It’s bad enough that Mike Bloomberg jerry-rigged a third term for himself via the hapless city council–a maneuver not even Rudy Giuliani could pull off after 9/11–and has already spent $19 million in the middle of a recession on an re-election campaign where he’s facing only nominal resistance from city comptroller Bill Thompson.

But now anybody who has the audacity to question the mayor’s decision to handicap democracy is called a "disgrace." That’s what happened to the New York Observer‘s Azi Paybarah at a press conference in Queens yesterday. Bloomberg mentioned how the New York economy was improving, which prompted Paybarah to ask Bloomberg if such a turnaround undermined his supposed rationale for running for mayor again–that only Bloomberg could handle the city’s finances during an economic calamity. Watch the response:

This is not the first time that Bloomberg has jumped on a reporter for asking a perfectly legitimate question. Quite frankly, he’s behaving more like an emperor or an autocrat than the humble public servant he claims to be.

I don’t think Bloomberg’s been a bad mayor. He’s been good on some things and poor on others. The city has, by and large, flourished on his watch. A majority of New Yorkers remain satisfied with the job he’s done. Yet the city feels a little like Singapore these days, well-run but ultimately sterile. The way Bloomberg’s been buying elections contributes to that.

During the presidential election, it seemed as if New York, more than any other place, embodied the spirit of Obama. "Obamaism" was its own kind of religion here, New York’s Kurt Andersen wrote. So it’s a little sad how, just a few months later, we’re witnessing a decline in democracy right in our own backyard.