Last night Bill Thompson showed why he is the right choice for Mayor. Thompson laid out his vision for the future of New York City while Mike Bloomberg offered little more than negative attacks and stuttering answers. Mike was uncomfortable onstage and seemed unsure of his own policies. Once again Bloomberg would not look Thompson in the eye as he launched baseless and inaccurate attacks.
ON MIDDLE CLASS/OUT OF TOUCH Criticism
· Bill continued to stand on the side of the middle class and showed an understanding of the struggles middle class New Yorkers are facing under a Bloomberg administration. Mike stumbled and couldn’t even answer the simple question—what is middle class?
· Bill reminded New Yorkers that Bloomberg said that he did not think that pharmaceutical executives earning tens of millions of dollars made that much money.
· Bill stressed that under Bloomberg, one million middle-class New Yorkers have been squeezed out of the city and Mike couldn’t refute it. Thompson went further and said “I will tell you what middle class is—middle class is the 1 million people that were driven out of New York City by Mike Bloomberg.”
· Throughout the debate Mike Bloomberg seemed uncomfortable and offered no real plan to deal with his $5 billion dollar deficit despite being in City Hall for eight years.
· Bill gave New Yorkers real examples of how he would cut this deficit including the civilianization of desk jobs at the NYPD, revoking of MSG tax breaks, halting no-bid contracts at the Department of Education and cutting $9 billion in outsourcing of city services.
· Bloomberg wrongly suggested that Bill had proposed 5 billion in new spending. Thursday at Crain’s he said it was 7 billion and in his television commercial the number is 4 billion. In actuality Bill’s proposals cost just over 1 billion dollars which will be offset by his budget plan.
ON TAXES AND TAX BREAKS
· Mike Bloomberg said that he wouldn’t raise taxes but his record contradicts this statement. As Mayor, Mike Bloomberg instituted the City’s first permanent sales tax in 35 years, water rates have gone up 98%, property taxes have increased 87% and over 10 million parking violations were issued this year alone. Raising taxes and fees on the middle class has been Bloomberg’s solution to every fiscal problem he has created over the last 8 years.
· While Bloomberg tried to justify the millions in tax breaks that the city has provided the New York Yankees, calling it a “little bit of money for infrastructure.”Thompson attacked and characterized the millions the city has given to the Yankees under Bloomberg’s watch as one of the “Mayor’s giveaway to another one of his developer friends” Thompson noted that once again New Yorkers are “being shortchanged under Mike Bloomberg”.
Thompson successfully knocked back Mike’s ridiculous attacks on his record as President of the Board of Education, telling Bloomberg to stop lying to New Yorkers and called Bloomberg’s lies a “constant distortion of my record.” Thompson challenged Bloomberg “to stop deceiving the public.”
· While Bloomberg danced around his own education record, Thompson referred to Bloomberg’s record on education as “the Enron of education”, noting that under Bloomberg “scores are inflated” and that he is feeding New Yorkers “fiction.” Bill pointed out that while Mike had full control of the schools the scores on all national tests have either gone down or stayed flat, according to the federal data. Bill even got Mike to admit that scores were up when Bill was President of the BOE.
· Bloomberg attempted to point out that 3 or 4 public schools were on the US New and World Report’s Best Schools list. This is a very poor showing considering the city has over 1600 public schools.
PAY TO ENDORSE
· The debate moderator gave Bloomberg a chance to explain away a pay for endorsement deal reported earlier in the day by the New York Times. Bill knocked Mike for his hypocrisy while Bloomberg failed to give a credible explanation as to why his accountant made a $26,000 contribution to Newark Mayor Cory Booker just weeks after Booker crossed state lines to endorse Mike. The Mayor’s accountant , Martin J. Gellar, who according to the New York Times has a long habit of contributing money to candidates or committees that the Mayor supported had only once contributed to a candidate in New Jersey.
Thompson said that crime started falling well before Mike Bloomberg became Mayor and would continue to fall when Bill is Mayor and Mike is long gone. Bill recognized the role that all police officers have played in reducing crime in the city, noting that these gains are not a credit to any one individual. He also reminded Bloomberg that Commissioner Kelly was actually Mike’s second choice after Bernard Kerik turned him down (NEW YORK TIMES NOVEMBER 10, 2001). Kerik is currently in jail.
· On transportation the difference could not be starker. Mike refused to offer any new ideas while Bill pointed out that Bloomberg’s four appointees to the MTA have voted for fare hikes and service cuts. Thompson also pointed out that Bloomberg’s appointees are out of touch— not advocates or knowledgeable of transit issues.
Thompson said he would replace the members of the Rent Guidelines Board with “pro-tenant” members. “People continue to be pushed out across the city of New York,” he said. He committed that he would press Albany for expanding Mitchell-Lama tenant protections. And he said that more could be done with the Housing Authority to make apartments affordable.
Bloomberg stumbled and offered that “We have to have a balance between rents that people can afford,” and allowing landlords to “turn a profit” so they’ll stay invested in the city, the mayor said.
· Thompson retorted that the residents of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town managed to keep their housing development affordable — but only by going to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which this week ruled that Tishman Speyer, the landlord, had improperly removed apartments from rent regulation. Bill pointed out that Bloomberg had an opportunity to advocate for these residents but instead left it to New Yorkers to take up the fight on their own.
· Bill pointed out that 1/3 of all New Yorkers are paying 50% or more of their monthly salary on rent and asked— How can Bloomberg claim that is a successful affordable housing policy?