Bloomberg: Bad on LGBT and Aids Issues, Bad on Civil Liberties, and Bad for Average New Yorkers
By Allen Roskoff
The December blizzard that hit New York and his appointment of the spectacularly unqualified Cathie Black as schools chancellor seemed to wake people up to how disengaged and incompetent Mayor Mike Bloomberg could be. It punctured the myth that he was an effective mayor, something that he and his wealthy friends had to promote with paid advertizing since it was never true. We’ve always been aware that Bloomberg was a regressive leader who has hurt the City we love.
Bloomberg is anti-union, demanding that experienced teachers be fired in favor of lower-paid new recruits to the system, most of whom leave teaching within five years anyway. He wants to bring union-busting Walmart into the city and blames city workers for the budget crisis. Bloomberg is demanding cuts in senior and day care centers and firing of teachers while having the audacity to lobby against extending the state's millionaires tax.
This June 15, rent protections expire for two million tenants in New York and Bloomberg has remained on the sidelines during this critical battle. His own Rent Guidelines Board has dished out rent increases of up to 8.5% annually on middle class New Yorkers as part of his strategy of making this a city just for the wealthy.
The Bloomberg Era in New York has been a tremendous setback for LGBT rights, civil liberties overall, and the City of New York in general. The Bloomberg enablers and allies, particularly Speaker Christine Quinn, have a lot to answer for.
The popular view of Mayor Bloomberg is that he is a former Democrat who is socially liberal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s look at the record:
LGBT and AIDS ISSUES
- Bloomberg VETOED City Council legislation that mandated a comprehensive anti-bullying program in our public schools. When the Council overrode his veto, he called the law “silly” and refused to implement it. Under pressure from Sikhs and other groups, he finally instituted an anti-bullying policy that remains far short of what is required under the law.
- Bloomberg VETOED the City Council bill requiring contractors with the City to provide domestic partner benefits because Bloomberg abhors regulations on business, even if they make the businesses treat their employees equitably. The Council overrode the veto, but the mayor went to court to block implementation of the law and was successful. An opportunity was lost to make thousands of contractors around the country treat their gay employees with respect.
- Bloomberg is the largest donor to the Republican Party in history, despite the party’s longstanding opposition to LGBT rights in any form. His support for New York State Senate Republicans kept them in power for years and returned them to power in the 2010 elections. EVERY REPUBLICAN SENATOR VOTED AGAINST MARRIAGE EQUALITY and we have Mike Bloomberg to thank for growing their numbers in the Senate.
- Bloomberg claims to support marriage equality now, but he did take that position until 2005 on the very day that he appealed Justice Doris Ling Cohan’s order to the City to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Had he not appealed, citing Leviticus in his briefs, gay and lesbian couples would still be allowed to marry here. Bloomberg lies when he says that he HAD to appeal the decision. In California, the governor and attorney general have refused to appeal a federal court order to overturn Prop 8.
- Under Bloomberg’s NYPD, scores of middle-aged gay men have been falsely arrested for prostitution in an overzealous and illegal effort to close porn stores in New York. The one brave victim of this outrage to come forward, Robert Pinter, is suing the City in court and the mayor is vigorously contesting the case.
- In the 2004 election, Bloomberg disgracefully supported George Bush for president despite his support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
- In the 2008 election, Bloomberg could not bring himself to support Barack Obama’s historic bid for president and sided with the anti-gay McCain-Palin ticket.
- Under Bloomberg, HIV INFECTION RATES HAVE RISEN especially among youth of color, but he steadfastly refuses to restore condom lessons in classrooms that would help our young people protect themselves and to negotiate for safer sex.
- Bloomberg refuses to honor the boycott of the anti-gay St. Patrick’s Day Parade which has excluded Irish LGBT groups from participating for more than two decades.
- Bloomberg continues to support the Boy Scouts of America despite their policy excluding gay and atheist Scouts and Scoutmasters. While other cities have ended sweetheart deals with the Scouts for space, Bloomberg continues to accord this anti-gay organization privileged status.
- Bloomberg actively opposed state legislation that would cap rent payments for poor people with HIV at 30% of their income.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
- During the 2004 Republican Convention in New York, which Bloomberg personally donated $7 MILLION DOLLARS TO, he allowed the police to run roughshod over the rights of peaceful dissenters. Thousands were rounded up and arrested exercising their First Amendment rights and the City has had to dole out millions of dollars to the falsely arrested.
- The police presence in the schools has been beefed up massively under Bloomberg and children are criminalized daily.
- Under Bloomberg, hundreds of thousands of people—mostly African American and Latino young males—have been stopped and frisked with no probable cause.
- Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been cited for marijuana possession under Bloomberg, almost all of them African American and Latino despite more heavy marijuana use among whites. These are young people who are given criminal records for a victimless “crime” that hurts their chances for a fair shake in life.
- Bloomberg and his poodle, Chris Quinn, overthrew two referenda by the people of the City and repealed term limits for themselves in the most naked power grab in City history—and that’s saying a lot.
