18 October 2008

Parade of Bought Voices


From City Room's live coverage of the City Hall hearing on a change to the term limits law that would allow Bloomberg to run again, an account of purchased and coerced opinions being congratulated by the Mayor's flunkies for falling in line. Among the cowards: Peter Gelb, artistic director of the Met Opera.

"Mayor Bloomberg has always been a great champion of opera and of all the cultural activities of New York,” Mr. Gelb said. He joked that while "it’s no secret that Mayor Bloomberg finds opera slow at times," all "kidding aside, the mayor understands the vital role that arts institutions play in the lives of our citizens."

Mr. Gelb spoke of the Met’s efforts to "bring opera to the people," and said, "Mayor Bloomberg’s unwavering support of the city’s cultural institutions has enhanced the image of New York across the nation and around the world, resulting in more visitors to our city than ever before."...

Outside the hearing, after Mr. Gelb testified, he told City Room that Mayor Bloomberg had been a supporter of the arts and of the Met, in particular. Asked whether there had been any coordination with the mayor’s office, he said, "I have an ongoing dialogue with the people in the mayor’s office. I made it known that I would be happy to testify on the mayor’s behalf." He had been waiting about 45 minutes, he said. "Of course, there has to be some kind of communication in terms of schedules regarding the hearing."

On the way out of the hearing room, he was greeted by a member of the mayor’s staff, who said to him: "Good job. Thanks so much for your help."

That same aide turned to a group of students and faculty from the Democracy Prep School in Harlem who had just testified in favor of the extension of term limits. Leading them down the stairs, the mayor’s aide said, “OK guys, good job, follow me this way.”

Once in the Council rotunda, the aide thanked the students and the principal. “You guys did a great job,” he said. “Thanks so much for coming.”


And, for the entertainment value, a kook:

Mariana Mohylyn Blume, a Republican from Brooklyn: “With all my heart and knowledge, I believe that Mayor Bloomberg is truly indispensable.” She called him a “professional” who “from childhood,” has worked hard for his wealth and success.

Ms. Blume began shouting loudly at Councilman Larry Seabrook, who was leading the hearing, after he pointed out that she had exceeded her two-minute limit. For several minutes, she shouted at the assembled lawmakers, while the sergeants-at-arms — and, finally, a plainclothes police officer — stood by politely and urged her to move on.


Do yourself a favor and read City Room's entire account of the term limit debate. It's a fascinating study in free speech, corruption and idealism. If I didn't completely resent Mayor Richie Rich for putting the City through this ordeal, I'd say it was great political theatre.

1 comment:

dragonfly said...

New York is my fav city ever. i had a chance to be there in the summer of 2002. It was purely magical. I envy all the New Yorkers, because New York is truly a state of mind. :) here is my most favourite picture: http://www.odyssei.com/travel-gallery/107875.html
See ya in the blogosphere!