Michael Bloomberg


Michael Bloomberg
Michael R. Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg in 2007
108th Mayor of New York City
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 1, 2002
Preceded by Rudy Giuliani
Personal details
Born Michael Rubens Bloomberg
February 14, 1942 (1942-02-14) (age 69)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party (until 2001)
Republican Party (2001–2007)
Independent (2007–present)
Domestic partner Diana Taylor
Residence Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Johns Hopkins University (BS)
Harvard University (MBA)
Occupation Entrepreneur, philanthropist, mayor
Religion Reform Judaism[1]
Net worth increase US$19.5 billion (2011)[2]
Signature
Website Official NYC Mayoral website
MikeBloomberg.com

Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born February 14, 1942) is the Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States.[2] He is the founder and 88% owner of Bloomberg L.P., a financial news and information services media company.[3][4][5]

A lifelong Democrat before seeking elective office, Bloomberg switched his registration in 2001 and ran for mayor as a Republican, winning the election that year and a second term in 2005. Bloomberg left the Republican Party over policy and philosophical disagreements with national party leadership in 2007 and ran for his third term in 2009 as an independent candidate on the Republican ballot line. He was frequently mentioned as a possible independent candidate for the 2008 presidential election, which fueled further speculation when he left the Republican Party.[6] There was also speculation that he would run as a vice-presidential candidate.[7] Bloomberg did not, however, seek the presidency nor was he selected as a running mate by any of the presidential candidates.

In the fall of 2008, Bloomberg successfully campaigned for an amendment to New York City's term-limits law, in order to allow him to run for a third term in 2009. Bloomberg won the election on November 3, 2009.[8]

Contents

Early life

He was born at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston on February 14, 1942.[9] His father, William Henry Bloomberg (1906–1963), was a real estate agent, and the son of Alexander "Elick" Bloomberg, a Jewish immigrant. His mother, Charlotte Rubens Bloomberg, was born on January 2, 1909, in New Jersey, the daughter of a Jewish-Russian immigrant and a New Jersey–born mother. She died, aged 102, on June 19, 2011.[10]

The family lived in Allston, Massachusetts, until Michael Bloomberg was two years old; they then moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, for the next two years, finally settling in Medford, a Boston suburb, where he lived until after he graduated from college.

Bloomberg attended Johns Hopkins University, where he joined Phi Kappa Psi, worked as a parking lot attendant to pay his tuition, and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.[11] Later he received his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.[12]

Business career

In 1973, Bloomberg became a general partner at Salomon Brothers, a bulge-bracket, Wall Street investment bank, where he headed equity trading, and later, systems development. In 1981, Salomon Brothers was bought, and Bloomberg was fired from the investment bank and given a $10 million severance package.[13] Using this money, Bloomberg went on to set up a company named Innovative Market Systems. His business plan was based on the realization that Wall street (and the financial community generally) was willing to pay for high quality business information delivered as quickly as possible and in as many usable forms as technically possible (such as graphs of highly specific trends).[14]

In 1982, Merrill Lynch became the new company's first customer, installing 22 of the company's Market Master terminals and investing $30 million in the company. The company was renamed Bloomberg L.P. in 1986. By 1987, it had installed 5,000 terminals. Within a few years, ancillary products including Bloomberg Tradebook (a trading platform), the Bloomberg Messaging Service, and the Bloomberg newswire were launched. As of 2009, the company had more than 250,000 terminals worldwide. His company also has a radio network which currently has its flagship station as 1130 WBBR-AM in New York City. He left the position of CEO to pursue a political career as the mayor of New York. Bloomberg was replaced as CEO by Lex Fenwick. The company is now led by president Daniel Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor under Bloomberg.

As the mayor of New York, Bloomberg declines to receive a city salary, accepting remuneration of $1.00 annually for his services. He maintains a public listing in the New York City phone directory, residing not in Gracie Mansion – the official mayor's mansion – but instead at his own home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, at 17 East 79th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. He owns additional homes in London, Bermuda and Vail.[15]

Bloomberg says that he frequently rides the New York City Subway, particularly in the commute from his 79th Street home to his office at City Hall. However, an August 2007 story in The New York Times asserted that he was often seen chauffeured by two New York Police Department-owned SUVs to an express train station to avoid having to change from the local to the express trains on the Lexington Avenue line.[16]

Bloomberg wrote an autobiography, with help from a ghost writer, called Bloomberg by Bloomberg (1997, ISBN 0-471-15545-4).

