An Open Letter to Michael Bloomberg

Brought on by this gem.

Dear Mr. Bloomberg,

You just insist on pissing people off lately, don’t you. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if you get off on the fallout, especially when you come out with zingers like this one.

“You’ll get used to it”? Seriously?!

Mr. Bloomberg, who do you think you are? Truly. Who do you think you are? Because last time I checked, the Middle Ages have expired and you aren’t the king, New York City in 2013 is not Soviet Russia of the 1960s, and this being the United States with a penumbral right to privacy supported by both the US Constitution and courtroom precedent in the United States Supreme Court – look up the definition of penumbral if you aren’t comfortable with big words – I want to know what, exactly, you think you are doing and who, exactly, you think you are by condoning drone espionage on New Yorkers. Probable cause hasn’t even entered your thinking process, has it?

First of all, don’t even think about giving the bullshit line of, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about”. That is not the damned point. The NYPD is just as notorious as the LAPD in terms of abuse of power, if not more so, and you granting the NYPD the sort of technology that provides an excellent opportunity to invade anyone’s privacy without them knowing it really, really does not sit well with me. Considering that the NYPD protects abusers and rapists within their own ranks with the infamous blue wall of silence, the absolute last thing they ought to have is more access to potential victims.

Don’t pooh-pooh the NYPD’s ongoing history of abuse of power, Bloomberg. The stop-and-frisk approach has been racially slanted from the get-go, and there are too many complaints of police brutality to just disregard as overzealous rookies drunk on the power of having a badge and a gun. And didn’t we just convict a cop who’s a wannabe cannibal? Yeah. We have a police force of thugs, closet racists, abusers, and wannabe serial killers looking for a chance to get it right. What’s the best thing to do? Why, give them espionage gear!

And you wonder why people don’t take you seriously.

I would also like to know exactly why this is a priority as opposed to the very real and very growing housing crisis in New York. No, I’m not talking about the less-than-1% vacancy. I’m talking about the price. I understand that you don’t really think about anyone who doesn’t make below $70K per year as someone who actually exists, but you tell me this, Mr. B: what exactly justifies renting out a 250sqft closet – I won’t call it a studio – on the Upper West Side for $1,600? What justifies a two-bedroom in Inwood being upwards of $1,400? I really want to know. Because the majority of the city’s population cannot afford those rents, hadn’t been able to afford those rents for some years now, and are slowly getting priced out of the city.

Mr. Bloomberg, contrary to your belief, this city doesn’t consist of young wealthy future tycoons who are making bank in $70K and up, have no other obligations, and can afford to pay these inflated rents and go out to Broadway shows, etc. This city consists of a lot of people who are making $40K a year and under, whose single paycheck goes to rent alone, who do not work at a desk job in a cubicle farm. They’re usually the ones who are delivering your catered lunches. They’re the ones pouring the morning coffee for all the nine-to-fivers. They’re the ones who are doing the data entry and bookkeeping without health insurance at a starter salary just because they need the income, regardless of how much experience they have. They’re older people who aren’t able to retire because the recession sucked up their 401Ks. They’re people who weren’t born here, who are trying to make it here, who are not familiar with employment laws, and who take a below-minimum-wage job because it pays bills. They’re the ones whom you and Wall Street and too many other people sneeringly tell to just “take some responsibility for yourself and do better”. They don’t have a lack of responsibility, Mr. Bloomberg, of that rest assured, but they do have a very real challenge trying to pay an inflated rent rate when their paycheck stretches only so far to cover rent and bills aren’t willing to wait on payment. That’s not a lack of responsibility. That’s a juggling act worthy of Cirque du Soleil to manage all the responsibilities that they have.

Instead of addressing the issue of NY’s housing, you instead decide to attempt banning soda because – according to your reasoning – New Yorkers aren’t “being responsible” with their health.

Very nice, Mr. Bloomberg. I salute your absolute lack of priorities. I also salute you, in your quest for public health, requiring GMO foods to be labeled– oh, wait, you’ve not done that. Oh, wait, you’ve also done absolutely nothing about corn subsidies or HFCS subsidies. Yeah, so what was this about the soda ban being for purposes of public health?

