Illustration for article titled Mike Bloomberg Is Full of Shit and So Are His Surrogates
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

CHARLESTON, S.C.—On my connecting flight from Atlanta to Columbia, S.C., I sat next to a man who was very musty. But it wasn’t in-your-face musty. It was that type of musty that whisks under your nose when someone walks by the person carrying the offensive odor. On a scale of 1 to 10, this man was around 8. There should be some FAA guidelines barring people too funky to fly because my lungs certainly felt violated during our 40-minute flight.

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I’ve learned to hold my breath for at least 45 seconds at a time as a result of that experience.

But there are some people whose odor not only stinks, it STANKS. The odor sits in your clothes to the point where you have to just toss them in the washer. You can’t just leave them on after a short flight, walk into an open, airy space and you are all good. Politicians’ funk wears on the clothes in a similar way, particularly the really bad ones. But they are harder to get ride of because they are elected officials. You are stuck with them until something huge, like a democratic process takes them out of your space, along with their funk. That funky person that we’re all forced to deal with at the moment is former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

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In New York, we had to smell his shitty police and housing policies for three terms. Now he wants to take his stank-ass record with black people to the White House and expect us to believe he is better on black issues than his competitors. He smells much worse than that man on my flight. Bloomberg not only smells like shit when he talks about his record as mayor in New York City, he is trying to present that shit on a plate as a gourmet meal and expects us to eat it.

Unfortunately, as some polls suggest, a lot of people seem to like the piles of shit he’s putting on their plates. Last night, Bloomberg lied on the debate stage that he cut the stop and frisk by 95 percent, adding that he let the program “get out of control.” That is not true. A federal judge ruled the practice unconstitutional and forced the city to stop in 2013.

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In fact, he expanded the program beyond the scope of his predecessor, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He then attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders on his gun control record.

To be sure, there are legitimate critiques of Sanders’ voting record on gun reform, but I find Bloomberg’s attack curious. For one, his expansion of stop and frisk presumed that many of the black and Latino men targeted under the program were carrying guns and other weapons. They almost never were; in fact, most guns were found outside stop and frisk locations. He has consistently claimed stop and frisk lead to a reduction in crime when studies prove that isn’t true. And while he does deserve praise for his national efforts to address gun violence, it is ironic that he failed to listen to the community leaders who warned him of stop and frisk during his three terms in office.

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But the most funny part of last night’s debate came when he criticized Sanders for praising Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro.

It was a classic case of American exceptionalism in which Bloomberg spoke as if America doesn’t engage in human rights abuses. Mind you, this is the same mayor who presided over Rikers Island, in which uses of force against inmates and solitary confinement increased under his watch.

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Let us not forget how his police department very likely illegally stopped Kalief Browder in May of 2010 for a robbery he did not commit and jailed him in Rikers Island for three years before he was released; he later committed suicide.

As a reward to himself, he asked the city council in 2008 to amend the rules for him to run for a third time, even when 89 percent of residents wanted to vote via referendum whether any mayor should be able to run for a third term. But, Sanders is the person who praises authoritarian leaders who undermine democracy?

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How rich.

Bloomberg is Exhibit A of a man who thinks his shit doesn’t stink.

But he is not the only person who is serving his shit on platters for voters to eat. His surrogates are more than willing to serve it to us, too.

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During a presser yesterday here in Charleston, five current and former black mayors and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks praised the mayor for his record as mayor and his work to curb gun violence and efforts to empower young black men. In his opening remarks, Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin said Sanders has not been fully vetted, arguing that he did not take on the NRA by voting against gun safety legislation. Former Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver said he voted against the Brady bill five times and “let’s rewind to the 1990s. If Bernie had his way we wouldn’t have any background checks system in place. None at all.”

Augusta Mayor Harvie Davis, Jr. followed up and decried Sander embrace of the NRA and that people of color care disproportionally impacted by gun violence.

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Here’s the thing: They aren’t completely wrong, but are very misleading with the facts.

Sanders record on gun control from the late 1980s and 1990s was not stellar. He did vote against the Brady bill five times, but he voted for a ban on assault rifles in 1995, according to Politifact. Since 2013, Sanders has voted in favor of gun control in most cases.

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Yes, Sanders’ record on gun control is mixed and his reasons for losing his 1998 congressional race may not be tethered to his support of gun control like he claimed last night (some suggest it was because, as an independent candidate, he split votes with a Democrat), but that is not the issue. The ways in which Bloomberg’s surrogates tried to sell us on Bernie was basically, “Bloomberg is less messy than Sanders.”

No, he is not.

Under stop and frisk, the vast majority of people stopped, nearly more than 80 percent, were young black and Latino men. To this day, NYPD officers make illegal arrests of people from records that were supposed to be sealed—those arrests are connected to the stop and frisk program Bloomberg expanded under his watch. The black and Latino men who were stopped under the racist practice often faced verbal and physical abuse. The trauma those stops created can’t be erased by Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative they tried to sell the media who were in attendance at the presser.

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Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake criticized Sanders for Vermont having one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation for black Americans (She’s right. It is high to be such a white-ass state) and that blacks are four times more likely to be pulled over than whites. (she’s right on that, too).