Wealth

In March 2009, Forbes reported Michael Bloomberg's wealth at $16 billion, a gain of $4.5 billion over the previous year, enjoying the world's biggest increase in wealth in 2009.[17] At that time, there were only four fortunes in the U.S. that were larger (although the Wal-Mart family fortune is split among four people). He moved from 142nd to 17th in the Forbes list of the world's billionaires in only two years (March 2007 – March 2009).[18][19] In March 2011, his total wealth had increased to $19.5 billion, ranking 12th in the Forbes 400 and 30th in the world.[2]

Philanthropy

Bloomberg's personal net worth, in addition to aiding his political career, has allowed him to engage in substantial philanthropic endeavors, including the donation of over $300 million to Johns Hopkins University,[20] where he served as the chairman of the board from 1996 to 2002.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Bloomberg, through his Bloomberg Family Foundation, donated and/or pledged $138 million in 2004, $144 million in 2005, $165 million in 2006, and $205 million in 2007, making him the seventh-largest individual contributor to philanthropy in the U.S. for 2007.[21] 2006 recipients include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; World Lung Foundation and the World Health Organization. In 2008, Bloomberg's website announced a combined donation of $500 million with Bill Gates to help governments in developing countries with tobacco control.[22]

According to The New York Times,[23] Bloomberg has been an “anonymous donor” to the Carnegie Corporation each year for the last several years, with gifts ranging from $5 to $20 million. The Carnegie Corporation has distributed this contribution to hundreds of New York City organizations[24] ranging from the Dance Theatre of Harlem to Gilda's Club, a non-profit organization that provides support to people and families living with cancer.

In 1996, Bloomberg endowed the William Henry Bloomberg Professorship at Harvard with a $3 million gift in honor of his father, who died in 1963, saying, "throughout his life, he recognized the importance of reaching out to the nonprofit sector to help better the welfare of the entire community."[25] Bloomberg also endowed his hometown synagogue, Temple Shalom, which was renamed for his parents as the William and Charlotte Bloomberg Jewish Community Center of Medford.[1][26]

Bloomberg reports giving $254 million in 2009 to almost 1,400 nonprofit organizations, saying, "I am a big believer in giving it all away and have always said that the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker."[27]

On July 21, 2011, Bloomberg announced that he would donate $50 million to Sierra Club's “Beyond Coal” campaign, the grassroots organization’s efforts to close older coal plants and prevent new ones from being built. The gift, spread out over four years, will come from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Awards and honors

At the 2007 commencement exercises for Tufts University, Bloomberg delivered the commencement address. He was awarded an honorary degree in Public Service from the university. Likewise, Bloomberg delivered the 2007 commencement address at Bard College, where he was also awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.[28] In February 2003, he received the "Award for Distinguished Leadership in Global Capital Markets" from the Yale School of Management. Bloomberg was named the 39th most influential person in the world in the 2007 Time 100.[29] In September 2007, Vanity Fair ranked him #9 in its "Vanity Fair 100: The 2007 New Establishment."[30]

In May 2008, Bloomberg was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Pennsylvania, where he delivered the commencement speech to the class of 2008.[31] Bloomberg also delivered the commencement address to the class of 2008 at Barnard College, located in New York City, after receiving the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the College's highest honor.[32]

It was announced on January 14, 2011, that Bloomberg had been selected as the speaker for Princeton University's 2011 baccalaureate service.[33]

Bloomberg was also awarded a tribute award at the 2007 Gotham Awards, a New York-based celebrator of independent film. On November 19, 2008, Bloomberg received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York." Additionally, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at Fordham University's 2009 commencement ceremonies.[34]

In 2009, Bloomberg received a Healthy Communities Leadership Award from Leadership for Healthy Communities – a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program – for his policies and programs that increase access to healthful foods and physical activity options in the city.[35] For instance, to increase access to grocery stores in underserved areas, the Bloomberg administration developed a program called FRESH that offers zoning and financial incentives to developers, grocery store operators and land owners.[36] His administration also created a Healthy Bodega initiative, which provides healthful food samples and promotional support to grocers in lower-income areas to encourage them to carry one-percent milk and fruits and vegetables.[37] Under Bloomberg's leadership, the city also: passed a Green Carts bill,[38] which supports mobile produce vendors in lower-income areas; expanded farmers' markets using the city's Health Bucks program which provides coupons to eligible individuals to buy produce at farmers' markets in lower-income areas;[39] and committed $111 million in capital funding for playground improvements.[40] New York also was one of the first cities in the nation to help patrons make more informed decisions about their food choices by requiring fast-food and chain restaurants to label their menus with calorie information.[41]

