Mike Bloomberg on Principles & Values
Mayor of New York City (Independent)
[Via Bloomberg Philanthropies], Bloomberg's giving covers five major areas--environment, public health, government innovation, the arts and education--and last year totaled $787 million, making him the nation's second-most generous philanthropist behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Through one of his biggest programs, the American Cities Initiative, Bloomberg has helped municipalities and activists grapple with everything from climate change to guns to obesity. The initiative is an outgrowth of Bloomberg's time as New York City mayor and has helped sow goodwill with mayors and former mayors throughout the country, giving him possible entr‚e to a layer of local political support that conventional candidates lack.
BLOOMBERG: I would give him an incomplete grade. The style of changing your mind every day, and the turnover in the administration is really dangerous.
Q: His compelling case was that he came from the world of business, as you did.
BLOOMBERG: No, he didn't. He was a real estate developer. He didn't manage large numbers of people, he didn't run big organizations. He was not really a business person.
Q: Do you see some management issues, then?
BLOOMBERG: Management is like skiing. You don't read a book on skiing and then go out and ski double black diamonds. Management is something you learn over a period of time and you have to manage larger and larger groups of people and make more and more difficult decisions and live with those decisions as you go. This president does not have experience in running large organizations.
Bloomberg, who is Jewish, declined to feature clergy at 9/11 commemorations and strongly defended a proposal to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero. He also supported New York Police Department surveillance of Muslim mosques and neighborhoods.
[Mayor-elect Bill] De Blasio said Bloomberg governed with a "blind spot" to faith-based groups. "I don't think the mayor really understands how crucial it is to protecting the fabric of the city," de Blasio said.
[A religion pundit noted, "the city has debated requiring pregnancy centers to post signs that they do not perform abortions. And the 'stop-and-frisk' police tactic, which some argued resulted in racial profiling, remains controversial, especially in the city's influential black churches."
I'd seen mayors come and go and Bloomberg did not fit the mold any which way. The slight, self-made billionaire was the opposite of the boisterous characters New Yorkers enjoy. He had created an improbably successful company, a financial information giant that grew from a sophisticated computer terminal he developed. Few beyond Wall Street and the City of London understood much about that or knew that Bloomberg was a generous philanthropist, but the elaborate ad campaigns he could bankroll would fill in the blanks. Recognition wasn't the problem.
He was not a great athlete. He was not a great student. But he was willful, serious and competitive in his own way, reaching the lofty rank of Eagle Scout even before he was old enough to qualify, planning his escape from his drab suburban town as soon as possible, confident in his self- assigned role as a contrarian who followed his own agenda.
If there was one trait that stood out in Mike's childhood foreshadowing the adult he would become, it was his stubborn insistence on taking charge.
Life in the Bloomberg home was Norman Rockwell with a Jewish twist: Mrs. Bloomberg kept a kosher kitchen. Every spring the family took the blue glass dishes out of basement storage for Passover. Every night the family ate together and the kids would clean up. Mrs. Bloomberg bent the rules now and again. She kept one knife, one fork and one glass plate separate, for her rebellious son to use with the takeout Chinese food he craved when he got a little older.
When Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky was entertaining America, Bloomberg was indignant. Casual acquaintances were amazed to hear him vent angrily about the president. Clinton's behavior was not only outrageous, he would say, it was unacceptable; he should resign. Mike Bloomberg suddenly a prig? No way. He saw Clinton's offense not as immoral; it was self-indulgent, lacking self-control. Not the Bloomberg way.
And winning did not look easy. Bloomberg's chances of getting the Democratic nomination were nil; too many better known Democrats were itching to retake the city from Giuliani. The Republicans, always hungry for attention and money and a plausible candidate, would welcome a wealthy turncoat, but their label represented a serious handicap with voters who registered 5 to 1 Democratic. Only 3 non-Democrats--LaGuardia as a "Fusion" candidate and Republicans Lindsay and Giuliani--had succeeded in the last 75 years. Betting against the odds, Bloomberg quietly switched his affiliation to Republican.
He was a stranger to NY's Republican establishment, though, the professional politicians who could talk up a candidate, give him credibility at least on the inside, with the party's power brokers.
Could the rigidly private Bloomberg turn himself into a public figure? Retail campaigning was no longer central to a campaign. Television ads, radio ads and direct mailings counted for more than kissing babies or eating hot dogs. With his money, Bloomberg could build a heavily manipulated offstage identity and his minders worked hard to limit and control his public appearance.
One can only speculate how that message, delivered by an unapologetically secular Jew, would have played out in a campaign that featured the melodrama of Barack Obama's flamboyant minister.
He made political contributions--modest ones given his wealth--to mostly Democratic candidates. But participatory politics was never his thing. In fact, he wrote in his self-admiring memoir, fittingly titled "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," that when he was pondering a career change in his late 30s, "My impatience with government kept me away from politics. All elected officials could stop worrying."
In what could have been a broad hint, however, he also wrote that thought being a legislator would bore him, "If I ever ran it would be for a job in the executive branch of government--mayor, governor or president. I think I would be great in any of those 3 executive jobs that mirror my experience."
Hagel made the suggestion after sharing a meal with Bloomberg durin the mayor’s most recent visit to Washington. “It’s a great country to think about--a New York boy and a Nebraska boy to be teamed up, leading this nation,” he said.
Bloomberg has said repeatedly he will not enter the presidential race. Nevertheless, Bloomberg has fueled speculation about his ambitions with a schedule that has frequently taken him outside NY. He has also relaunched a Web site, www.mikebloomberg.com, to keep backers abreast of his governmental and philanthropic work, Bloomberg says.
Publicly, the Democrat-turned-Republican professes no interest in the top job. But Bloomberg has dropped enough hints and has had enough tantalizing discussions with potential supporters that people who observe the city’s politics for a living are
I ordered a sable jacket for my wife, Sue. While I was never embarrassed to say that I'd been fired and was now running a small start-up business, I'm tougher than many others (or, perhaps as a psychological defense mechanism, I have convinced myself not to care what others think). But I was worried that Sue might be ashamed of my new, less visible status and concerned I couldn't support the family/ A sable jacket seemed to say, "No sweat. We can still eat. We're still players."
On my last day of work, September 30, 1981, I picked up the jacket. Sue was delighted. Next morning, I started Bloomberg, the company. The rest is work in progress.
|Other big-city mayors on Principles & Values:||Mike Bloomberg on other issues:|
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)