Bloomberg Has Earned A Third Term
Three weeks ago, suspects with ties to terrorist groups abroad were arrested here and in Denver, Colorado. The investigation that led to the arrests continues as we speak. Those arrests and the ongoing investigation that continues to ensure New York City's ranking as the safest big city in America are due in large part to the efforts of the man the Gazette endorses for a third term as the city's chief executive. Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office on Jan. 1, 2002, and for the last seven years has made the counter-terrorism measures of the New York City Police Department at home and abroad of equally high priority to police street and index crime eradication efforts.
A policy that makes countering threats to the city's safety and security among his highest priorities is among the many reasons the Gazette backed Bloomberg earlier this year before the primary election, even though he faced no potential opponents from the Republican or Independence Parties, on which lines he is running. We still think we did the right thing in voicing our support of a third term for the incumbent city chief executive in our August 12 edition. The last day to register for the general election is October 8, and we strongly encourage any and all of our readers who are eligible to register and therefore vote in the general election November 3 to do so with all possible speed.
Bloomberg has improved many aspects of life in New York City. Since the mayor took control of the public school system, the number of fourth-graders passing state reading exams is up by more than 20 percentage points and state math exams by more than 30 percentage points. The fouryear high school graduation rate in New York City has increased by15.2 percentage points. Bloomberg has turned school crime numbers around, as well. School crime is down 44 percent since 2001.
Crime rates are dropping outside schoolyard gates as well. The New York City crime rate is at its lowest level in more than 40 years and has dropped nearly 30 percent since Bloomberg took office. When we last called for his re-election, the mayor had overseen efforts by police and citizens alike that had brought down crime another 12 percent to date. Anomalies arise from time to time, but they are just that— anomalies, not the norm.
Under Michael Bloomberg, New York City is the cleanest it has been in more than 30 years. City government now responds to issues like illegal dumping and graffiti far faster and more efficiently because Bloomberg created 311 and SCOUT, a new program where a team of inspectors travels every city street once a month and reports conditions that negatively impact quality of life. Dirty streets are another threat to the quality of life to which all New Yorkers are entitled, and during Bloomberg's tenure, the percentage of streets rated "acceptably clean" raised to 95.7 percent- the highest level since the rating system was created.
Bloomberg's PlaNYC has as its ambitious goal ensuring that every New Yorker lives within a ten-minute walk of a park. Since Bloomberg took office and led New York's greatest parks development and revitalization program in more than half a century, almost 500 acres of new parkland have been added and the city has plans to build eight new regional parks.
City government should serve the New Yorkers who are its customers, not the other way around. New Yorkers can access their government with one easy phone call to the 311 information hotline. Since its inception, New Yorkers have utilized 311 more than 74 million times. Every day, tens of thousands of New Yorkers call 311 to access a wide variety of services, including financial counseling.
More than half a million New Yorkers on cash assistance have been placed in jobs, and Bloomberg has reduced New York's welfare rolls to their lowest level in 45 years. Many of those formerly on welfare have found gainful employment through improved job placement programs implemented by Bloomberg.
Bloomberg's competence and ability in dealing with the city's financial issues may well be the most important of all his accomplishments in office. To prepare for a future downturn, the mayor has cut planned spending by more than $2 billion, reduced debt costs by $3.2 billion and set aside $2.5 billion for retirees' benefits. Taking note of these developments, three independent bond-rating agencies rated the city's credit at or near its highest levels ever. Higher bond ratings means that the city can invest in the infrastructure it needs at lower costs to the taxpayer.
Bloomberg's opponent, city Comptroller William Thompson, is a good man and an opponent worthy of Bloomberg's steel, but simply put, this is not his year. There may be other opportunities for Thompson to have a run at offices other than that of Comptroller, and we urge him to consider throwing his hat in those rings when the time comes. For now, though, we stand behind Bloomberg.
Bloomberg deserves the opportunity to finish what he started of his many accomplishments in the last eight years. We urge all those eligible to vote in the general election on November 3 to return Michael Bloomberg to the mayor's office for another four years.