Callous Mike

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Among the many kinds of emails I receive from readers is the assumption that I live in a blue liberal paradise in New York City. Typically, these emails will come from readers living in states like Texas or Alabama who feel alienated from neighbors who talk unabashedly about seceding or openly refer to Obama as “that nigger president.” Thankfully, I’m not exposed to that nonsense living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan.

Nonetheless, New York City is not a liberal panacea and Mayor Mike Bloomberg's administration is no champion of the poor. On May 9th, the Associated Press reported that city officials are charging homeless families for living in shelters. Hat tip to my Facebook buddy Terri DiMatteo for posting about this. According to the AP:
“The policy applies only to shelter residents who have income from jobs.

They could be expected to pay up to half their earnings.

Some shelter residents say the new rule will ruin their chances of saving enough money to get an apartment.

One single mother living in a Manhattan shelter tells The New York Times [NYT] she got a letter saying she had to give up $336 of the $800 she makes each month as a cashier.

The city says it is only charging people who can afford to pay.

About 2,000 families are expected to be covered by the new rule.”
One obvious flaw with this punitive measure is that it’s a disincentive to remain employed. As it is a working mother may be reluctant to leave her kids alone in a shelter to earn a pay-check. Now the Bloomberg administration is penalizing her for it!

I know many liberals in New York City who support Bloomberg. Whenever I talk to them I’m struck by how clueless they are. Bloomberg’s urbane and he’s been a pioneer in the information economy professionals like them have thrived in and still do even after Wall Street’s meltdown last fall. Also, Bloomberg supports the liberal position with respect to guns, abortion and the environment and the concerns of people living in shelters is not on their radar screen.

Bloomberg is certainly an improvement over his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. He’s been forward thinking with respect to the environment and transforming New York City to combat global warming. In many ways Bloomberg is an effective technocrat. But this isn’t the first time his administration has been callous towards the most vulnerable in our society. Sadly, he appears poised for a third term coronation this November without a vigorous challenge or critique of his record.

Bloomberg is already spending millions on advertising while candidates such as Comptroller William Thompson are restricted in order to remain compliant with the Campaign Finance Board and receive matching funds. And Bloomberg continues to coast without worrying about serving the needs of wage earners and tenants who can’t afford to live here.

Does anyone care that New York City’s mayor is allowed to be a commissar for plutocrats in a gilded age? Is there anyone who can mount an effective challenge and at least compel Bloomberg to be cognizant of city residents who don't thrive in his world? Will the fact that the working poor living in shelters are being penalized while Bloomberg caters to the rich during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression even be an issue this campaign?


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