Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg hid plenty from New York citizens while campaigning for third term

Adam Lisberg

Sunday, November 22nd 2009, 10:07 AM

Then-governor of Alaska Sarah Palin met with Mayor Bloomberg in October 2007. Daily News asked for copies of these photos on July 8, but received them after Bloomberg was elected for the third time.
Tucker/Mayor's Office
Then-governor of Alaska Sarah Palin met with Mayor Bloomberg in October 2007. Daily News asked for copies of these photos on July 8, but received them after Bloomberg was elected for the third time.


• The city budget deficit isn't as bad as he said.Here's what you missed while Mayor Bloomberg was running for a third term - because he kept it under wraps until after the ballots were counted:

• The NYPD was quietly exempted from the budget cuts at almost every other agency.

• A $60 million tax loss that gave Bloomberg a soap box to rail against the state Senate has magically vanished.

But that's all just numbers. What really drives the point home is the photo of Bloomberg and Sarah Palin hanging around in City Hall.

The picture - and six others - was shot Oct. 10, 2007, when the then-governor of Alaska was on a visit to New York.

Bloomberg hosts visiting pols all the time for short meet-and-greets, and nobody knew at the time that, a year later, Palin would become a controversial Republican icon.

The photos might have been inconvenient for Bloomberg while he was running against Democrat Bill Thompson in a heavily Democratic city, but they belong to the taxpayers.

The Daily News asked for copies of the photographs July 8. Under the state Freedom of Information Law, Bloomberg's lawyer Anthony Crowell had to respond within five days.

He handed them over two weeks after the election.

"There is simply no good reason for delaying disclosure," said the state's top public records watchdog, Robert Freeman, of the Committee on Open Government. "Embarrassment is not one of the grounds."

The photos are just a sideshow, though, compared to the city's improving financial picture.

In the campaign, Bloomberg and Thompson were pressed on how they would fill the $4.9 billion hole in next year's budget.

Documents released last week show a huge increase in tax revenues - cutting the hole down to $4.1 billion. Bloomberg knew that when he made his campaign pledge not to raise taxes; Thompson was in the dark.

"These are enormous numbers of great concern. Whether you have to walk 1,000 miles or 1,200 miles, either way, it's a long walk," said Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser. "We've made no secret of the fact that we have a very conservative budget."

The new budget figures also showed the NYPD was allowed to rescind $120 million in budget cuts, despite Bloomberg's tough talk about making painful decisions.

And perhaps you remember Bloomberg's July complaints about how the Senate's refusal to raise the city sales tax would cost the city $60 million a month.

The tax was raised in August instead. The new estimates show the $60 million gap has disappeared, which a spokesman attributed to more commerce in the city than expected.

Even if New Yorkers had known all of this, it may not have done much to change the outcome of a relatively close election. Still, Bloomberg used the power of his office to lessen the risk.

"That's the advantage of being in power," Baruch College Prof. Doug Muzzio said. "If knowledge is power, this is a perfect example of it."

alisberg@nydailynews.com

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