Friday, April 30, 2010

Michael Bloomberg and the Mayors

("He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper," via ytimg)

Its like Michael Bloomberg has this weird Elder Brother relationship with his fellow Mayors (and Arnold). It's positively creepy, as if he has some disgusting voodoo power over the heads of all the urban municipalities in the country. All these chieftains with their necks bared in suppliance appear eager to learn How-Does-One-Mayor? at the foot of The Oldest.

The latest news that our mogul-Mayor has hired former Republican Indianapolis Mayor Goldsmith to become his Deputy is ... interesting. It is, of course, a net plus to the people of New York City. We get, essentially, two Mayors for the price of one (notwithstanding what Bloomie pays in city salary and post-political perks out of his personal fortune; Bloomie takes care of his allies). But how odd -- and there is no other way to describe it -- is it that an urban star the calibre of Stephen Goldsmith, whom Politico's Ben Smith describes -- correctly -- as having been "a Republican star in the late 1990s, a pillar of George W. Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' approach in the form of a Republican who really cared about the details of urban policy," would relent to being, well, #2?

Up-and-coming urban powerhouses Adrian Fenty of DC and Cory Booker of Newark also sing Bloomies praises with almost religious undertones. Part of this is, I believe, because of Bloomberg's billions (he's the 23rd richest man in the world). It allows him to not worry about the political realities of raising cash (banal) and pandering too much to constituencies. Being independently wealthy has allowed Bloomberg to make New York into something of a social laboratory, allowing him to work his political alchemy in, for example, education policy.

This is the ideal of every young Mayor. Before they sour, confronting the political realities of urban politics -- think: The Wire's Mayor Carcetti -- every young Mayor wants to be able to operate as freely as Bloomberg does. A weak City Council; the ability to pick his lietenants from urban arenas sround the country; a free hand; untold billions at ones disposal. This creates, curiously, a sort of Elder Brother-Younger Apprentice relationship between Bloomberg and his colleagues (and, of course, Arnold)

It is a relationship that this blogger finds endlessly fascinating, particularly because the Mayoralty of New York is the most glamorous dead-end job in America. So -- where does it go from here? And: has a New york City Mayor ever gone on to do anything other than remenisce about having once been a New York city Mayor?

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