But here is the thing: Rawlings-Blake is in no position to criticize. During her time as mayor of Baltimore, the city paid out more than $5.7 million in settlements over police brutality cases that impacted most black residents between 2011 and 2014. The Baltimore Police Department entered a Department ofJustice consent decree amid the uprising over Freddie Gray, who died from injuries suffered under police custody in 2015. The DOJ in 2016 also found that the police department under her watch engaged in racial profiling of black drivers and pedestrians.

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Here are some highlights from the report, per CNN:

• African-Americans accounted for 95% of 410 individuals stopped at least 10 times from 2010 to 2016

• One African-American man in his 50s was stopped 30 times in less than four years; none of the stops resulted in a citation or criminal charge

• African-Americans accounted for 82% of all BPD vehicle stops though they make up 60% of the driving age population in the city and 27% percent of the driving age population in the greater metropolitan area

• BPD officers found contraband twice as often when searching white individuals compared to African-Americans during vehicle stops and 50% more often during pedestrian stops

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What is more insulting about Rawlings-Blake’s references to the incarceration rates and stops in Vermont is that she didn’t do any better in regard to the Baltimore criminal legal system’s abuse of power as mayor.

Pot calling the kettle black, ma’am?

The reality is income inequality worsened under Bloomberg and so did homelessness. The number of New Yorkers in shelters rose 69 percent during his three terms in office. Weaver praised Bloomberg for sending a team of people to help them with their water crisis, but he did little to nothing to address the lead paint crisis in the public housing of his own city that lead to chronic health issues of black and Latino kids in the city’s residential buildings .

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Cordell Cleare, a Harlem mother who was a leading efforts in 2003 against landlords to fix the issue, told Mother Jones recently that the former mayor gave her an insulting response during their meeting to address the problem:

“He said, ‘Yeah, well, I just don’t understand certain behaviors in certain populations,’” Cleare recalled on a recent morning over a cup of tea at a Dunkin’ Donuts on 116th Street. “Then he told me his foundation was trying to find out why people take drugs.”

She understood the mayor’s insinuation: Irresponsible minority parents, not landlords, were the ones to blame for lead-tainted paint dust coating the floors and surfaces of their poorly maintained apartments.

“I took it as an insult,” Cleare said. “It was so mind-blowing to me that I honestly can’t tell you how I came back. Everything just stopped right there, and I said, ‘I’m talking about lead-poisoned kids.’”

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Also, the New York City Housing Authority failed to adequately ensure that tenant repair requests were honored. In fact, the authority under his watch cooked the books to the point where the number showed requests for repairs were down 75 percent, drawing suspicion from local and federal investigators. Their suspicions proved to be true.

Federal prosecutors “discovered that NYCHA illegally halted required apartment inspections to reduce the number of new requests—and marked nearly 200,000 pending requests as “closed” without any work being done,” according to The City.

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And you know who did not double-check those figures? The man who made his billions off of data-driven businesses practices, Michael Bloomberg.

“From 2012 through June 2018 — including the last two years of the Bloomberg administration — 1,160 children living in NYCHA apartments registered dangerous levels of lead in their blood,” The City added in their report.

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Bloomberg doesn’t give a fuck about black and Latino people and for those black surrogates to drag their asses in front of us during the presser to argue otherwise is a goddamn shame.

Meeks asked rhetorically if Sanders holds himself to a different standard than other candidates after accusing the senator of going after his opponents after they’ve apologized for their mistakes.

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“Have we heard or does Bernie Sanders need to apologize to the grieving families who have sued gun makers but face hurdles in court due to Bernie Sanders vote,” he said. “Too often Bernie Sanders has been on the wrong side of history.”

Come on, bruh.

I haven’t heard Bloomberg apologize to all those black families who were brutalized under stop and frisk (not black “leaders,” as if they speak for all of us) and those who are facing illnesses from his poor handling of the lead crisis in his own city, negro.

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Did Bloomberg apologize to Sean Bell’s family, Congressman Meeks? You should know. The NYPD killed the man in your borough.

The issue isn’t that these surrogates are not making legitimate points against Bernie. The problem is that they are making them in defense of a man whose record with black people is incomparably worse because Bloomberg was responsible for governing more than two million of them in New York, the largest concentration of black people in a city than elsewhere in the nation.

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Bernie did not have that responsibility and it is not fair to draw parallels.

Bernie may smell a bit musty on some issues with black folks (I mean, most white folks are like this), but Bloomberg is a shit sandwich and his black surrogates are trying to serve him to us on a platter.

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Bernie is a lot of things, but he is not this.

I only had to spend less than an hour with that musty man on the short flight from Atlanta to Columbia, but he isn’t asking me to vote for him for president. I can’t hold my nose through four years of Bloomberg’s shit. And the American people need to ask themselves if they truly believe Bloomberg’s claims that he can clean up the White House as president when he couldn’t clean the lead from New York’s residential buildings.

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Bernie may be a little musty (not even as bad as that dude on the plane), but Bloomberg smells like shit.

Because he and his surrogates are all full of it.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

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