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Bloomberg’s New Frenemy

A conniption over congestion.

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Among the more bizarre outcomes of last week’s marathon backroom political orgy in Albany—congestion pricing passed as concept! Campaign-reform laws agreed to! An agreement to agree to keep on talking!—is the souring of Mayor Bloomberg’s chummy relationship with one of his biggest Democratic allies in the State Senate, Minority Leader Malcolm Smith. “Malcolm is burning a bridge that he probably shouldn’t have burned,” says one source close to the mayor. Bloomberg had counted on Smith to deliver enough Democratic votes to pass his controversial congestion-pricing plan. But Smith didn’t twist any arms, saying Bloomberg had alienated Democrats by arming their counterparts in Joe Bruno’s Republican majority with hundreds of thousands in campaign cash. Bloomberg questioned Smith’s “courage,” but Smith predicts that the mayor will forgive him—someday. “Was he upset? Sure he was,” Smith says. “But we have that kind of relationship where we understand each other. This was business.”

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