To hear Mayor Bloomberg’s critics tell it, he is an out-of-touch elitist who can’t be trusted to clear the streets of snow, never mind manage the schools, balance the budget, keep neighborhoods save and develop job-creating economic policy.
That’s funny—hasn’t the mayor been doing all those things, and more, all these years? And isn’t it likely that he’ll continue to do just that for the remainder of his term?
The response to last month’s blizzard was screwed up—no doubt about it. And the mayor’s initial reaction certainly betrayed a less-than-common touch. Sure, Mr. Bloomberg’s job description includes serving as the city’s cheerleader-in-chief during tough times, but when he advised New Yorkers to head to Broadway regardless of the snow, he obviously wasn’t thinking of people in Brooklyn who couldn’t get to the corner store, never mind Broadway.
Still, a botched snowstorm is hardly a reason to condemn a decade’s worth of improvement in almost every aspect of New York life. Those who pile on Mr. Bloomberg now clearly have been in hiding since 2002, when Mr. Bloomberg inherited a shaken and wounded city that had every reason to doubt it could match the great revival of the 1990s. Mr. Bloomberg mourned with us, and then got down to business. The result? Continued victories in the skirmish on crime (it used to be called a “war on crime,” but it’s so one-sided now that it hardly qualifies as “war”), improvements and innovations in public education, rational labor settlements, creative economic development and a visionary emphasis on sustainable growth.
There’s a reason why Mike Bloomberg is in the middle of a third term as mayor. New Yorkers recognize that he has done a first-rate job. It doesn’t matter that the mayor is not exactly a typical New Yorker. Voters know all about his wealth and high-flying lifestyle. They know about the golf weekends and the vacation homes and everything else that comes with being a billionaire.
Here’s the issue: New Yorker’s don’t resent Mr. Bloomberg’s good fortune. What they would resent is incompetence, stupidity and inefficiency. That’s why so many citizens reacted as they did in the blizzard’s aftermath. The screw-up was out of the ordinary. It was not what we’ve come to expect from Mike Bloomberg’s City Hall.
Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor will not be defined by a snowstorm. Those who insist otherwise clearly have not been paying attention.