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Teflon Mike

Everyone from the rich to the nicotine-deprived is mad at the mayor. But don’t count him out yet: Even the legions who oppose him know our woes aren’t really hizzoner’s fault.

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Who’s mad at Mayor Mike?

Let’s see: Smokers, standing on the sidewalk outside the bar in the endless spring rain trying to keep their cigarettes lit. The bartender, trying to keep track of which stools are really vacant and which need to be held for the smokers outside. The bar owner, paying triple his previous trash-collection cost because of stricter Dumpster rules.

The occupants of rent-stabilized apartments, whose monthly bills are going up as much as 8.5 percent. Homeowners, whose property tax already went up 18 percent. The homeless, who are being tossed out of scatter-site apartments.

The city’s wealthiest, stuck with an unprecedented 12 percent income-tax rate. The city’s poorest elderly, who won’t be getting free meals on weekends anymore.

Anyone who parked six inches too close to a fire hydrant and finds a $105 ticket glowing orange under his windshield-wiper blade.

The cops writing those tickets.

Firefighters, blasted as lazy by a deputy mayor and threatened with firehouse closings.

Public-school parents whose kids will continue to be squeezed into overcrowded classrooms.

Residents of blocks already strewn with Styrofoam peanuts and sticky soda cans who will see their garbage-collection schedule cut in half. Sanitation workers—the ones laid off and the ones left riding longer routes.

So Bloomberg’s happy electoral base is . . . nonsmoking, bike-riding private-school students?

It’s breathtaking how broadly Bloomberg has spread antagonism in a mere seventeen months in office. What’s stranger still is the civility of the rage.

Bitching about the mayor is a time-honored New York sport. What’s breathtaking is how broadly Bloomberg has spread the antagonism in a mere seventeen months in office. But what’s stranger still is the civility of the rage. Yes, thousands of protesters have marched on City Hall. And in a few pockets, like the offices of the teachers’ union, Bloomberg is actually hated. Otherwise, there’s a curious lack of passion to the bashing.

Last week, for instance, Bloomberg was the featured speaker at the 100th-anniversary dinner of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. The city’s heavy-construction industry is well into recession; major work at the World Trade Center site is at least three years away. Yet Bloomberg, tanned and trim, strode into Chelsea Piers and was greeted with a standing ovation. “This must be the 32 percent!” he joked, referring to his recent abysmal approval rating.

Between the speeches, the plumbers, steamfitters, and electricians scattered to smoke—outside, of course—and to grumble. “This is worse than the seventies,” said Jack Kittle, from the painters’ union. “And I don’t see any hope on the horizon.” Yet the complaining was oddly muted, and indicative of how the mayor is largely being forgiven for the city’s economic hard times. “Bloomberg was handed a plate of shit when he took office,” Kittle said. “So it’s not all his fault.”


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