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August 18, 2009

Missing from the New Yorker's Bloomberg profile: public authorities and the real story of Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

A profile in this week's New Yorker, clocking in at more than ten thousand words, is headlined The Untouchable: Can a good mayor amass too much power?, and presents this tension:

Thanks to his money, Bloomberg has managed, perhaps more than any democratic politician ever before, to govern strictly with what he considers to be the greater good in mind. And, thanks to his money, the counterargument goes, he has essentially corrupted the system itself.

Is it always the greater good? In other words, should the Mayor be seen, at worst, as using questionable means for good ends, or do questionable means lead to questionable ends?

I think Bloomberg's record is mixed, but on Atlantic Yards and development issues, he's vulnerable to much criticism. So Ben McGrath's New Yorker profile, while reasonably thorough and hardly a valentine, could've been much tougher.

Notably, had McGrath waited until this week to write, he would've learned that Bloomberg is the prime culprit in an effort to stall reform of public authorities, as Assemblyman Richard Brodsky pointed out yesterday.

And if he'd dug further, he would've concluded that Bloomberg's appointees on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board provided the crucial, but dubious, justification in June for revising the Vanderbilt Yard deal with Forest City Ratner.

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Posted by lumi at August 18, 2009 5:45 AM