Harassment controversies

Bloomberg has previously been accused of sexually harassing women under his employment, which he has denied.[42][43] In 1997, a former Bloomberg L.P. employee who became pregnant while employed filed a lawsuit accusing Bloomberg of saying "Kill it!" and "great, No. 16", which may have been a reference to the number of pregnant women in the company.[42] In December 2008, Conde Nast Portfolio published a story – "Mayor Bloomberg's Delicate Condition" – which reported that in September 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class-action lawsuit against Bloomberg's company on behalf of three women who worked on the business side, plus a group of women who worked at Bloomberg's company between 2002 and the present. The article said the plaintiffs "now total 72, out of about 500 women who took maternity leave during that time, a high percentage, according to the agency".[44]

Elections

2001 election

In 2001, the incumbent mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, was ineligible for re-election, as the city limited the mayoralty to two consecutive terms. Several well-known New York City politicians aspired to succeed him. Bloomberg, a lifelong member of the Democratic Party, decided to run for mayor as a member of the Republican Party ticket.

Voting in the primary began on the morning of September 11, 2001. The primary was postponed later that day. In the rescheduled primary, Bloomberg defeated Herman Badillo, a former Congressman, to become the Republican nominee. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary did not produce a first-round winner. After a runoff, the Democratic nomination went to New York City Public Advocate Mark J. Green.

In the general election, Bloomberg received Giuliani's endorsement. He also had a huge spending advantage. Although New York City's campaign finance law restricts the amount of contributions which a candidate can accept, Bloomberg chose not to use public campaign funds and therefore his campaign was not subject to these restrictions. He spent $73 million of his own money on his campaign, outspending Green by five to one.[45] One of the major themes of his campaign was that, with the city's economy suffering from the effects of the World Trade Center attacks, it needed a mayor with business experience.

In addition to serving as the Republican nominee, Bloomberg had the ballot line of the controversial Independence Party, in which "Social Therapy" leaders Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani exert strong influence. Some say that endorsement was important, as Bloomberg's votes on that line exceeded his margin of victory over Green. (Under New York's fusion rules, a candidate can run on more than one party's line and combine all the votes received on all lines. Green, the Democrat, also had the ballot line of the Working Families Party. He also created an independent line called Students First whose votes were combined with those on the Independence line). Another factor was the vote in Staten Island, which has traditionally been far friendlier to Republicans than the rest of the city. Bloomberg handily beat Green in that borough, taking 75 percent of the vote there. Overall, Bloomberg won 50 percent to 48 percent.

Bloomberg's election marked the first time in New York City history that two different Republicans had been elected mayor consecutively. New York City has not been won by a Republican in a presidential election since Calvin Coolidge won in 1924. Bloomberg is considered a social liberal, who is pro-choice, in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and an advocate for stricter gun control laws.

Despite the fact that 68 percent of New York City's registered voters are Democrats, Bloomberg decided the city should host the 2004 Republican National Convention. The Convention drew thousands of protesters, many of them local residents angry over the Iraq war and other issues. The Police Department arrested approximately 1,800 protesters, but according to The New York Times, more than 90 percent of the cases were later dismissed or dropped for lack of evidence.

2005 election

Bloomberg was re-elected mayor in November 2005 by a margin of 20 percent, the widest margin ever for a Republican mayor of New York.[46]

Bloomberg spent over $1 million on his campaign by late October 2005 and was projected to exceed the record of $74 million he spent on the previous election. In late 2004 or early 2005, Bloomberg gave the Independence Party of New York $250,000 to fund a phone bank seeking to recruit volunteers for his re-election campaign.[47]

Bloomberg visiting with Grand Rabbi Moshe Leib Rabinovich of the Munkacs Hasidic sect in Brooklyn, 2004

Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer won the Democratic nomination to oppose Bloomberg in the general election. Thomas Ognibene sought to run against Bloomberg in the Republican Party's primary election.[48] Bloomberg's campaign successfully challenged enough of the signatures Ognibene had submitted to the Board of Elections to prevent Ognibene from appearing on ballots for the Republican primary.[48] Instead, Ognibene ran only on the Conservative Party ticket.[49] Ognibene accused Bloomberg of betraying Republican Party ideals, a feeling echoed by others.[50][51][52][53][54]

