The snow is finally disappearing from our streets, but, just as we still talk about the storm from the Lindsay days, the memory of this snowstorm debacle will live on for a long time to come. There are many reasons for failure of the city to effectively clear the streets. Much of the blame will be heaped on the mayor, and the sanitation union will get its fair share as well.
Ultimately, what this event seems to signal is a major turning point in the Bloomberg administration. The era of Michael Bloomberg as effective administrator and fiscal manager is over. The signs were there for years, if anyone cared to look. The first sign was the mayor’s massive increase in high-paid management, both mid and upper level. He seemed unable to effectively do what the Giuliani administration did with far fewer people.
The second sign was a huge chink in the mayor’s fiscal armor. Every year the mayor would issue a budget report that would include budget estimates for the following year and the years to come. Not only were his estimates for the years to come way off, but he was consistently off by $1 billion for the year to follow. An annual $1 billion error is huge, and signals either massive incompetence or intentional deception.
That leads into the third sign, the mayor losing his appearance as the independent non-political problem solver, and his evolution into a highly political and ego-driven consummate politician. Nothing exemplified that more than his machinations in securing a third term in spite of his previous commitment to the two-term limit set by public referendum.
The last sign was his obviously self-serving attempts to constantly have his name floated as a candidate for president or as a potential presidential appointee for some high level Washington job like Treasury Secretary. This even as he was looking to extend his time as mayor for at least another four years.
Bloomberg has stepped into the typical trap that most politicians and sports stars fall into – staying in the game too long. Had Bloomberg left gracefully after eight years, his faults most likely would not have been exposed, and a strongly positive legacy would have been assured. Now, a decade of hard work crafting his reputation has been buried by the snow.
Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.