I can’t recall another New York City mayor who matches Michael Bloomberg for arrogance and disregard of the rules of the game. The list of his self-serving reversals started with his switching political parties from liberal democrat to ersatz Republican, then back to Independent. His changes of heart continued with his arm-twisting the City Council to extend a third term for him to be able to lead our city through our national economic crisis without regard for the two previous referendums in which New Yorkers clearly voted for term limits and his adamant support of that. At first, Bloomberg welcomed the advent of a local trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed in the same downtown part of the city so devastated by KSM’s handiwork, claiming that this would show the superiority of our legal system. After several other politicians changed their minds with the realization that this would be a security nightmare costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars, the mayor too jumped ship, arguing that this was too expensive and disruptive to contemplate. Bloomberg seized the opportunity to grandstand his support for the Ground Zero Mosque before the Landmarks Preservation Commission had an opportunity to evaluate the project for themselves. Of course since the members are appointed by the mayor, there may not have been a good chance of an independent ruling but one should at least give committees the benefit of the doubt. That was precluded once Bloomberg, posed before the Statue of Liberty, proclaimed with maximum fanfare that building the mosque precisely at its Ground Zero location was essential for the preservation of the values American hold true. He added that contrary popular opinion could only be interpreted as religious bigotry against Muslims. As expected, the Landmarks Commission found no redeeming landmark status in 45 Park Place, the Italian Renaissance Palazzo built in the 1850’s and bought by Muslims to serve as the Cordoba Mosque.
Michael Bloomberg had previously shown his disregard for the boundaries between his own preferences and his workplace when he contributed a million dollars to name a building at Franklin & Marshall College in honor of Patti Harris, a deputy mayor who was on our payroll at the time. The notion of conflict of interest didn’t interfere with the mayor’s inclination to smugly satisfy his own. His selection of Cathy Black as School Chancellor despite her lack of essential credentials was just another instance of governance by fiat. Most significantly, it has now been revealed that the mayor’s administration has been in cahoots with the developers of the Ground Zero Mosque from the beginning, working to get them not for profit status and to ensure the support of the local Community Board as well as the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This extended to having the city’s Community Affairs Commissioner, the 33 year old Barnard educated Nazli Parvizi (on our payroll for $177,000/yr) write the letter which Daisy Khan (the Imam’s wife) submitted to the Community Board. The long arm of our short mayor has infiltrated every aspect of this project, politicizing it to a far greater extent than community opposition ever did.
On Christmas Day, it is useful to remind ourselves of a pivotal timely thought and to secularize it to read Render Unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto the populace that which is theirs. The populace of New York City is entitled to a mayor whose hands will not over-reach the separation of powers and guidelines for governance created to forestall exactly what we now have: an imperious ruler who imposes his will instead of a mayor who considers the will of the people.
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