Friday, January 18, 2008

The State of the City

Let's forget for a moment all the hype about Bloomberg for President and concentrate on his current job. Yesterday, Mayor Mike delivered his annual State of the City Address and in The Optimist's opinion it was a good one. Usually addresses of this ilk from the President, Governor, etc. are fluffy pie-in-the-sky promise fests, punctuated by ovations to a few commoners the incumbent dredged up to co-opt the glory of their actual achievements.

Though Bloomberg's address did follow this cookie-cutter format, there is ample reason for New Yorkers to believe he intends to do most of what he proclaimed. His proposals for improvements in law enforcement, public health, education, and the streamlining of government are ambitious, but also manageable and consistent with his policies throughout the course of his administration. Of course, there are particular proposals to take issue with - The Optimist is particularly opposed to the Mayor's plan to take DNA samples from anyone who is arrested - but on a whole his plans seem sensible and forward-thinking.

I was especially pleased that the overarching theme of Bloomberg's address was immigration. The Mayor decried the "xenophobia" that has been part of the stump speech for all the Republican candidates this year - a condemnation quickly interpreted by political pundits as a tacit push for Bloomberg's own presidential aspirations. But immigration is for New Yorkers, first and foremost, a local issue. Living in what is arguably the most diverse place on Earth, we New Yorkers understand intuitively that immigration is, as Bloomberg put it, the "energy" of our City - just as it has been since the founding of New Amsterdam. It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that in the spirit of true liberty, we continue to embrace the past, present, and future generations of immigrants that arrive upon our shores not just looking to create better lives for themselves, but, in so doing, to make all of our lives better.

By almost all accounts, Bloomberg has been a fine Mayor of New York, who has made good on the lion's share of the often robust promises he has made. It is on the strength of his having done so that he has won over almost all of his early critics (myself included), even persuading many of them to vote for him last time around (as I did).

That being said, The Optimist doesn't want Bloomberg to be President, because I am a progressive Democrat, who believes strongly in the principles advanced by a number of our potential nominees. But I also doesn't want Bloomberg to be President, because I want to keep him focused on continuing to make New York an even greater city.

Last night's "Protest for Parks" town hall meeting spoke volumes about the importance of Bloomberg to this city. In almost every instance, the representatives of The Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning stressed that their proposed park initiatives had to break ground while Bloomberg was still in office, because of his exceptional support for green spaces. Each member of GWAPP took turns warning us that there was no telling what would happen to these important projects once someone else becomes Mayor.

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