Yesterday’s protest at Chatham Square
As New York’s mayoral election draws near, there’s been a fair amount of speculation about how Michael Bloomberg will do downtown, especially in Chinatown. Yesterday, I attended two events that offered two very different perspectives on the mayor’s popularity in the neighborhood.
Chatham Square was the setting for a protest organized by several groups, including the
Center Residents Coalition, the Chinese Small Business Alliance, the Lin Ze Xu
Foundation and the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association. They held up a huge “report card,” Bloomberg’s “failing grades” in every category (safety, education, etc) but one. The groups gave Bloomberg an “A” for lying. Speakers listed a litany of complaints, including the continued closing of Park Row, inattention to dangerous conditions near the Manhattan Bridge, placard abuse, the failure to include Chinatown in the LES rezoning plan, etc.
Justin Yu, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
But a few minutes earlier, several blocks away in Little Italy, one of Chinatown’s most influential business leaders was telling a very different story. At a press luncheon to promote tomorrow’s Marco Polo Day festivities, Justin Yu, often referred to as the “Mayor of Chinatown” insisted Bloomberg’s support in Chinatown is still strong. Yu, a Bloomberg backer (his daughter works for the mayor), is president of the influential Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. Over pasta, and calamari, Yu acknowledged that the mayor’s controversial extension of term limits has angered some people. But he asserted that Bloomberg’s Democratic adversary, Bill Thompson, is not a threat.
Another Justin Yu ally, Councilmember Alan Gerson, was defeated in last month’s Democratic Primary. Margaret Chin successfully tapped into voter discontent in Chinatown, and elsewhere in District 1, to beat him. It remains to be seen if that anti-incumbent sentiment is transferable to Michael Bloomberg.