Bill de Blasio, who ran a successful campaign for New York mayor on a pretty strong anti-Bloomberg platform, wasn't really elected mayor because the city agreed with him, according to current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Instead, Bloomberg said on his weekly radio appearance with WOR’s John Gambling, the city's residents just wanted to change something. "I liken it to hemlines — you know, hemlines are fine, but next year they move ‘em up or down, because people want a change," he said.
Here was Bloomberg's assessment of the motivation of the voters who handed de Blasio a huge margin of victory earlier this month:
"This campaign was an anti–not so much anti-Bloomberg or anti-establishment — it was a change. Just want a change... And you say, ‘Well change what?’ ‘I don’t know. I want a change.’ ‘Why? ‘Just time for a change.’”
Of course, de Blasio's central campaign theme was not simply "change." It was a direct rebuke to the 12 years of Bloomberg. He campaigned around the idea of New York as "two cities" — one wealthy and thriving under Bloomberg, with everyone else languishing. His big campaign idea, to increase taxes on the city's wealthiest residents in order to fund an expansion of pre-kindergarten education across the city, reflects that.
Bloomberg has previously denied that de Blasio (or pretty much anyone else) would benefit from an anti-Bloomberg platform. To Bloomberg, there must always be something else in play. In a New York magazine interview this September, Bloomberg said that if both de Blasio and Eliot Spitzer won their respective city races, the wins would be "zero" percent about repudiating his time in office:
What’s one thing got to do with another? Spitzer’s case—it’s probably more name recognition and Stringer’s lack of it. With De Blasio, the percentage of the public that’s going to elect him is pretty small.
And he doesn’t have any ideas. “I’m gonna raise the taxes.” You know that Albany, under no circumstances, nor the governor, under any circumstances, is going to allow that! So come up with some real ideas, Bill!
On Friday, Bloomberg also praised the legacy he'll leave for de Blasio when he takes office in January. "We’re going to turn the city over to the de Blasio Administration in as good shape as we possibly can," he said, citing "record low" crime, "record highs" in school test scores, a "balanced budget," strong "culturals," and a great park system. He added, "If I were that administration, I’d have a smile on my face and say, 'You know, we’ve got a great hand to play and we can take it and go further.'"
But The New York Times reported this week on another legacy the new mayor will inherit: despite a national trend of decreasing homelessness, the homeless rate in New York City increased by 13 percent as of January. The data, released on Thursday by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, shows a 4 percent drop in homelessness nationwide. The New York shelter system, the Times notes, "has reached levels not seen since the Depression era."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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