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Monday, April 8, 2013

Growing Anxiety Of Post-Bloomberg Mayor Immune To Powerful Interests

The latest corruption scandals, has exacerbated those fears of many from a post-Bloomberg mayor immune to bribery or intimidation by powerful special interests. After 12 years of  a billionaire mayor, who had no outside interests to abide with, a less assertive manager would bring down New York to the level of a messy backroom deal-making government, Chris Bragg and Andrew Hawkins write in The Insider Blog.

"You're seeing this kind of brazenness almost in anticipation of a new day coming," Bill Cunningham, a former Bloomberg administration official and the managing director of Dan Klores Communications, told The Insider. "It's almost like these guys are warming up, getting ready for it. This is like spring training for the end of the Bloomberg era." His reference was to a slate of charges against local officials, one of whom allegedly bribed Republican leaders to run in their party's mayoral primary.

The mentality, he said in the wake of last week's scandals, is "Bloomberg's leaving. Now they're trying to buy City Hall."

As an example to the growing anxiety, Bragg and Hawkins point to a recent forum in Brooklyn Heights, where the five Democrats running to replace Mr. Bloomberg were asked first about corruption. "The candidates haven't exactly calmed those fears: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sought to connect the scandal to Council Speaker Christine Quinn's management of council members' discretionary funds. Comptroller John Liu, however, pointed out that such funds make up a tiny fraction of the city budget and directed his criticism to the billions in "no-bid contracts" issued by the Department of Education and Economic Development Corp. The candidates, though, did not address what they would do as mayor to stem corruption, perhaps knowing that any promises of independence would ring hollow in a race already dominated by a mad dash for partisan endorsements and union support."

"We've been enjoying a period where political clubs haven't had much sway at the mayor's office like they have in past years," said Mr. Dadey. "We're at risk of a renewal of clubhouse politics."

The only mayoral contender, that is not struggling to generate money and is independently wealthy to a degree that would match him with Bloomberg's style of governance is:  Republican grocery magnate John Catsimatidis.

Mr. Catsimatidis says his $3 billion fortune and self-funded campaign will allow him to run City Hall as Mr. Bloomberg does, without being beholden to special interests. “I can’t be bought — just like Mike Bloomberg,” he told the NY Times.

 "The fact that I'm wealthy gives me some independence," Mr. Catsimatidis told The Insider. "If a big developer throws a fundraiser for you and raises $150,000, you're going to do what he says."

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