11 January 2011

Why New York Mag's Debate Over NYC's Greatest Mayor Is Useless

Chris Smith of New York Magazine, in this week's issue, gathered together four commentators to debate the question "Who Was New York's Greatest Mayor?" They were: John Mollenkopf, Distinguished professor of political science at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and director of its Center For Urban Research; Jennifer Cunningham, Media consultant and political strategist; Bob Hardt, Political director and executive producer, NY1; and Rev. Al Sharpton.

By the end of the discussion, many were leaning in favor of Michael Bloomberg being the best man to have served in City Hall. And this is why their conclusion is useless. They apparently reached it without discussing two things. One, the fact that Bloomberg stole his third term, rigging the system in such a way as to render him as corrupt a pol as any who have served the City, little more than a power-grabbing Tammany boss. Two, that he has, over 10 years, created a New York that is possibly the most un-New Yorky of New Yorks that ever existed, homogenous, anodyne, bland, one dominated by the wealthy and the corporate, by condos and chain stores. And this is the man they concluded was New York's best mayor. Truly breathtaking.

Also, there's the small point that they didn't consider any mayors who served before LaGuardia.

Read the clueless confab here.


Shawn said...

100% agreed with your assessment. Right on point.

P.S. LaGuardia gets my vote.

Jamie said...

The chief problem is that none of the people they invited can speak to the experience of the average New Yorker.

For the average New Yorker, Bloomberg has done zero to combat rising rents, subway fares, you name it - Bloomberg has openly been a cheerleader for big business. There hasn't been a opportunity missed to pound on the little guy - whether it be driving out small businesses from the Bronx Terminal Market or Red Hook or Coney Island or Willets Point...

If you are a small business person, Bloomberg is definitely not the best mayor ever. And he shows the same sympathy towards to these folk as he displays often in press conferences about myriad issues. He not only doesn't care, he actually seems to his rocks off on beating the little guy up.

So yeah, if you are a political consultant or executive producer then maybe Bloomberg seems very erudite. But if you are a real New Yorker it's been an unpleasant 10 years.

Don said...

But this makes perfect sense when you consider who New York Mag is targeted at: yuppies who have moved past their privileged childhoods and now live privileged adult lives in the city, carefully insulated from the day-to-day indignities affecting so many of the rest of us.

They won't notice the laundromats in the neighborhood disappearing, because they live in buildings with laundry service. They won't notice their neighborhood delis closing, because they have the closest high-priced supermarket deliver their food. They won't notice subway fares going up, because they take taxis or black cars everywhere.

And so on.

New York Mag exists largely to tell these people their soulless, consumer-drivern lives are important and meaningful, and to assure them that, somehow, the city's fabric would suffer should they leave.

I, for one, wish they would.

enodo said...

Who do you think was a good mayor prior to LaGuardia? They were mostly Tammany Hall hacks.

Koch was a good mayor, at least his first term. People forget what a mess it was when he came into office.