Bloomberg opposed the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States.[55] Though a Republican at the time, Bloomberg is a staunch supporter of abortion rights and did not believe that Roberts was committed to maintaining Roe v. Wade.[55]

In addition to receiving Republican support, Bloomberg obtained the endorsements of several prominent Democrats: former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch; former Democratic governor Hugh Carey; former Democratic City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, and his son, Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.; former Democratic Congressman Floyd Flake (who had previously endorsed Bloomberg in 2001), and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.[56]

2009 election

On October 2, 2008, Bloomberg announced that he would seek to extend the city's term limits law and run for a third mayoral term in 2009, arguing that a leader of his field is needed during the Wall Street financial crisis. "Handling this financial crisis while strengthening essential services ... is a challenge I want to take on," Bloomberg told at a news conference. "So should the City Council vote to amend term limits, I plan to ask New Yorkers to look at my record of independent leadership and then decide if I have earned another term".[57] On October 23, 2008, the City Council voted 29–22 in favor of extending the term limit to three consecutive four-year terms, thus allowing Bloomberg to run for office again.[58] After two days of public hearings, Bloomberg signed the bill into law on November 3.[59]

Bloomberg's opponent was Democratic and Working Families Party nominee Bill Thompson, who had been New York City Comptroller for the past eight years and before that President of the New York City Board of Education.[60] Bloomberg defeated Thompson by a vote of 50.6 percent to 46.0 percent.[61]

After the release of Independence Party campaign filings in January 2010, it was reported that Bloomberg had made two $600,000 contributions from his personal account to the Independence Party on October 30 and November 2, 2009.[62] The Independence Party then paid $750,000 of that money to Republican Party political operative John Haggerty Jr.[63]

This prompted to an investigation beginning in February 2010 by the office of New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. into possible improprieties.[64] The Independence Party later questioned how Haggerty spent the money, which was to go to poll-watchers.[65] Former New York State Senator Martin Connor contended that because the Bloomberg donations were made to an Independence Party housekeeping account rather than to an account meant for current campaigns, this was a violation of campaign finance laws.[66] Haggerty also spent money from a separate $200,000 donation from Bloomberg on office space.[67]

Mayoralty

Bloomberg attending the opening night of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival

Bloomberg assumed office as the 108th Mayor of New York City on January 1, 2002. He won re-election in 2005. As mayor, Bloomberg initially struggled to gain high approval levels from the public; however, he subsequently developed and maintained high approval ratings.

Bloomberg's re-election means the Republicans have won the previous four mayoral elections (although Bloomberg's decision to leave the Republican Party and be declared an independent on June 19, 2007, resulted in the Republican Party's losing the mayor's seat prior to the expiration of his second term). Bloomberg joins Rudy Giuliani and Fiorello La Guardia as re-elected Republican mayors in this mostly Democratic city. (John Lindsay was also elected mayor of New York twice while a registered Republican; however, Lindsay did not receive the Republican Party nomination during his 1969 campaign for re-election but ran successfully on the Liberal ticket and joined the Democratic Party during his second term.)

Bloomberg has said that he wants public education reform to be the legacy of his first term and addressing poverty to be the legacy of his second.[68] Some have alleged that he made certain decisions regarding the closure of seventeen day-care centers across the city for political reasons.[69] According to the National Assessment of Educational Performance, fourth-grade reading scores from 2002 through 2009 rose nationally by 11 points. However, on May 10, 2010, The New York Times reported:

"According to the test [NAEP], New York City eighth graders have shown no significant improvement [in math or reading] since they began taking it in 2003, mirroring the largely flat performance of American eighth graders as a whole during that period. In the city, the lack of improvement held true across ethnic groups and also among lower-income students."

The annual New York City Department of Education Budget noted that spending for education was $12.5 billion in 2002 and $21 billion in 2009.[citation needed]

Bloomberg has chosen to apply a statistical, results-based approach to city management, appointing city commissioners based on their expertise and granting them wide autonomy in their decision-making. Breaking with 190 years of tradition, he implemented what New York Times political reporter Adam Nagourney called a "bullpen" open office plan, similar to a Wall Street trading floor, in which dozens of aides and managerial staff are seated together in a large chamber. The design is intended to promote accountability and accessibility.[70] Some have seen this approach to the New York education system as largely unsuccessful because of skewed numbers from schools cooking their books misleading methodology to data collection. Under the reformed approach, a school must do better than the previous year to receive funding. Because of this requirement, many successful schools were closed for being "unsuccessful" because of their inability to raise test scores, even though they were the top performing schools, while many unsuccessful schools received the bulk of funding for simply raising their scores slightly.Ravich, Diane (2010). The Death and Life of The Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-01491-0. 

