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Anti-Bloomberg Group’s Newspaper Hits the Streets

Alex Kane Aug 12, 2009

Fed up with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his run for a third term?

Other New Yorkers are too, and they’re not expressing that sentiment quietly.

A new, free rag has hit the streets of our city, put together by a group calling itself the Fed Up New Yorkers Coalition (FUNY).  Billing itself as “the best of NYC blogs about the worst of NYC politics,” the coalition boasts some impressive names:  Nat Hentoff, a former writer for the Village Voice; Ira Glasser, the former national director for the American Civil Liberties Union; and John Scott, the downtown “club chair” for the Working Families Party.  The founding member of the coalition is Neil Fabricant, who publishes BloombergWatch.com.

Their main line of attack is that “no third term means no third term,” although inside the paper you will find plenty of anti-Bloomberg screeds ranging from criticism on mayoral control of schools to his support for the massive development project known as Atlantic Yards.

People are “happy to see an independent paper providing information that goes against the mainstream opinion that voters generally approve of the mayor. Especially with the media flooded with publicity for Bloomberg, the number of ads the Bloomberg campaign is putting on our TV sets and in our mailboxes, this does a part in balancing the debate,” Mike Dang, a journalist and editor at BloombergWatch.com, wrote in an email to the Indypendent.

The front cover for both of the issues is eye-catching enough, even if you aren’t interested in reading the articles.  The second issue’s front cover, which hit the streets early this week, has the mayor celebrating on a ritzy boat with his rich buddies while the middle and lower classes are squeezed into the bottom two floors.  Surrounding the boat are sharks with the words “bankers,” “developers,” “landlords,” and “Democratic consultants” written on them–a not so veiled barb at Howard Wolfson, a big-shot Democratic Party strategist who has criticized Bloomberg in the past but is now on Bloomberg’s payroll taking shots at Bill Thompson, the likely Democratic mayoral nominee.

Could this coalition tap into under the surface anti-Bloomberg sentiment?  The mayor is still leading in polls against his Democratic challengers, but that has started to slip, even as he floods New Yorkers with a barrage of television ads and mailings.  A late July Quinnipiac University poll shows Bloomberg leading Thompson 47%-37%,  compared to a mid-June poll that showed Bloomberg beating Thompson 54% to 32%.

However, as some commentators have pointed out, the latest poll had the mayor identified as both an independent and a Republican, a no-no in this Democratic bastion, while the older one identified Bloomberg as only an independent.

The coalition is also targeting Speaker Christine Quinn and the so-called “Bloomberg 29,” the City Council members who voted to give themselves and the mayor another term.

In the second issue, advertisements were placed by the Rev. Billy Talen, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate, Margaret Chin, a council candidate for district 1 who is looking to unseat Alan Gerson, one of the “Bloomberg 29,” and the venerable civil rights lawyer and candidate for public advocate Norman Siegel.

The paper doesn’t take a position on the Democratic primary, and Dang said that, “the coalition is made up of groups who come from a variety of political dispositions, that feel very strongly that Bloomberg needs to go. Some like Thompson, others Avella — Rev. Talen as well.”  FUNY, Dang said, will be supporting whoever the Democratic nominee is, which will be decided in the Sept. 15 primary.

Asked whether their coalition was part of an “anyone but Bloomberg” campaign, comparable to the failed “anybody but Bush” campaign during the presidential campaign in 2004, Dang wrote:  “I think the situation now, compared to the ‘anyone but Bush’ movement in 2004, is different. Imagine if Bush tried to go for a third term, overturned term limits and said voters could make their decision in 2008. It wouldn’t have flown. The term limits issue, along with the many ways Bloomberg has negatively affected the lives of New Yorkers, is creating an entirely different movement.”

For more hard-hitting Bloomberg coverage, check out the Indypendent’s article “Bill the Billionaire.”

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