Bloomberg for NY Gov?
Last week’s NY Post splashed a story across page one, GOV. MIKE! Eyeing run vs. ‘spoiled’ Spitz in ’10. The article is by Fredric U. Dicker, the Post’s state editor. The quotes come from a single anonymous source, who says he spoke to Mayor Bloomberg. That makes the story triple hearsay; Dicker says the anonymous source told him that the mayor has low regard for the governor and would like to take him on in 2010. The story was denied by the mayor. Even if the story were true, or a plausible speculation, the mayor would have to deny is strongly because a) it detracts from his non-campaign for the presidency, b) it would impair his relationships with the governor, and c) it would make him appear, prematurely, to be seeking another office.
Nonetheless, the tale has certain plausibility. It is what is called a trial balloon. The idea makes enough sense to resonate in some people’s minds. Look for other leaks from time to time to follow up on this one. Here’s a hint: the more stridently the story is denied, the more likely it is to be a credible possibility.
In a refreshingly candid statement, Bloomberg himself recently observed that it is highly unlikely that a 5’7" divorced Jewish billionaire from Manhattan will be elected President of the United States. He is also aware that a quixotic Presidential campaign would injure his reputation. He is neither a Ross Perot or a Ralph Nader. In addition, the outcome of his candidacy could be the election of a conservative or radical of whom he would disapprove. And he does not like to lose.
When Mike Bloomberg began his race for mayor nine years ago, he was generously considered a 100-1 shot. But since he was new to politics, although a major figure in business, he was relatively unknown to the general public. Therefore, he had no reputation to jeopardize, at worst he would have been considered a decent citizen who tried to clean up the city and lost. Republicans, even nominal ones, are not expected to carry New York City. Who would imagine that they could have won the last four mayoral elections.
But Bloomberg did win in 2001, by 35,489 votes over Mark Green (Democrat-Working Families). In 2005, he was re-elected with more than seven times that margin, 249,870 votes. If he could run in 2009, he would probably defeat the bloodied winner of the Democratic primary. The mayor’s increasingly frequent trips out of state and to Washington, DC emphasize his status as a national figure. He can create organizations as quickly as David Rockefeller used to, and he does.
To his credit, his scandal-free administration of New York City contrasts sharply with Pataki and the legislators in Albany, and Bush and company in Washington. There are always crooks in city government; when they find them, they throw them out, relatively quietly.
What will Bloomberg do in 2010 at the age of 68? He will be out of office, having completed his mayoral terms. He has an enormous foundation to run, and he can become the nation’s leading philanthropist once Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have spent down. But elective public office has aphrodisiac qualities, and as the years pass, it becomes are more attractive prospect.
Regardless of how he feels in May 2007, there is a force that may propel the mayor into gubernatorial politics in 2010. First, the seat is winnable. Governor Spitzer, excellent on most issues, diligent, productive and highly intelligent, has not yet emerged as a warm and attractive personality. He has years to establish a more agreeable public persona, and the chances are that he will, more or less, get better at it. Even mock humility would be helpful.
Yet we must remember Bloomberg’s early years, where a majority of voters polled, even while thinking he did a reasonably good job as mayor, said that they would not like to invite him to dinner. Public perceptions change with the years, and one should never write off an incumbent.
The Dicker story may or may not have been privately authorized by its subject, the mayor. But whether or not it is true, it makes enormous sense for the mayor, not necessarily to run for governor, but to keep the possibility in his playbook. It could be very helpful to the City of New York if the governor wanted to retain the good will of the mayor.
The fact that the mayor may have privately derogated the governor means nothing. Most major politicians have contempt for each other, the only difference between them is the degree of discretion they exercise. No man is hero to his valet, and very few are heroes to their predecessors or successors.
Last week you heard the first of Bloomberg in 2010. It may or may not happen, and no one knows whether it will. We predict, however, that you have not heard the last of the story.
Henry Stern can be reached at:
Subprime Mortgage Problem?
By WILLIAM THOMPSON, Jr.
Comptroller, New York City
My office recently announced the creation of a helpline to assist New York City homeowners who may be facing foreclosure as a result of the recent growth in sub-prime mortgages. While these mortgages have made the possibility of home ownership available to a wider range of New Yorkers, they may carry with them a greater risk of later default.
This is a matter of serious consequence in New York City. In some cases, economic circumstances have led less affluent New Yorkers to pursue alternative lending products. In other cases they have been persuaded by unscrupulous brokers and lenders.
Many people, first-time homebuyers and homeowners who refinance alike, are being taken advantage of and are mortgaging not only their homes, but their very futures as well.
Taking advantage of interest-only and adjustable rate loans that require little or no cash up front, these New Yorkers have entered into sub-prime mortgages that may have been underwritten without regard to the borrowers’ ability to repay the loan. Many of these men and women later find themselves unable to meet the terms of their loans as interest payments rise.
Recent data from the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project suggests that New York City will experience roughly 15,000 foreclosure filings this year – more than double the amount from two years ago. Not surprisingly the rate of foreclosures has hit poor and minority neighborhoods the hardest – from South Jamaica and Cambria Heights in Queens, to Bed-Stuyvesant and East New York in Brooklyn, to Williamsbridge in the Bronx.
Defaults and foreclosures are of particular concern in the spring and summer months as adjustable rate mortgages jump to higher levels, and homeowners refinance to cash out equity in their properties for repairs and other uses.
In response to this growing crisis, my office has created the Foreclosure Prevention Helpline. The helpline will give families struggling with their mortgages someone to assist them in managing their debt obligations and trying to prevent the loss of their homes. My staff will research individuals’ cases and make appropriate referrals to non-profit organizations certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And we will continue to track cases to make sure people are getting all the help they need.
Only by protecting the hardworking men and women of New York City can we ensure that the American dream of home ownership does not turn into the nightmare of foreclosure.
If you need help, call my Foreclosure Prevention Helpline at (212) 669-4600.