Political stands

Some of the policies Bloomberg advocates parallel those of either the Democratic or the Republican party platform. He is socially liberal, supporting abortion rights, gay marriage, gun control, and amnesty for illegal immigrants, for example. On economics, foreign, and domestic issues, Bloomberg tends to be conservative. He opposes a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, and criticizes those who favor one. Economically, he supports government involvement in issues such as public welfare and climate change, while being strongly in favor of free trade, pro-business, and describing himself as a fiscal conservative because he balanced the city's budget.[71] Mayor Bloomberg has been cited for not allowing many emergency officials at the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks to attend the tenth anniversary observation of this day.[72] He also is at odds with many around the United States for not allowing prayer at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. [73]

Social issues

Bloomberg supports abortion rights, stating: "Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right and we can never take it for granted. On this issue, you're either with us or against us." He has criticized pro-choice politicians who support pro-life candidates.[74]

Bloomberg supports governmental funding for embryonic stem cell research, calling the Republican position on the issue "insanity".[75] He also supports same-sex marriage with the rationale that "I think anybody should be allowed to marry anybody."[76]

Bloomberg supports the strict drug laws of New York City. He has stated that he smoked marijuana in the past, and was quoted in a 2001 interview as saying "You bet I did. I enjoyed it." This led to a reported $500,000 advertising campaign by NORML, featuring his image and the quote. Bloomberg stated in a 2002 interview that he regrets the remark and does not believe that marijuana should be decriminalized.[77]

On November 15, 2011, some Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zucotti Park were arrested after Bloomberg ordered sanitation crews to go in and clean up the park. Protesters were told they could return after the park was clean, but without sleeping bags, tents, or tarps.[78]

Domestic issues

On crime, Bloomberg opposes the death penalty, stating, "I'd rather lock somebody up and throw away the key and put them in hard labor, the ultimate penalty that the law will allow, but I'm opposed to the death penalty."[79] As mayor he increased the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession of a loaded handgun. In regard to the change, Bloomberg commented, "Illegal guns don't belong on our streets and we're sending that message loud and clear. We're determined to see that gun dealers who break the law are held accountable, and that criminals who carry illegal loaded guns serve serious time behind bars."[79]

Bloomberg replaced the school board set up by the state with direct mayoral control over public education.[citation needed] He raised the salaries of teachers by fifteen percent[citation needed] while the test scores of students in the city and the graduation rate rose as well.[citation needed] He is opposed to social promotion, i.e. the promotion of students to the next grade level for strictly social reasons, stating that students should be promoted only when they are adequately prepared for the next grade level.[citation needed] He favors after-school programs to help students who are behind.[citation needed] As mayor, Bloomberg strengthened the cell-phone ban in schools.[80]

In dealing with global warming and New York's role in it, he has enacted a plan called PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York to fight global warming, protect the environment and prepare New York for the projected 1 million more people expected to be living in the city by the year 2030.[81] Bloomberg has been involved in motivating other cities to make changes, delivering the keynote address at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit and stating, "[W]e now know beyond a doubt that global warming is a reality. And the question we must all answer is, what are we going to do about it?" Bloomberg also talked about how he would go about fighting climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, using cleaner and more efficient fuels, and encouraging public transportation.[82] His ideas have occasionally suffered setbacks, such as the New York State Assembly's rejection of his idea for applying congestion pricing below 60th Street in Manhattan.

On issues of domestic and homeland security, Bloomberg has attacked social conservatives on immigration, calling their stance unrealistic, "We're not going to deport 12 million people, so let's stop this fiction. Let's give them permanent status."[83] He supports a federal ID database that uses DNA and fingerprint technology to keep track of all citizens and to verify their legal status.[84] Bloomberg has held that illegal immigrants should be offered legalization and supported the congressional efforts of John McCain and the late Ted Kennedy in their attempt at immigration reform in 2007.[citation needed] Regarding border security, he compared it to the tide, stating, "It's as if we expect border control agents to do what a century of communism could not: defeat the natural market forces of supply and demand... and defeat the natural human desire for freedom and opportunity. You might as well as sit in your beach chair and tell the tide not to come in. As long as America remains a nation dedicated to the proposition that 'all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness', people from near and far will continue to seek entry into our country."[85] In 2006, Bloomberg stated on his weekly WABC radio show that illegal immigration does not strain the financial resources of New York City, since many immigrants are hard working and "do not avail themselves of services until their situation is dire".[86]

