When Michael Bloomberg called City Council members “gutless” for not supporting a 7 percent property tax hike, it marked a sharp departure from the spirit of cooperation he tried forging after the contentious vote on term limits.
According to one City Councilman, Lew Fidler, it also contradicted the sentiment the mayor expressed in a private conversation, in which he said the mayor said it would “be better politically” if the tax hike was done sooner rather than later.
A spokesman for Bloomberg, Stu Loeser, rejected Fidler's characterization of the mayor's position on the tax hike. In an email, Loeser said, "The Mayor made it very clear to the Council, the press and the public that there were about 600 million reasons to rescind the temporary seven percent tax break six months early – and that without those extra funds, we'd just have a bigger budget gap to close this summer."
Here are Fidler's full remarks, which he emailed to reporters:
I just wanted to tell each of you that the Mayor has some frickin' nerve calling the CMs who voted no on the property tax increase "gutless". I wanted to remind all of you—or tell you if you had not heard this before—that this is the same Mayor who told me that it would be better politically to do it sooner rather than closer to the election. So who is gutless? The people who stood up and said "this is not necessary now. If we have to do it later because it becomes necessary then we will,", or the guy who says let's do it sooner so the voters might not be as mad when the election comes around.
When he called me in his round of phone calls to thank members who supported the term limits extension, he immediately went to the property tax and said—and I quote—"It would probably be better politically if we did this now rather than later anyway."
I would not share a private conversation this way if he had not made such an outrageous public comment. I guess when you have been a business executive and did not need the cooperation of democratically elected co-workers, you could function this way. After 7 years, its hard to believe that he doesn't recognize the world he works in.