It's kind of incredible when we read of legislators voting on bills like the Patriot Act, which it's pretty much inconceivable they've read. You'd hope they'd vote no on the basis of not knowing what the hell the bills contain, but no one wants to be unpatriotic.
Closer to home, our Panel for Educational Policy often votes on contracts they haven't seen. There is a distinction here, though. It doesn't much matter whether or not PEP members see contracts, read them, understand them, or agree with them. We've known for years that when 8 of 13 members are chosen by the mayor, they vote the way they're instructed. In fact, early in Bloomberg's term, he simply fired a couple of members who were planning to vote against him.
So the primary difference between the federal and city legislators is that members of Congress, while beholden to whomever, need not necessarily vote a certain way 100% of the time. Bloomberg's appointees, however, have no choice whatsoever, and will lose their jobs if they exercise their consciences. Bloomberg is fine with that--he said something like mayoral control is just that. It's a little more than that, though. What it is, actually, is an end run against democracy. None of that stuff here in Fun City.
What we have is a billionaire mayor doing pretty much whatever the hell he sees fit. Sure, you can get up and talk for two minutes. You can express whatever POV you see fit. After you do that, the majority on the PEP will do whatever Bloomberg tells them to do. You see, democracy is messy. There are all these gray areas. Who knows what's really right or wrong?
But in Mayor Bloomberg's New York, there's none of that. He does what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants to do it. And if there are inconvenient laws saying he can't, say, run for a third term, directly affirmed by voters, he simply writes a few checks, twists a few arms, and gets what he wants anyway. No muss, no fuss.
And all the no-bid contracts a billionaire could salivate over.
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