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Cathie Black debacle could be lasting bruise for Bloomberg

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The departure of Schools Chancellor Cathie Black delivered another black eye to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and observers suggested that the debacle ultimately could tarnish Hizzoner’s legacy and hobble his political aspirations.

“It hurts Bloomberg nationally in the sense that it erodes the perception of him as a skilled manager,” said Ken Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College. “He’s wounded."

Black’s botched appointment, coupled with the mayor’s assailed handling of the December blizzard and unpopular push to change the law so he could run for a third term in 2009, feed into the public’s perception of him as an out-of-touch billionaire pol, observers said.

“This appointment was a monumental blunder of judgment and an arrogant abuse of his political power,” said Michael Meyers, Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition. "Once again, Mayor Bloomberg puts politics and cronyism rather than children first."

Bloomberg deflected criticism of his tenure Thursday.

“I think we’re going to do more in our third term than we did in the second term, and the second term was better than the first term,” he said at a press conference.

George Arzt, a Democratic consultant, defended Bloomberg, saying that “to be able to fire someone who you’ve invested in a great deal (showed)… a great strength.”

Bloomberg has insisted that he will not run for president in 2012, but if he were to stay in politics the Black fiasco could help sink him, pundits said.

“It’s certainly going to be brought up and it’s going to be ammunition,” said Bruce Berg, a political science professor at Fordham University.

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