photo via pablo57, flickr
At Thursday’s dazzling opening night of the Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus, a cavalcade of politicians stepped into the ring with the performers in a Salute to Coney Island. Mayor Bloomberg, who was presented with a ringmaster’s top hat, remarked that he worked in “the Second Greatest Show on Earth”—politics.
The Mayor spent $84.5 million to win the last election. This time round aides say he plans to spend up to $100 million after successfully overturning the term limits. I’ve already received more than a dozen campaign calls and fliers. On opening night at the circus in Coney, I was surprised to see Boom A Ring Boulevard (21st Street) lined with electioneerers holding clipboards and campaign signs that read “Brooklyn for Bloomberg.” Inside the circus, my friend was stunned to encounter men in suits trying to hand out Mayor Mike brochures to people waiting to use the Port-O-Potties during intermission.
The Mayor and city officials deserve a standing ovation for bringing Ringling Bros. to Coney Island after the circus’s negotiations with greedy landlord Joe Sitt of Thor Equities fell through. But if the Mayor wants to win my vote, he must first Save Coney Island’s amusement zone from Joe Sitt’s desecration.
What about the $60 million difference between Sitt’s asking price and the City’s “final offer” for the People’s Playground? Bloomberg the philanthropist could chip in anonymously as he has done when giving $175 million intended for the City’s not-for-profits to the Carnegie Corporation. Or considering the city’s budget constraints, perhaps Bloomie could pay the entire $165 million and we’ll name a new roller coaster after him.
What’s the advantage of re-electing a billionaire mayor who is the nation’s no. 1 philanthropist (donated $235 million in 2008) if he can’t save Coney Island from being gutted during his administration by a predatory real estate speculator?
Bloomberg the philanthropist told the NY Times, “As the economy took a turn from bad to worse, I felt it was the right time — the essential time — for someone like me, someone who’s been so fortunate in my own life, to step up and give back even more. I don’t think of it only as a responsibility, but as a privilege.”
Ask yourself this question: Is Coney Island better off or worse off since Bloomberg became Mayor? The Bloomberg administration started this Coney Island rezoning hoopla that triggered Joe Sitt’s destructive buying spree. The Mayor is obligated to set things right.
It’s time for Bloomberg the philanthropist to buy the People’s Playground and give it back to the People of New York!