Bloomberg believes that the September 11, 2001 attacks were not intended to be solitary events.[citation needed] When he assumed office, he set up a Counterterrorism Bureau which works along with the NYPD intelligence division to gather information about terrorism affecting New York worldwide.[citation needed] He believes that funding for Homeland Security by the federal government should be distributed by risk, where cities that are considered to have the highest threat for a terrorist attack would get the most money.[87] Bloomberg is also a supporter of the USA PATRIOT Act.[88]

Economic issues

Michael Bloomberg characterizes himself as a fiscal conservative for turning the city's $6 billion deficit into a $3 billion surplus; however, conservative PAC Club for Growth has criticized him because he increased property taxes and spending while doing so.

Being a fiscal conservative is not about slashing programs that help the poor, or improve health care, or ensure a social safety net. It's about insisting services are provided efficiently, get to only the people that need them, and achieve the desired results. Fiscal conservatives have hearts too — but we also insist on using our brains, and that means demanding results and holding government accountable for producing them.
To me, fiscal conservatism means balancing budgets — not running deficits that the next generation can't afford. It means improving the efficiency of delivering services by finding innovative ways to do more with less. It means cutting taxes when possible and prudent to do so, raising them overall only when necessary to balance the budget, and only in combination with spending cuts. It means when you run a surplus, you save it; you don't squander it. And most importantly, being a fiscal conservative means preparing for the inevitable economic downturns — and by all indications, we've got one coming.
—Michael Bloomberg, speech to UK Conservative Party, September 30, 2007[71]

Bloomberg has expressed a distaste of taxes, stating, "Taxes are not good things, but if you want services, somebody's got to pay for them, so they're a necessary evil."[89] As mayor, he did raise property taxes to fund budget projects; however, in January 2007 he proposed cuts in property taxes by five percent and cuts in sales taxes, including the elimination of taxes on clothing and footwear. Bloomberg pointed to the Wall Street profits and the real estate market as evidence that the city's economy is booming and could handle a tax break.[90]

Bloomberg's self-described fiscal conservatism also led him to eliminate the existing $6-billion deficit when he assumed office. Bloomberg balanced the budget of New York City by raising property taxes and making cuts to city agencies, excluding the police and fire departments.[91]

Bloomberg is in favor of providing tax breaks to big corporations for the good of the whole community. As mayor, Bloomberg lobbied the CEO of Goldman Sachs to establish its headquarters across from Ground Zero by promising $1.65 billion in tax breaks. Regarding this deal, Bloomberg stated, "This [New York City] is where the best want to live and work. So I told him [CEO of Goldman Sachs], 'We can help with minimizing taxes. Minimizing your rent. Improving security. But in the end, this is about people.'"[92]

Bloomberg has had a less cordial relationship with unions as mayor. In 2002, when New York City's transit workers threatened to strike, Bloomberg responded by riding a mountain bike through the city to show how the city could deal with the transit strike by finding alternate means of transportation and not pandering to the unions.[93] Three years later, a clash between Bloomberg and the New York City Transit Authority over wages and union benefits led to a full blown strike that lasted three days. Negotiations led to the end of the strike in December 2005, but controversy exists over Bloomberg's handling of the situation.[citation needed]

Bloomberg is a staunch advocate of free trade and is strongly opposed to protectionism, stating, "The things that we have to worry about is this protectionist movement that has reared its head again in this country...." He worries about the growth of China and fears the lessening gap between the United States and other countries: "The rest of the world is catching up, and, there are people that say, surpassing us. I hope they are wrong. I hope those who think we are still in good shape are right. But nevertheless, the time to address these issues is right now."[94]

Bloomberg has placed a strong emphasis on public health and welfare, adopting many liberal policies. As the mayor he made HIV, diabetes, and hypertension all top priorities. He extended the city's smoking ban to all commercial establishments and implemented a trans fat ban in restaurants.[95] Mayor Bloomberg has been a strong supporter of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation – the largest urban healthcare agency in the United States – serving over 1.3 million New Yorkers, and has touted its use of information technology and Electronic Health Records to increase efficiency and enhance patient care.[96] He launched a program called Opportunity NYC which is the nation's first-ever conditional cash transfer pilot program designed to help New Yorkers break the cycle of poverty in the city. He instituted a $7.5 billion municipal affordable housing plan, the largest in the nation, that is supposed to provide 500,000 New Yorkers with housing.[97]

Bloomberg has expressed concern about poverty and growing class divisions stating, "This society cannot go forward, the way we have been going forward, where the gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing."[94]

Foreign policy

As mayor, Bloomberg made trips to Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Israel in the first four months of 2007.[98] In late 2007 he conducted an Asia trip that brought him to China, where he called for greater freedom of information to promote innovation. He attended the United Nations Climate Conference in Bali.

