Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s current citywide visit is ostensibly to emphasize leaving office with a favorable legacy. While there may be some aspects of Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor that may warrant a laudable legacy, including his private philanthropic activities, his cabal with 21 term-limited City Council members to overturn twice public-supported term limits, will not be among them.
Nor will his abysmal record concerning small businesses and his contempt for local community boards. Not only did Bloomberg ignore the overwhelming majority of Community Boards 3 and 7 — 48 votes against and 24 in favor — that did not approve the New York Mets and Related Cos.’s manipulation of the Willets Point project approved in 2008, so as to allow a 1.4-million-square-foot shopping mall at Citi Field, but he also ignored the fact such a mall will wreak havoc on all the small businesses on Northern Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, 108th Street and other shopping areas and create enormous traffic problems.
He engineered an enormous taxpayer giveaway to multibillionaires with regard to Willets Point. He closed his eyes to the fact that the Citi Field parking lot is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and refused to compel the shopping mall developers to replace parkland. He refused to accept the fact that a huge shopping mall is a radical change of land use from that of a parking lot and required a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure — all for the benefit of big business, which he consistently considered his true constituents.
He is forcing the eviction of many small businesses at Willets Point without their having other places to relocate. He justified the Willets Point project on the basis that the area was a blight, ignoring the fact that it was the city that caused the blight by collecting sewer taxes, even though there were no sewers and other taxes without dealing with the area’s infrastructure.
Perhaps the most egregious of all is his romance with real estate moguls and his failure to understand small businesses are not only the backbone of our local economy but, unlike big-box mall stores whose profits are often posted to head offices far from New York City, their money stays and is spent in our communities.
Bloomberg’s legacy as mayor will surely include a lack of care or interest in the poor, the middle class and small businesses and may exceed those things that could be considered laudable.
Benjamin M. Haber