Mayor-Elect Of N.Y. Coming Into Focus 

Mayor-Elect Of N.Y. Coming Into Focus 
Posted by FoM on December 31, 2001 at 09:47:22 PT
By Michael Powell, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post
One of the wealthiest men in the world's wealthiest city is about to become mayor -- just as the place takes a slide on the economic skids. Billionaire media mogul Michael -- "Call me Mike!" -- Bloomberg takes over from Rudolph W. Giuliani on Jan. 1. He inherits a city gone ragged around the edges. Terrorism drilled a hole in Wall Street. The budget could be $4 billion in the red by next year. Sale signs adorn chichi boutique windows. Apartment rents are falling. And hundreds of dot-coms are dot-dead.
To this rather unpromising landscape Bloomberg brings his ubiquitous surname and trademark self-confidence. He promises a free-wheeling, open-door style in City Hall and vows not to retire from the social circuit -- a divorcÚ, he jokes about playing "boy toy" for his matchmaker friends.Bloomberg, 59, spent $69 million of his personal fortune in the past year drowning his Democratic opponent, Mark Green, in a flood of commercials and direct mail. But he dodged dozens of candidate forums on issues that would face the new mayor and often declined interviews. So in his first days as mayor-elect, he seemed to many to be a high-profile enigma. There is a definite "sense of vagueness," said Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute, an influential conservative think tank. "There's very little to form a clear picture from." But Bloomberg -- who declined repeated requests for an interview for this story -- is slowly sketching in his public portrait. Although some had speculated that he would draw his top advisers from his world of business, he has instead appointed veterans of government and nonprofit organizations as deputy mayors and commissioners. And although the billionaire is careful to praise the soon-to-be-former mayor at least once before sunset each day -- Giuliani's endorsement played a key role in Bloomberg's victory -- he has drawn pointed distinctions as well.Giuliani turned his back on the Rev. Al Sharpton; Bloomberg shook his hand at a party. Giuliani threatened opponents with mayhem; Bloomberg held cordial meetings with the labor leaders who opposed him. Giuliani stomped onto every municipal stage and sucked the air out of every room. Bloomberg tends to slide in, his lips set in a sanguine half-smile."Unlike a lot of men in New York, he asks a question and actually listens to the answer," said Betsy Gotbaum, a Democrat and the public advocate-elect. "He has an ego but he's not a guy who falls into the pool looking at his own reflection."Giuliani came to office in 1993 dressed in a full ideological armor. His goal was grand: to challenge a moribund big-city liberalism. His battles, some winning and some not, were epic.Bloomberg has less interest in ideological tilts. He placed the executive director of the Manhattan Institute on his transition committee and opposes tax increases. But he also has hired academics who advised Democratic Mayor David Dinkins, and he favors a public hand in resolving issues of health care and affordable housing. His party affiliation seems little more than a flag of convenience. A pro-choice and anti-death penalty Democrat, he became a Republican shortly before declaring his candidacy; the Republicans had promised him a ballot line. (Bloomberg gave Republican Gov. George E. Pataki something of a jolt this fall when he declared himself a proud liberal at a joint campaign appearance.)"He's coming in without all the rancor and the tension" of Giuliani, said Mitchell Moss, director of New York University's Taub Urban Research Center, who advised Bloomberg. "Rudy was a great wartime general; now we need someone to lead into peace."Perhaps -- though Fred Siegel, a historian at Cooper Union who advised Giuliani early on, suggests that great mayors need a sense of grand purpose, especially in times of economic strain. "Bloomberg looks to be a carpenter where Giuliani was an architect," he said. "He didn't win with a strong vision of what this city might look like." Good Timing  Whatever the state of the city he inherits, Bloomberg's political timing was exquisite. He ran for office as the Democratic Party was in a state of collapse, its estate divided between party warlords. "The Democratic Party exists in name only," said Ed Ott, political director of the city's Central Labor Council. "No one listens to anyone."The city's demographic tectonic shift, its change from a city of white ethnics to one where Hispanics and blacks -- and someday Asians -- are ascendant, compounded the Democrats' problems. As Green, a white Jewish liberal, and Freddy Ferrer, a Puerto Rican Catholic liberal, fought their way through a primary and runoff, their constituencies divided.Bloomberg became the paradoxical beneficiary of this feud. A member in fine standing of Manhattan's silk stocking Upper East Side, he drew 50 percent of the Hispanic vote and 25 percent of the black vote.A short and dapper man, he approached his campaign carefully, a toe at a time in the water. By mid-summer, he claimed to revel in his occasional outer borough explorations, a municipal Dr. Livingston in search of votes. "Have you been to Coney Island?" he would inquire of reporters.He would walk into a bodega, spew out a jumble of Spanish nouns and verbs, and shrug. "What can I say?" he would say. "I'm a gringo."His campaign was a milk cow for campaign professionals, as he took their going rate and doubled it. His manager, David Garth, pulled in better than $1 million. His spokesman, Bill Cunningham, took in at least $350,000. Bloomberg once predicted he would spend $30 million and finished at more than double that.Bloomberg didn't always burn cash this way. He takes great pride in recounting his ride from a modest Boston suburb to Salomon Brothers to head of Bloomberg LP, a vast business and media empire. In his telling, he's a Horatio Alger, with Paul Stewart shirts, French cuffs and a taste for Chilean sea bass. He would work sweaty, frenetic six-day weeks and fall into bed happily exhausted each night. He climbed to the top of Salomon Brothers and got fired."Was I sad? You bet," he