President of the United States George W. Bush meeting with Bloomberg

Initially, Bloomberg strongly supported the war in Iraq and the rationale for going in. He stated, "Don't forget that the war started not very many blocks from here"[citation needed] alluding to Ground Zero. In regard to the global War on Terrorism including Iraq he said, "It's not only to protect Americans. It's America's responsibility to protect people around the world who want to be free."[citation needed] During the 2004 presidential election campaign, New York City hosted the Republican National Convention at which Bloomberg endorsed President George W. Bush for President of the United States.[99]

His enthusiasm seemed to have lessened somewhat over the course of the war. In August 2005 he said, "I think everybody has very mixed emotions about the war that was started to find weapons of mass destruction and then they were not found."[100] Bloomberg expressed criticism of Democrats in Congress who wanted to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq calling them, "irresponsible".[101]

Preservation and development issues

Bloomberg delivering a speech.

Mayor Bloomberg is a proponent of large-scale development. He has repeatedly come down in favor of projects such as the Atlantic Yards mega-development, the Hudson Yards redevelopment, and the Harlem rezoning proposal.[102] This support has led to a negative response from the preservationist community.[citation needed] On smaller-scale issues, Bloomberg usually takes the side of development as well. He favors the demolition of Admiral's Row[103] in order to build a supermarket parking lot. However, Bloomberg has occasionally come down on the side of preservation, most notably in vetoing landmark revocation for the Austin Nichols warehouse.[104] This move was widely applauded by architectural historians. The City Council overruled the veto shortly thereafter, however.[citation needed]

2008 presidential campaign speculation

On February 27, 2008, Bloomberg announced that he would not run for president in 2008, and that he would endorse a candidate who takes an independent and non-partisan approach.[105] He had also stated unequivocally, live on the Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve TV show, December 31, 2007, that he was not going to run for president in 2008.[106] Despite prior public statements by Bloomberg denying plans for a presidential run,[107] many pundits believed Bloomberg would announce a campaign at a later date. On January 7, 2008, he met at the University of Oklahoma with a bipartisan group, including (now former) Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, both of whom had been frequently mentioned as possible running mates – to pressure the major party candidates to promote national unity and reduce partisan gridlock. Speculation that Bloomberg would choose this forum to announce his candidacy proved to be unfounded.[108][109] Other purported signs that he planned to run included:

In summer 2006, he met with Al From of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group, to talk about the logistics of a possible run.[110] After a conversation with Bloomberg, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska suggested that he and Bloomberg could run on a shared independent ticket for the presidency.[111]

On This Week on June 10, 2007, anchor George Stephanopoulos included panelist Jay Carney, who mentioned a conversation between Bloomberg and top staffers where he heard Bloomberg ask approximately how much a presidential campaign would cost. Carney said that one staffer replied, "Around $500 million." According to a Washington Post article, a $500 million budget would allow Bloomberg to circumvent many of the common obstacles faced by third party candidates seeking the White House.[112] On June 19, 2007, Bloomberg left the Republican Party, filing as an independent after a speech criticizing the current political climate in Washington.[113][114] On August 9, 2007, in an interview with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather that aired on August 21, Bloomberg categorically stated that he was not running for President, that he would not be running, and that there were no circumstances in which he would, saying, "If somebody asks me where I stand, I tell them. And that's not a way to get elected, generally. Nobody's going to elect me president of the United States. What I'd like to do is to be able to influence the dialogue. I'm a citizen."[115]

