Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's be friends, plu-eez

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had lunch Wednesday with New York's incoming public advocate, Bill de Blasio, a Democrat.

Michael R. Bloomberg, stung by an election outcome that revealed resentment over his undoing of the term limits law and his extravagant campaign spending, moved quickly Wednesday to strike a conciliatory tone as he reached out to the Democratic establishment that backed his opponent in the mayor’s race.

As aides worried that the narrow win — by a margin of less than 5 percent — would embolden previously cowed lawmakers, the mayor made clear in meetings and telephone calls with Democratic leaders that he understood that the roughness of his campaign had upset some people.

It is to be hoped that someone develops some spine, and challenges Bloomberg, denying him the option to rule without opposition.

But in his conspicuous gestures, Mr. Bloomberg and his aides also sought to send another message: we are still in charge.

That is where they have it wrong: the people are, or should be, in charge.

But tellingly, when the mayor tried to meet with John C. Liu, the Democratic comptroller-elect, Mr. Liu said he could not find time on his schedule, a highly unusual slight.

Good. Great.

Later, Mr. Liu told a reporter: “A long time ago, the people of New York decided there would be no king nor a monarch in New York City.”


The speaker of the City Council, Christine C. Quinn, another Democrat, summed up her conversation with the mayor Wednesday as: “It’s time to move on.”

Time to move on, indeed. But keeping in mind that the City Council should not be the Mayor's doormat.

Mayor Bloomberg believes people still like him, and support his mayoralty.

But the election results seemed to reveal a much more complicated relationship with those he governs. Despite at least $90 million in campaign spending, Mr. Bloomberg lost large swaths of the city to William C. Thompson Jr.: he was defeated in both Brooklyn, the most populous borough, and the Bronx, the poorest.

“There’s certainly going to be a lot of Council members who are going to take him on,” said Councilman David I. Weprin, who supported Mr. Thompson. “There is a lot of resentment.”

Good. I certainly expect them to do their jobs, which is not to kowtow to the Mayor.

As the city’s political establishment tried to understand the huge gulf between the cocksure rhetoric of the mayor’s campaign and his showing at the polls, Bloomberg aides said that they had relentlessly promoted the mayor as invulnerable in the race when they knew differently, saying it was the only way they for them to keep the Democratic establishment from rallying behind Mr. Thompson.

No one read poll numbers?

Said one top Bloomberg campaign adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect internal discussions: “If a poll had come out showing that the race was within five points, Barack Obama would have swung into town, the United Federation of Teachers would break for Thompson and Mike Bloomberg would not be mayor today.”

Too bad.

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