BLOOMBERG IS TURNING NEW YORK INTO A WHITE, RICH ENCLAVE
- Mayor Bloomberg has continued the Giuliani Era policies of driving the poor and middle class out of New York. Bloomberg has described New York City as “a luxury product” for which people should pay a premium.
- Bloomberg has stacked his Rent Guidelines Board with rich cronies who have doled out unconscionably high increases in annual rents for tenants who are supposed to be protected by the stabilization law. Beyond that, Bloomberg refuses to join the fight for strengthening the rent laws for the 2.5 million middle class New Yorkers who depend on them.
- Bloomberg has driven up fees on almost everything that he can in New York and engages in overzealous ticketing of pedestrians and drivers in order to rack up revenue for the City without regard to the burden he is imposing on average New Yorkers.
- Bloomberg’s signature issue was supposed to be improvement of the schools, but he has abused his mayoral power of the system to destroy it. The increase in test scores that his rich friends touted in ads before the election were shown by state and federal authorities to be totally phony as scores on statewide and nationwide tests have actually fallen in the City. Now we learn that while the graduation rate is 64 percent (nothing to crow about), only 23 percent of high school graduates are prepared for college or the world of work. This is an indictment of Bloomberg, capped by his arrogant imposition of Cathie Black as chancellor despite the fact that she has ZERO experience with public schools and her solution to overcrowding in schools is “use more birth control.” Our students and teachers are expected to meet tough standards. Bloomberg’s lesson in picking Cathie Black is that earning credentials means nothing.
- Bloomberg’s administration is notable for its lack of African American and Latino commissioners, advisers, and leadership in a City where the majority of the population is African American or Latino. But what can you expect from the man who often spends weekends—including during the worst snowstorm in recent memory—off in Bermuda at the exclusive Mid-Ocean golf club where he is a member.
The self-appointed gay leaders who endorsed Bloomberg for re-election in 2009 have a lot to answer for. They are destroying the LGBT movement's historic alliance with other progressive causes.
THE LGBT HALL OF SHAME (affiliations courtesy of the Bloomberg campaign):
- Isaac Mizrahi, clothing designer
- Tim Gunn, Board Member - Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and Host of “Project Runway”
- Rev. Michael DeLaney, Rector, Church of St. Andrew & Grand Marshall of Staten Island Pride
- Kelli Conlin, President - NARAL Pro-Choice New York
- Gavin Creel, Co-Founder - Broadway Impact
- Florent Morellet, activist and eponymous restaurateur
- Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winning writer/producer of Milk and 2009 NYC Pride Grand Marshall
- David Mixner, activist
- Richard Socarides, attorney and former Special Assistant to President Clinton
- Cherry Jones, Broadway actress & President Taylor on “24”
- Bill White, President, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Paul Alfarait, architect
- John Bartlett, clothing designer
- Wayne Besen, Founder – Truth Wins Out
- Charles Busch, playwright
- Peter Cameron, novelist
- Jim Colucci, writer
- Guillermo Chacón, Executive Staff Vice President, Latino Commission on AIDS
- Ken Dash, Delegate – 2008 Democratic National Convention
- Joshua David, Co-Founder - Friends of the High Line
- Frank DeCaro, writer and performer
- Joseph Evall, Board Member - Ali Forney Center
- Michael Field, Board Member - LGBT Community Center
- Neil Giuliano, former President of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
- Diana Glazer, theater director & producer
- Mitchell Gold, activist & furniture designer
- Robert Hammond, Co-Founder - Friends of the High Line
- Michael Huffington, former Member of Congress (CA)
- Williamson Henderson, Director - Stonewall Veterans
- Corey Johnson, LGBT activist
- Thomas Koveleskie, Board Co-Chair, NGLCC-NY
- Bari Mattes, former Board Chair - Hetrick-Martin Institute
- James McKernan, owner, Q s.i.n.y.
- Richard Oceguera, Executive Director, NGLCC-NY
- Kyle Merker, Board Chair – Ali Forney Center
- Matthew Moore, Board Vice Chair - Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC)
- Richard Move, director and choreographer
- Rory O'Malley, Co-Founder - Broadway Impact
- Mario Palumbo, LGBT activist
- Peter Stamberg, architect
- Jeremy Reiss, labor activist & Adjunct Professor at the CUNY Joseph Murphy Labor Institute
- Jacob Reitan, Founder – EqualityRide
- Sean Strub, creator of Poz Magazine & Mamm Magazine
- Kevin Malony, theater director
- J. Andrew Ward, Board Vice Chair - Ali Forney Center
- Marc Wolinsky, Lead attorney in challenge to “Don't Ask Don't Tell”
- Andrew Zobler, hotelier
- Community Activists: Marilyn Abalos, Ryan J. Davis, Scott Elkins, Bryan Eure, Luke Mohatt, Peter Pavich, Aaron Hutcherson, Matthew Kelleher, Migdalia Maldonado, Ben Murphy, Richard Myer, Charles Myers, Adriana Garcia, Shoshana Frishberg, Nitza Tufino, Francisca Rivera, Dr. Mildred Ramirez, Casey Crawford, Roni Billini, Karen Green and Timothy Wroten.