Monday, April 13, 2009

Working Man's Blues

The NY Daily News reports that Mike Bloomberg, who has already started push-polling negative information about his potential mayoral rivals and dropped $3 million advertising dollars in his "shock and awe" re-election campaign to become New York City Mayor for Life, is seeking the Working Families Party ballot line this fall.

Bloomberg has already won the Independence Party and Republican Party ballot lines, so if he wins the WFP endorsement, only the Democratic Party ballot line would be sans Bloomberg.

That's assuming he also doesn't buy the Dems off before Election Day ballots get printed.

Ironically, as Mayor Moneybags has his people handing out cash incentives to the WFP heads for their endorsement, he is actively orchestrating an anti-working class campaign against municipal workers. Last week he called for municipal labor unions to give health care and pension concessions to him immediately or he would lay off at least 7,000 city workers. Moneybags claims health care and pension benefits will "bankrupt" the city unless these concessions are made.

But as Errol Louis noted Sunday
, Bloomberg is trying to get city workers to make health care and pension concessions at the same time he refuses to stop hiring outside contractors to do jobs city workers could do:

In city parks, for instance, Roberts claims the Department of Parks and Recreation is paying $12.6 million too much for landscape architects and engineers to plan the reconstruction of eight parks - work, she says, that could be done by workers already on the city payroll.

In the Department of Transportation, the study says, outside contractors are being hired to install those signs indicating parking hours and other traffic regulations, at triple the rate it would cost to use city workers.

The Fire Department contracts out audit and accounting services. The Department of Education uses outside companies to deliver school lunches and other food when city workers could handle the load.

"It's wasting the citizens' money and it's denying employment to people who could do a job," she says. "There's $9 billion worth of this nonsense going on."

And that's assuming that this "work" the city is contracting out isn't wasteful in the first place. More often than not, it is. Take some of the no-bid contracts Bloomberg's Department of Education hands out. As the NY Post reported on August 10, 2008:

According to city-comptroller statistics, in fiscal year 2000 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the DOE signed seven no-bid contracts worth a total of $693,000. In fiscal year 2007, under Mayor Bloomberg, 76 no-bid contracts were signed for a total of $72 million.

The most egregious of those contracts was one that paid $10 million to a company run by an alleged pedophile to help teachers "demystify" their students. The company - All Kinds of Minds - received the no-bid contract money to train 20,000 teachers, but wound up only training 3,000. In addition, the head of the company, Dr. Melvin Levine, has had sexual abuse allegations leveled against him by 55 former male patients. The NYCDOE defended itself by saying they had hired Levine's company, not Levine, for professional development services.

Is this the kind of money the city needs to spend in lieu of money on health care and pension benefits for city workers?

Apparently so. If you want to see what other contracts the NYCDOE has handed out, you can look here. Want to bet the mayor isn't looking at this list for any savings as he threatens city workers with layoffs? Or at any other department where contracts are being handed out to cronies.

But he is looking to the Working Families Party heads for another ballot line in his campaign to turn New York City into Stalinist Russia.

What a city - you can vote for Mike Bloomberg on the GOP line, the WFP line, or the Independence line next November.

But you can't get a viable alternative to him if you're a working person who wants to ensure the city doesn't balance its budget on your back while still handing out hundreds of millions of city dollars to Bloomberg cronies and connections.
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