The Heat in DC, and the Lessons from New York
by Anthony Stasi
Jun 29, 2010 | 7363 views | 0 0 comments | 278 278 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bloomberg may not be at the height of his popularity even after winning a third term, but there is a general consensus that he is in charge of city policy. Notice how he has far less trouble crafting a budget than Albany does. He rarely gets too vocal, and he tends to remain visible on major issues. It is hard to govern for two terms and remain popular. Usually, the sixth year of any second term is the tough one. President Reagan’s sixth year had the Iran Contra Affair. Clinton had Monica Lewinsky and impeachment in his sixth. Bush had Katrina (which was more his fifth year, but close enough). Giuliani had a rough sixth year, which caused him to reach out to opposition groups more. Bloomberg has survived those types of demons.

If that seems as though analyzing the mayor is without reason, just look at other cities. In Washington D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty is desperately trying to win a Democratic primary and stay in office. Fenty has tried hard to mirror the management style of Mayor Bloomberg. Only four years ago, Fenty was the young, energetic mayor that Washington needed. Now, his personality and management style is what has him fighting for his political life. Bloomberg never gets painted into those corners. Few would ask Bloomberg to guest host The Tonight Show, but he is also careful to keep a professional pace in his management of the city. Overstepping term limits is not part of management style - just in case you were about to fire off an email.

The speed bumps that Fenty has rolled over are all about him, and not so much about policy. Fenty has championed vouchers and charter schools in a city that needs it. He sticks by tough cabinet members, and he took a bold step in housing the homeless by ordering new construction. So why is he at risk of losing to Councilman Vincent Gray, who has arguably less of a plan for the city? Fenty has alienated a lot of voters in D.C., and that is not something that Bloomberg ever does in large quantities. Sure, Bloomberg upset some people with term limits, property taxes, and a few other things, but he never gets to a point where he is on the outside looking in. Six months after Bloomberg banned smoking in just about every place other than tobacco fields in Tennessee, he was back on top with the public. Other mayors cannot do that. Going against popular will and popular behavior is independent, but Fenty needs to be better at gauging it.

Fenty followed Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who decided not to run for re-election four years ago. Williams was well liked, and Fenty in comparison is a little harsher. Bloomberg replaced Rudy Giuliani, arguably the best mayor in New York City history, but with a personality that makes Bloomberg seem warmer. That is a difference between Bloomberg and Fenty. Washington needs a young dynamic mayor, and Fenty needs to do whatever it takes to get back there.

California Dreamin’…With The Help Of Government Money

It came to light recently that welfare recipients in California were using welfare debit cards at casino ATM machines. By no means was this a majority of people, only less than 1 percent of the welfare doled each year was being withdrawn at casino ATM machines. Reports of this only say that the welfare cards were withdrawn at casino ATMs, but never say that people are gambling with the money they withdraw, but it is obvious that they are gambling with their welfare money. After all, nobody would pay those astronomical casino ATM fees (think $9 or more) without needing the money to gamble. If a person is already on welfare, and still willing to foot the cost for a $9 fee, they are there to win it back and more. Unfortunately, they most likely will not win.

What makes this a non-story is that the California government is already working to remedy the situation by having those ATMs no longer accept state welfare debit cards. What is important, however, is that this program that offers welfare recipients debit cards does not get jeopardized because of the story. This is a good program, and more than 99 percent of welfare recipients are not heading to casinos. Going forward, it might be smart government to have machines in casinos, bars, and liquor stores programmed to reject these welfare debit cards so people will use them for basic needs.

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