You’re also not addressing the very real homelessness problem in New York. My guess is that the sequester has also impacted funding on the homeless programs, which you have more than the means to contribute to out of your own pocket, being the scion of the Bloomberg brand. But silly me, how can I possibly think that you would want to invest in the infrastructure of your project? After all, you’re treating the city, which needs to be run as an administration, as a business project, and you completely disregard, like so many businessmen who get comfortable in their money often do, the crucial infrastructure of your project. The project is only as viable as the employees, and even if the cheapest, rustiest screw gives way and pops out of the joist, the entire building collapses. You disregard that little fact. The money you’re pouring into the useless battle against soda of all things could be used to alleviate the homelessness problem, because guess what: those same homeless people, once cleaned up, housed, and medicated, can then go to work. There’s little shortage of employment in the city, if you actually consider that employment does not equal a nine-to-five at a desk.

But you don’t consider that. Instead, you think that it’s fine to authorize a gross invasion of privacy and think that we can “get used to it”.

Mr. Bloomberg, it took you the Dec. 2010 blizzard to actually realize that it’s important to prep the city for inclement weather, and in learning that lesson, you had the balls to tell people who were snowed in and could not leave their houses to “go see a Broadway show and stop complaining”. That was so very easy for you to say, Mr. Bloomberg. Your building’s street was plowed immediately after the last snowflake settled. Your sidewalk was salted. Those of us who live in South Brooklyn couldn’t walk outside for days. Now why, exactly, was South Brooklyn buried while Park Slope was dug out right away? Is it because SoBro residents are not rich? Or because they are, largely, not WASPs? Let’s fess up here. What’s so repellent about us in the outer boroughs that you couldn’t even bother to clean our streets in a timely fashion, and yet at the same time, you’d happily authorize drone espionage?

Don’t tell me to “go see a Broadway show”, because for one, I am no fan of Broadway, and two, I see more than enough shows in a year, Mr. Bloomberg. I am a concert photographer. I see shows aplenty. I also see when there is a real problem in my city, and that problem is a mayor who thinks that he can be a CEO running a project in an admin environment. I grew up in New York. I lived here for twenty years. I’ll likely die in this city, even though everything practical in me is screaming to get out and hightail it to Phoenix. But while I’m a New Yorker, the one thing I will not tolerate is some smarmy suit telling me that I’ll “get used to” a blatant violation of my privacy because a police force that is long overdue for a psychological reassessment and a recurrence of the Wickersham Commission happens to have drone tech. I will not tolerate the same smarmy suit slicing up the education budget and instead pouring money into a Sisyphean battle to ban sodas above a certain size. Do not patronize me and my ilk, Mr. Bloomberg. We may not be rich, but there are far more of us than there are of you and yours. Just because you don’t see New York as worthwhile if it’s further up than 92nd Street in Manhattan and below Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It exists, and its population greatly outnumbers the New York in your scope.

Mr. Bloomberg, we are not your employees, and this city is not a business. Contrary to your attitude, you do not have full and complete control of the population of this city, and we will not stand for, nor will we “get used to”, a damned thing we don’t want to see, and you will do very well to remember it.

Your illegal third term did not go unnoticed. Nor did your continued mismanagement of the MTA. I, for one, would like to know what percentage of the MTA’s profit goes into your pockets, because so far, the fares are increasing, the service is steadily declining, and projects that have been started years ago are no closer to being completed. There has already been one transit strike, and if you hadn’t noticed, this city is as reliant on its public transit as a person relies on air to breathe. This is the one system that you cannot afford to run into the ground – no pun intended – and yet you’re doing so anyway.

Mr. Bloomberg, your administrative skills are deplorable. Point blank, you don’t have a damned clue what you’re doing with this city. There will always be a class stratification in every big city, there will always be the haves and the have-nots, but in a city where the have-nots greatly outnumber the haves, and have some of the widest income gaps, I would imagine that you’d want to avoid making them angry. Like as not, they can vote, and no one on either side of the income gap is okay with their privacy being invaded without due cause.

If you knew what you were doing, then a 1BR in South Brooklyn would never have been allowed to reach over $900 in price per month.

You’re no mayor of mine, Mr. Bloomberg. I did not vote for you. I definitely did not agree with your third term. And no Broadway show that you can suggest erases the fact that right now, teachers and social workers burn out and have PTSD by route of their jobs, the subway service has been steadily declining, and people are being priced out of even the boonies – and that it’s all happening on your watch. Your tacit tolerance tells me that you’re A-OK with it.

Unless you want a return of the 1890s Gilded Age-era tenements – which, come to think of it, might be your end goal after all – buck up, put on your big-boy pants, and do your damned job. If you’re not okay with the way things are for the lower denominator of your constituents, start actually doing something about it.

Otherwise, get the hell out and give the job to someone who will.

No love whatsoever,

K.G.

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