Despite continued denials, a possible Bloomberg candidacy continues to be the subject of media attention, including a November Newsweek cover story.[116] During a private reception in December 2007, Bloomberg conducted a version of bingo in which guests were to guess the meaning of the numbers on a printed card. When Bloomberg asked the significance of 271, one guest answered correctly: the number of electoral votes received by George W. Bush in 2000.[117] In January 2008, CNN reported that a source close to Bloomberg said that the mayor had launched a research effort to assess his chances of winning a potential presidential bid. According to the report, the unidentified source also stated that Bloomberg had set early March as a timetable for making a decision as to whether or not to run.[118] On January 16, 2008, it was reported that Bloomberg's business interests were placed in "a sort of blind trust" because of his possible run for the presidency. His interests were put under the management of Quadrangle Group, co-founded by reported Bloomberg friend Steven Rattner, though Bloomberg would "continue to have control of and access to certain investment decisions".[119]

On January 18, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Bloomberg had a meeting in Austin, Texas, with Clay Mulford, a ballot-access expert and campaign manager for Ross Perot's third party presidential campaigns. Bloomberg denied that the meeting concerned a possible presidential campaign by him, stating "I'm not a candidate — it couldn't be clearer. Which of the words do you not understand?"[105] On February 28, 2008, Bloomberg stated "I am not – and will not be – a candidate for president." He added that he is "hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.[105]

At the same time that the presidential run was being considered, there was also some speculation that Bloomberg could be a candidate for the vice presidency in 2008. In a blog posting of June 21, 2007, The Politico's Ben Smith asked the question of whether a vice-presidential candidate can self-finance an entire presidential ticket.[120] Many believed that Bloomberg would in fact be legally permitted to self-finance a campaign as the vice-presidential candidate.

Adding more fuel to the speculation that Bloomberg might consider a VP slot were a series of meetings he had in mid-August 2007 with former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn and later with Barack Obama on November 30, 2007.[121] A May 17, 2008, breakfast meeting with John McCain led to speculation that Bloomberg might be on McCain's short list of possible VP candidates.[122]

Rumored gubernatorial campaign

On November 6, 2007, the New York Post detailed efforts by New York Republicans to recruit Bloomberg to oppose then-incumbent Governor Eliot Spitzer in the 2010 election. Early polls indicated Bloomberg would defeat Spitzer in a landslide. (The potential 2010 match-up became moot when Spitzer resigned on March 17, 2008.)[123] A March 20, 2008, poll of New York State voters had the Mayor topping newly ascended Governor David Paterson and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the 2010 gubernatorial election.[124] Bloomberg denied plans to run for the governorship in 2010, and did not seek the nomination.[125]

2012 presidential campaign speculation

In March 2010, Bloomberg's top political strategist Kevin Sheekey resigned from his mayoral advisory position and returned to Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg's company. It is speculated that the move will allow Sheekey to begin preliminary efforts for a Bloomberg presidential campaign in the 2012 election. An individual close to Bloomberg said, "the idea of continuing onward is not far from his [Bloomberg's] mind".[126]

In October 2010, The Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg – which had attempted to recruit Bloomberg to run for the presidency in 2008 – announced it was relaunching its effort to persuade Bloomberg to wage a presidential campaign in 2012.[127][128] The committee members insisted that they would persist in the effort in spite of Bloomberg's repeated denials of interest in seeking the presidency.[128][129]

While on the December 12, 2010, episode of Meet the Press, Bloomberg ruled out a run for the Presidency in 2012, stating: "I'm not going to run for president," further adding "I'm not looking at the possibility of running, (...) no way, no how."[130]

On July 24, 2011, in the midst of Democrats' and Republicans' inability to agree on a budget plan and thus an increase in the federal debt limit, the Washington Post published a blog posting about groups organizing third party approaches. It focused on Michael Bloomberg as the best hope for a serious third party Presidential Candidate in 2012.

Personal life

Bloomberg married Yorkshire-born Susan Brown in 1975. Their marriage produced two daughters: Emma (b. ca. 1979) and Georgina (b. 1983), who were featured on Born Rich, a documentary film about the children of the extremely wealthy. Bloomberg divorced Brown and is currently living with former New York state banking superintendent Diana Taylor.[131][132][133]

His younger sister, Marjorie Tiven, has been Commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol, since February 2002.[134]

See also

References

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Further reading

  • Brash, Julian. Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City (University of Georgia Press; 2010) 344 pages. Uses anthropology and geography to examine the mayor's corporate-style governance, with particular attention to the Hudson Yards plan, which aims to transform the far West Side into a high-end district.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Rudy Giuliani
Republican nominee for Mayor of New York City
2001, 2005, 2009
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Political offices
Preceded by
Rudy Giuliani
Mayor of New York City
2002–present
Incumbent

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