wrote in his book, "Bloomberg by Bloomberg." "But as usual I was much too macho to show it. And I did have $10 million in cash and convertible bonds as compensation for my hurt feelings." He had, by his telling, skied in every resort, eaten at every four-star restaurant and found a girlfriend in every city. (He has an ex-wife, whom he describes as his best friend, and two daughters.) Asked by New York Magazine if he ever smoked marijuana, he rejoined: "You bet I did, and I enjoyed it." There are less funny moments, such as his widely repeated quote in the New Yorker. Comparing the risks he was taking in politics with his pursuit of women, he said: "I get slapped a lot, but I get laid a lot, too."In the end, he got restless. He wrote of his conundrum in his book:"Once you've accumulated wealth, you've got a serious problem. You can only eat so many meals, have so much domestic help, travel to so many places and live in so many rooms. You can only sleep in one bed at one time." So he ran for mayor. Trappings of Wealth  Politicians get into trouble this way: They catch a trip on a corporate jet, vacation at a lobbyist's beach house, enjoy a meal on somebody's tab. Then the political bill comes due. Bloomberg won't suffer that fate. When he flew to Israel and the Dominican Republic on semiofficial visits recently, he took his own jet.When he tossed back a few with the city council and borough presidents, he invited them over to his limestone manor house on East 79th Street, which is decorated in a style suggestive of Louis XIV on hallucinogens. There are French Savonnerie carpets, velvet-covered chairs bordered with fringe, Chippendale and a George III sofa.The lobster bisque and $300 Chateau Haut-Brion, by all accounts, were splendid. A council member recalled for Newsday the mountains of caviar and other goodies: "There was a little meat in a blanket that I'd never seen before."At times, Bloomberg can seem unaware of the fishbowl he has jumped into. He insists that he should be able to take a vacation without answering to anyone. So he goes to Vail and Bermuda. And each time the tabloids find out and write about it.Other times, his political instincts seem sure, such as when he serves up the parochial soup that so warms the hearts of New Yorkers."This is New York; we really do do things better," he said during a campaign stop at Tavern on the Green. "The rest of the world is a disgrace. Really. We really do things better."The audience loved it.In the end, though, Bloomberg knows joking must yield to governing. His position papers are detailed. And more than one aide spoke of hashing out city issues around Bloomberg's kitchen table."He's constantly challenging you, asking you if you cooked the research books," said Alan Gartner, a professor at the City University of New York graduate center who advises on education issues. "He's not an easy sell, and in the end he wants to do it himself."None of this stanches the uneasy rumblings. The New York Post editorial page worries whether Bloomberg has the spine to crack down on criminals. Then there are the labor contracts, all of which expire by July. More than 100,000 New Yorkers have lost their jobs, the homeless are back, companies are moving to New Jersey. . . . Bloomberg typically gives a soft shrug. He's quite convinced he'll be quite terrific.Note: Enigmatic Bloomberg Sketches Public Persona. Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Michael Powell, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Monday, December 31, 2001; Page A03 Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: CannabisNews Justice Archives
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 04, 2002 at 12:30:48 PT
Thank You! I just noticed your comment. I hope you see that I finally responded. I'm slow at times. I've been to New York a few times and it is a fascinating city. I particularly remember walking through Greenich Village in the middle of a hot summer night and listening as we walked by to the music that was coming out of different buildings. It was really nice. I've been in most of the major places in NY but never the WTC. I haven't been to NY since 73! A long time ago!
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Comment #4 posted by CorvallisEric on January 01, 2002 at 03:09:08 PT
I want to dream that one along with you. For many years I've avoided visiting New York, even though I've been to Washington several times. Maybe I would visit just to be see what it's like even if I didn't smoke (very seldom do nowadays). Your many wonderful thoughts have gladdened my heart. Thank you.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 31, 2001 at 17:27:27 PT
Help for New York City
I have an answer for the people of New York. The horror that has happened to them is hard to comprehend but it happened and many people will be coming undone for a long time that call NYC city their home. They need to make places where people can talk and find peace with themselves and each other. I know a bar works but many people don't want to drink so if they made coffee shops legal it would help many people cope. They wouldn't need all the anxiety drugs that I'm sure many are taking. Dreaming again that's all.
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on December 31, 2001 at 17:03:04 PT
Suspect Timing
On the day of the election at about 5:00 ET(while the polls were still open), some reporter on CNN was ranting about how Green was a racist & had pissed off blacks & hispanics. At the time I was wondering about the timing of this coverage & whether the "media mogul" Bloomberg had perhaps influenced CNN to air this topic at such a critical time. I imagined undecided NYC voters eating dinner,watching CNN & getting ready to go vote. I just thought the timing was a little suspect. 
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on December 31, 2001 at 13:49:51 PT
The question they never ask!
Asked by New York Magazine if he ever smoked marijuana, he rejoined: "You bet I did, and I enjoyed it."Now here's the followup question that they never ask: As an American citizen, are you willing to take some moral responsibility for the fates of the people who grew that marijuana for you?
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