By Julian Brash
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Extra resources for Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City
Indeed, Nutter is just one of a series of mayors emerging from and appealing to the pmc, who were elected in the face of opposition from well-entrenched political machines. Other examples include Gavin Newsom in San Francisco and Cory Booker in Newark. Given this, it seems likely that self-conscious and coherent political action on the part of pmc members either has emerged elsewhere and has not been documented or will emerge in the future. Putting all this together, it seems there are good empirical and theoretical reasons to believe that contemporary neoliberal cities have been and will continue to be constitutive sites of both tcc and pmc class formation.
But critical urbanists have constructed a counternarrative of this period, which argues that the fiscal crisis of the 1970s provided an opportunity for elites to impose a regime of business-friendliness and austerity in the city. In the decades since, this neoliberal turn has resulted in a number of negative consequences: growing inequality and poverty; a drastic increase in the cost of living, particularly of housing; the loss of dignity, freedom, and occasionally life resulting from the aggressive police tactics ostensibly necessary to maintain order; and the demise of New York as a paradigm of urban grittiness and cultural ferment, symbolized by everything from the sanitization of Times Square to the shuttering of that famous 1970s incubator of punk and new wave, cbgb.
This rootedness in local context bolstered neoliberalization but also imbued it with certain contradictions and weaknesses that prevented it from achieving the necessary coherence and comprehensiveness to succeed on its own terms — to achieve fiscal health, social stability, and sustained economic and job growth. So, while the post–fiscal crisis era did see the enrichment of a small, if highly visible, slice of the city’s citizenry, the record of post–fiscal crisis governance in New York prior to Bloomberg’s election had been one of recurring fiscal problems, periodic social unrest, and generally lackluster economic growth (Brash 2004; Malanga 2005; Sites 2003, 46–66).