It’s your birthday, so how do you celebrate? Maybe you gather a few close friends. Or you go out for a quiet dinner with your spouse or partner or significant other or lover or whatever term suits your situation and temperament. Or perhaps — it happens — the passage of time has you down, and you just want to be alone.
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.
Any of those choices qualifies as normal. It also strongly suggests that you are not a politician.
What some our political leaders do on their birthdays doesn’t come within miles of normal. Who but a politician would think that the best way to observe one’s birthday is to hit up people for money — to prepare for an election that won’t even be held for another three years, no less?
The latest example of this form of narcissism was on display Tuesday night at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. There, a “birthday gala” was held for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who turned 54 on Tuesday. “Birthday gala” is another way to say “fund-raiser.” Hundreds of people, no doubt all of them qualifying as Mr. Cuomo’s closest friends, paid upwards of $2,500 each to help fill the coffers of his next campaign, in 2014.
Some eyebrows arched when it was discovered that the chairmen of the tax-exempt foundation that runs the Intrepid museum, which wants to expand on state land, had encouraged fellow board members to buy tickets to the event. As my colleague Patrick McGeehan noted on Tuesday, charitable organizations like the foundation usually steer clear of a political activity like this to avoid putting their federal income tax exemption at risk.
The invitation to the birthday dinner said the purpose was to “celebrate a year of great accomplishments.” Mr. Cuomo has unquestionably had an impressive first 11 months in office.
His approval ratings in opinion polls are sky-high. He won timely passage of a belt-tightening budget, and prevailed on the Legislature to bestow the state’s blessing on same-sex marriages. On Tuesday, he and legislative leaders forged an agreement to alter New York’s income tax structure in a way that will make the very rich pay more and the middle class pay less.
Still, it’s not even a full year since he took office. His re-election campaign — not to mention any plans he may have to seek yet higher office — is far off. Some might say it’s a tad early for victory laps.
But the governor has sat at the feet of a master at converting personal milestones into occasions to rattle the cup. That would be former President Bill Clinton, in whose Cabinet Mr. Cuomo served.
Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, both perfected the routine of turning birthday celebrations into fund-raisers, raising many millions at receptions, dinners and concerts featuring the likes of the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello. Mr. Cuomo’s star attraction Tuesday night was Mary J. Blige. Just your typical birthday party.
(Frankly, the feeling here is that engaging the Stones as you turn 60 is a gamble. Do you really want to risk having Mick Jagger launch into an early hit, “Mother’s Little Helper,” with its opening line: “What a drag it is getting old”?)
Coinciding with the Cuomo fund-raiser, the city’s public school watchdog issued a report on a principal in the Bronx who was said to have misused taxpayer money in a variety of ways for her own benefit.
Among the abuses recounted by the watchdog, the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation, was a birthday party at a steakhouse that she had pressured staff members into holding for her. That has a faintly familiar ring, doesn’t it?
She is now a former principal. Just thought we’d mention it.
For more local news, including a government consensus on a new tax deal, an inquiry into police officers’ insults aimed at revelers at the annual West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn via Facebook, a public school phenomenon of replacing recess with other activities, and the ordered deportation of 72 Indonesians in New Jersey, see the N.Y./ Region section.
Here is what City Room is reading in other newspapers and blogs.
A new report shows the communities of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene to have insufficient access to high-quality fresh food. [The Local, Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
The government dropped a deportation order for an Argentinian woman in a same-sex marriage to a United States citizen, signifying a potential new chapter in the treatment of immigrants in same-sex marriages. [Huffington Post]
Defying seasonal expectations, the Manhattan real estate market has remained strong in the past month, a new report says. [The Real Deal]
The nonprofit investigative reporting site ProPublica has entered into a new business partnership with NBC. [Crain’s New York Business]
The colorful history of a Roman Catholic church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, involves many different immigrant groups. [Daily News]
A recent investigation found New Jersey’s garbage hauling industry filled with corruption. [Wall Street Journal]
A Staten Island crowd clashed with police officers, who arrested nine of them. [SI Live]
A local man made 100 prank calls over the past year and a half, the authorities said. [Reuters]
After causing much public outrage, a young boy who nearly killed a woman with a shopping cart in Harlem has written her an apology letter. [Daily News]
A new public open space may be created in Midtown Manhattan. [DNA Info]