Michael Bloomberg For Mayor
Mayors have come and gone; yet, ethnic disparity in the New York Fire Department remains abysmally embarrassing. No mayor, so far, has succeeded in rectifying this condition; it remains an ugly blot that needs to be dealt with
[Race For City Hall: Black Star News Editorial Endorsement]
Michael Bloomberg was one of the earliest prominent New York politicians to side with then Presidential candidate Barack Obama at a time when many doubted that the Senator from Illinois could prevail over the powerful Clinton name. Bloomberg made no endorsement; but critically, he rejected invitations to endorse Republican candidates and was effusive about Obama's candidacy.
Bloomberg showed leadership and foresight on that occasion. Now he wants a third term as mayor of New York City. He has addressed many of the City's ills; many challenges remain.
Bloomberg has quickly changed the tone of the relationship between City Hall and the African American community, as well as relations with other ethnic groups in New York City.
Where his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani exuded animus and preferred confrontation and hostility -- in his mind perhaps he was showing how "tough" he was to a certain segment of the electorate-- Michael Bloomberg strives for dialogue and cooperation as any responsible leader should.
Where Giuliani shunned and even insulted prominent Black leaders, Bloomberg always went out of his way to meet with them and seek their counsel. In the aftermath of the tragic police killing in a hail of 50-bullets of Sean Bell, the unarmed young African American male on the day he was to be married, Bloomberg helped douse a combustible ethnic development in the City. He quickly invited prominent leaders in the Black community, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Councilman Charles Barron, to City Hall.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly also noted very early that the shooting seemed to have contravened Police procedures.
While the acquittal by a judge of the officers who killed Bell was wrong and bitterly disappointed millions of New Yorkers and the Bell family, the protests that followed were somewhat tempered because City Hall was not seen as instinctively biased against victims of police brutality. The mayor has also promoted more ethnic minorities as police commanders; this trend must continue.
And while crime has dipped significantly, and relations between the New York Police Department and New York's African American community has improved remarkably, troubling incidents such as the mistaken shooting of Omar Edwards the off-duty Black police officer who was pursuing someone who had broken into his vehicle, could sunder all the good work and goodwill.
These kinds of incidents can diminish if the officers that police these neighborhoods also live there. There is a vast difference between "patrolling" and "community policing."
The mayor argued aggressively to obtain mayoral control of schools; and to retain control over these schools. He argued, persuasively, that the past system stymied educational reform due to bureaucratic red tape and corruption, and that monies intended for students were spent supporting a bloated bureaucracy. He now points towards improved test scores as vindication.
When the State legislature renewed mayoral control this year, checks and balances were imposed to ensure that the concern of parents that their voices be heard was addressed.
Mayors have come and gone; yet, ethnic disparity in the New York Fire Department remains abysmally embarrassing. No mayor, so far, has succeeded in rectifying this condition; it remains an ugly blot.
While high rates of unemployment adversely impact all New Yorkers, the African American community is even much worse off; we would like to see more specialized campaigns addressing these anomalies.
Mayor Bloomberg sees himself as a top executive who can permanently transform governance. New Yorkers welcomed the dial-311 system: it readily provides information about City services; about events; and also lets callers file complaints about lax City services.
Even with his successes under trying conditions and amidst a national recession that's also adversely affected New York City, the mayor disappointed many who believe in the principles of democracy by extending term-limits.
Going forward, any mayor will face the challenge of maintaining critical services even while having to make budget cuts and impose hiring freezes.
On the whole, Michael Bloomberg has performed competently and remarkably well under these trying circumstances. He inherited a City psychologically and physically bruised after 9/11 and the long tenure of a mayor who thrived on ethnic hostility. Even as we commemorate that the 9/11 tragedy, New Yorkers should feel blessed that we live in a City devoid of much of the past ethnic tensions.
While critics may contend he isn't the greatest orator, Bloomberg focuses on substance, which is what counts at the end of the day.
We endorse Michael Bloomberg for an additional term and urge those who agree with our justification to vote for him. He is a transformational leader who has the potential to be a truly great mayor. His journey, so far, is a quintessential New York story marked by uncommon decency, grits, entrepreneurial spirit, and devotion to public service and the greater good.
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