Two unrelated articles today look at Mayor Bloomberg’s handling of the city’s financial windfall. Mike seems to be doing a pretty good job redistributing the wealth, although the Times story notes a certain boomtown mentality in his spending patterns. It’s true that, aside from investing heavily in infrastructure, construction, and things like teachers’ salaries (up 40 percent), a lot of Bloombergian projects are the large-scale equivalent of splurging on a cleaning lady and high-speed Internet: The mayor tripled our IT budget, increased the parks spending by almost one-third, and added 10,000 workers to the city payroll. It’s almost as if our main moneymaker, real estate, hadn’t just teetered on the precipice six years ago, after 9/11, and weren’t quite possibly heading down the toilet again.
To be fair, Bloomberg’s not just playing with city revenues. According to the Post, the mayor handed $165 million of his own to a whopping 1,077 charities in 2006 – the most he’s ever given in a year. And, of course, the billionaire is himself a bit of a bargain: As the Times reminds us, Mike’s insistence on paying his own transportation and living expenses saves the city tens of millions a year. So if the man wants new playground swings, new swings he shall get.