Bloomberg Tries a California-First Approach to Reform

Michael Bloomberg is having another run at Albany lawmakers, but this time, he’s taking a less direct approach.

At an event in midtown yesterday afternoon, Bloomberg said he was donating money to help Arnold Schwarzenegger’s effort to push nonpartisan redistricting in California and said he hoped the efforts out there would advance the issue here.

If California could do it, Bloomberg said, it might “shame” New York lawmakers into doing likewise.

Speaking of redistricting with Schwarzenegger and television host Charlie Rose at the Four Seasons, Bloomberg said, “Charlie, I don’t think you can understate how important this is. I’ve given Arnold a lot of money toward this.”

He added, “If you can do it in California, maybe they’ll do it in New York. I can‘t think of how else to get it done in New York other than to maybe shame them into doing it.”

The thing is, lawmakers in the Albany have shown themselves to be particularly resistant to shame-based persuasion, most recently during the fight over the West Side stadium and congestion pricing, during which the mayor’s public scoldings resulted in the Legislature moving not an inch.

After the event, I asked Bloomberg to elaborate on his strategy for reforming the redistricting process in New York.

“I don’t know what I would have to elaborate on. What was not clear?” Bloomberg said.

Reminded eventually by another reporter that he had twice alluded to shaming New York into taking action, the mayor said, “I’m just helping California and I’ll see whether that makes any difference. I don’t know how to get New York to change the redistricting here. But Arnold Schwarzenegger is leading a redistricting effort in California—why not help him? If California has better democracy than us, maybe you’ll demand that we do it here.”

Bloomberg Tries a California-First Approach to Reform