|The phoniest plumber since John McCain's "Joe The Plumber"is|
part of a fictional team of "victims" attacking Mayor Bill DeBlasio
In a way, I feel kind of sorry for Bill DeBlasio, the current mayor of New York.
Not that I’ve ever been a huge fan of his. He has all the personal magnetism of a third-ranked accounting professor at a second-rate cow college. I agree with a good many of his political positions, but if he offered to have a beer with me, an image of library paste would flash in my head, and I’d suddenly remember a prior engagement.
On top of the pasty je ne sais quoi of his personality, DeBlasio has made some political appointments that make you wonder what the hell the man is thinking. One such is his transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg.
Commissioner Trottenberg brings to mind, in her physical froideur and distinct lack of empathy for afflicted New Yorkers,the meanest teacher you ever had in elementary school. If you had a Roman Catholic education during certain decades of the 20th Century, I suppose that, based on what some of my Catholic friends tell me, you could make that the second-meanest nun.
Her primary interest seems to be in pleasing and absolving motorists of any chaos and tragedy they cause in New York. She also appears to be unraveling the progress New York had made in helping to make the city more habitable for pedestrians, cyclists, and even those apartment-dwellers who are subject to incessant honking during midnight traffic jams. She seems almost equally interested in punishing those who complain.
Last November, for example, after eight people were hit, broken, crushed, and killed in a single week by various motor vehicles, (two city busses were among those vehicles), Trottenberg announced that pedestrians ought to watch where they’re going.
What next? A statement complaining it’s a shame the busses got dented?
All this while bike routes deteriorate, some bike paths become rutted, pitted, potholed, tire-trapping death traps, and the traffic Trottenberg works so hard to encourage grows more constipated than ever.
For example, there’s another currently-brewing controversy involving Trottenberg. Residents of a beleagured building in Midtown have been tortured for months by a loud cacaphony of blaring automobile horns, sounded by frustrated motorists in the middle of the night on Trottenberg’s jammed streets. The residents have pleaded that Trottenberg’s department place signs on their block asking the gridlocked and furious drivers not to honk.
Trottenberg’s kiss-off reply, completely ignoring the specific requests, was in a letter to a City Council member. She said that somebody else’s agency had put up some signs somewhere else, and besides, there were cops directing traffic. In other words, she didn’t give a flying flamingo. Or perhaps she was flipping the residents some other kind of bird. I suppose she thinks that if residents don’t like it, they can just go move to the suburbs.
However, I give less than full enthusaism to the current investigation into possibly shady dealings (or possibly not) involving Mayor DeBlasio’s fund raising efforts.
Seems to me that at best, DeBlasio is small potatoes. The bigger and likelier rotten spud is New York State’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, who literally shut down a statewide corruption investigation when it got a little too close to home.
And yet I still feel badly for DeBlasio, whose numbers lately have been sinking like the Titanic. At least part of his loss of popularity is due not to his charmless personality, or to the corruption investigation centered around his campaign, or even to Commissioner Trottenberg’s“Screw You” style of administration.
The cause is more insidious than that. You see, one of the good things DeBlasio has done has been to try keeping rents affordable for New York’s middle class and working poor. The alternative would be even more of the homelessness that is now evident in many parts of the city.
Of course, the landlord hate this. It means they can’t gouge their tenants. This has left them feeling terribly sorry for themselves. But advertising, “Boo hoo, we can’t get filthy rich by raising your rent” is such a self-evidently losing proposition that they’ve come up with something far more insidious.
They’re running, at considerable media weight, a television campaign in New York in which various actors posing as Hispanic small businessmen — a guy who seems to own a plumbing store and a guy who seems to be a painter, for example — complain that deBlasio is starving them out of their jobs.
How? By viciously strangling greedy landlords’ excess profits, thereby making it "impossible" for the landlords to keep up their buildings, thereby killing the incomes of small tradesmen who service the buildings, thereby hurting "everyone." The ads are paid for by something called the "Rent Stabilization Association," which is actually a bunch of landlords who want to de-stabilize rents.
The implications of the ads: If you favor rent control, you favor throwing Hispanic small business owners out of work, loading up the unemployment roles with ruined plumbers and painters, and wrecking the city’s economy.
The logic of this argument, if you can follow it, leads straight to the garbage pit. Moreover, casting Hispanic types as the victims, when in fact a significant number of the city’s newly arrived Hispanics are really landlords’ victims, is the height of hypocrisy. And nowhere do the commercials say that what the "rent stabilizers" really want is for the rent to be raised. That's for DeBlasio himself to read between the lines, while it passes right through the uncomprehending heads of dullards like ourselves. What we're expected to remember is, DeBlasio is a no good bum who's killing poor Hispanics plumbers.
So the landlords are spreading their venom. The corruption investigators are sniffing around in all the wrong places, perhaps to avoid Governor Cuomo’s displeasure. (DeBlasio and Cuomo are anything but close buddies.)
Meanwhile, well-intentioned poor schnook DeBlasio keeps taking it on the chin, while his traffic commissioner must fall asleep every night cheerfully dreaming of occupied baby carriages getting squashed by eighteen-wheelers.
Hey, fella, welcome to Noo Yawk. We got the best of everything heah, including a multiplicity of political operatives with shivs up their sleeves.
Cross-posted at The New York Crank
Cross-posted at The New York Crank