Dear Editor (of the Times Ledger):
I think I have finally figured out what the connection is between Mayor Bloomberg and the fact that the quality of life has actually worsened in this city for ordinary working people, especially those of us living in the outer boroughs.
It's not anything in particular that the Mayor has done or hasn't done; it's not about specific policies or even his philosophy of government. Rather, it is his style of governing and the tone in which he carries out the duties of his office that is helping to make the city unlivable for everyone who isn't rich and must depend on government services.
His style is to remain aloof and emotionally detached, to evoke a blithe indifference to the suffering of others, and to trivialize major failures, to wit, the blackout in Western Queens that went on for days on end last summer. While others would be called arrogant for evoking such a stance, the Mayor seems to be able to get away with it, in part because the media establishment has given him a free ride, and in part because people tend to admire billionaires.
His tone is that of the corporate CEO. He chooses false collegiality over the kind of bare-knuckled advocacy that puts people in fear, and as his predecessor Giuliani proved, gets things moving. Besides refusing to criticize the CON-ED CEO during the blackout, after the latest debacle where the entire subway system failed because of a rain storm, Bloomberg refused to turn the spotlight on the the MTA Chairman and publicly rebuke him for the sufferings of millions of New Yorkers who only wanted to get to work.
If the Mayor were less of a businessman and more of a public leader, people in high places would take his position more seriously; if they were more fearful that they would be held accountable to the public, they would have an incentive to do their jobs more effectively. In Bloomberg's privileged world, the higher up you go, the more removed you are from public scrutiny. Why fear the wrath of the masses when they have no one to speak for them? So the reasoning goes, and where there should be positive change, there is only chaos and decay.
Great letter, John. Apparently, the folks at New York Magazine feel more strongly about him than you do, though:
Can somebody please punch this man?
Parsing Bloomberg's Latest Mindf*ck