Monday, May 23, 2011

Bloomberg's Foot-In-Mouth Disease

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg's dwindling popularity intersected with his insensitivity to people of modest means to create two embarrassing gaffes.

First Gaffe - "No Panhandlers in the Subways"

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg declared, in a very condescending tone, that there are no longer any panhandlers in the subways in New York City.

The statement left many of the Mayor's constituents shocked and puzzled. In an era of economic challenges and record homelessness in our city, the Mayor's "no panhandlers" statement suggests that he is both ignorant of the experiences of non-billionaire New Yorkers as they commute on the subway and that he is underestimating the level of suffering occurring in our city.

His condescending tone suggests that not only was he unaware that panhandlers are a major part of the subway experience but that he was very certain that panhandlers have been eliminated during a period in which homelessness and economic distress are rising. The Mayor embraced regressive taxation and has intensified the distress of low-income New Yorkers by requiring them to pay a larger share of our city's taxes. His erroneous view that panhandling had been eliminated may be influencing his willingness to demand that low-income New Yorkers take on some of the tax burden previously endured by higher earners. He needs to be reminded that regressive taxation reduced economic growth. Even if homeless were not at all-time highs, we should not ask low-income residents to pay more while high earners pay less.

Second Gaffe - "Parents Don't Understand the value of Education"

Mayor Bloomberg closed out the week by stating, "There are some parents who . . . never had a formal education, and they don't understand the value of education. The old Norman Rockwell family is gone. Some of these kids don't have parents. There's nobody to stand up for them."

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio responded calling the Mayor's comments "profoundly disrespectful" and by stating, "As a public school parent, I believe that the Mayor should admit that he made a mistake and apologize."

Other parents were outraged. "How dare he say we don’t know what we’re talking about!” said,
Zakiyah Ansari, a parent organizer with the Alliance for Quality Education, an umbrella organization representing more than 200 parent, teacher and student groups. “How dare he assume that because we’re poor or black or Latino or homeless or all of the above, that we’re uneducated, that we don’t know what’s best for our kids!”

The Mayor's performance with regard to education has obtained the approval of only 20% of public school parents (amongst all New York City residents, only 25% approve of the performance of the Mayor with regard to education). The Mayor is now resorting to attacking the victims of his failure to deliver quality education to our city after 10 years in office. This shameful behavior comes as he asserts that our city's subways no longer have panhandlers despite the record homelessness that came into existence under his watch.

Unfortunately, his third term as Mayor does not end until 2014.

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