn (Brad Hoyleman - not a millionaire - is running for her soon-to-be-vacant seat). Chris has been silent on a number of important issues facing her constituents, those poor suckers. Either that, or she outright pushes issues that her constituents’ hate, like her proposed Gansevoort Sanitation facility. When a politician forgets his or her base, they lose in future elections - doesn’t the Ruth Messenger situation in 1997 have any resonance? How quickly people forget the basic rules of political life–Messenger tried to reinvent herself as a “let’s make a deal” mainstream politician–but when she supported Trump (him again) in his massive deal to build monoliths at Riverside South, she lost big with her “people” and with the voters at large in her bid for Mayor in 1997. And we got a second Giuliani term.
And now we see that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer may be running for Public Advocate (against twice defeated Norman Siegel–and others). There are people who say: put Norman out of his misery and just let him in as Public Advocate–it’s an unnecessary position anyway, only created in 1993 to make a seat to replace the President of the City Council position, which was eliminated when the City Charter was revised in 1989. There has been talk of eliminating this seat, but it has remained a place for ambitious or otherwise unemployed politicians. Except that Siegel apparently really wants to do this work, whatever it is.
Millionaire number 2 is “Luv Gov” Eliot Spitzer, now private citizen.We want to remind you that in earlier SoHo Journals, we had predicted Spitzer would be a bad choice.We were right.
Giuliani (is he a millionaire yet? We think so) has dropped out of the presidential race, and off the radar screen competely! Thank you God! A last parting note: the former presidential candidate, in his platform speeches, endorsed the use of a technological company called Sky- Watch–it designs and builds fences of various kinds to keep all those scary illegal immigrants out of the country (you know, the people who care for your kids and clean your house — those people). When Giuliani was engaged in this type of promotion, he failed to disclose, until the 11th hour, the fact that SkyWatch was a client of his company–with Giuliani holding a 12.5% interest in it. This ranks up there with the Cheney/Halliburton/War in Iraq thing. Talk about making money off the public policies you support!When will it ever end with these people? Well, he probably will be back to torture us (verbal “waterboarding” perhaps?) in the future.
The biggest millionaire on our list, (actually, change that “m” to a “b”), Mayor Bloomberg, has mystified us all by choosing to do a money dump on New York State Senate Republicans in their sad and pathetic bid to hold onto their microscopic majority in Albany.
Bloomberg, who has said we have to look beyond party politics (”declaring his commitment to nonpartisanship” as the New York Times says it) is writing checks to the tune of a half million dollars (more now, probably) to those bastions of good government, Senator Joe (”Pork Barrel Spending-R-Us”) Bruno and Senator Serphine Maltese (no relation to the dog), and other Republicans who are anti-New York City, anti-gay, and anti-everything progressive. Mr. Bloomberg, at least put your money where your mouth is. This is not where your mouth has been!
One more thing: The downtown parking placard debacle (when our streets are filled with the parking-plaqued vehicles of city employees driving into Manhattan from Queens, Long Island or Westchester in their cars) continues with the mayor saying he doesn’t know how many have been issued (50,000?). That, with his failed efforts to pass congestion pricing made for one unpalatable plan. Yeah–let city employees drive in, clog the streets, and then get free parking while the rest of us pay and suffer. Thank you Mayor Mike!
Note: New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is our last millionaire in or aspiring to public office, but we don’t do Jersey. As far as we’re concerned, they’re all on their ow