12 Years of Mayor Bloomberg
Published: December 28, 2013 96 Comments
When he walked into the mayor’s office 12 years ago, businessman and billionaire Michael Bloomberg took charge of a damaged city. The World Trade Center was a windblown construction site, barely cleared after the attacks on Sept. 11. Tourists were afraid to come to the city; residents were afraid to stay. The budget was a disaster, $3 billion to $5 billion in the red. In a modest speech at an intentionally modest inauguration, Mr. Bloomberg nevertheless pledged to rebuild and renew New York and to keep it “the capital of the free world.”
Was the departing mayor of New York City a public health innovator or a “nanny state” scold?
As he leaves office this week, Mr. Bloomberg has, in many ways, fulfilled that promise. New York is once again a thriving, appealing city where, Mr. Bloomberg boasts, more people are moving in than out. More than 54 million tourists, the most ever, crowded the streets in 2013. The crime rate is down, the transportation system is more efficient, the environment is cleaner. He leaves a $2.4 billion budget surplus, which could give the next mayor, Bill de Blasio, some flexibility in his negotiations with the unions.
Yet as Mr. de Blasio’s election showed, opportunity and prosperity have been unevenly distributed. The homeless population has grown, and for a great many others, the paychecks have been too small, the rents too high. And in perhaps his worst mistake — authorizing a police practice found unconstitutional by a federal court — Mr. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly humiliated and alienated black and Hispanic communities by having stop-and-frisk turn into a generalized method of harassing law-abiding citizens.
On the plus side, one of his underappreciated accomplishments was to make public service a valued vocation for a new group of urban experts. Despite the occasional mistake, he hired mostly top-notch professionals without political pedigrees, and challenged them to try new ideas.
With their help, he recaptured mayoral control of the schools, and with it full responsibility for their performance. He rezoned almost half the city, hoping to turn (and in some cases actually turning) industrial deserts into sites for skyscrapers or residential housing — among them Hunter’s Point South, with thousands of new affordable units, in Queens; the Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side (plus a new subway extension to get people there); and the Greenpoint-Williamsburg complex in Brooklyn.
He created a healthier city, where smokers are now taboo in many public and private spaces, where calorie counts are publicized and where trans fats are forbidden. He opened 800 acres of outdoor space, much of it along the city’s shorelines, expanded bike lanes to cover more than 600 miles and added a fleet of Citi bikes for tourists and commuters. He fought to reduce greenhouse gases, approved a balanced plan to dispose of the city’s enormous waste stream, and, after initially rejecting recycling as too costly, became a strong advocate of it. Using private funds, including his own, he helped create new parks like the High Line and the new greenway on Governors Island. After Hurricane Sandy, he began updating building codes and created a long-range plan to help defend the city against future storms.
The mayor’s team helped him in less dramatic but still useful ways. There’s a new green apple taxi fleet for the outer boroughs and broad pedestrian-friendly plazas on Times Square. He made it possible for a splendid new high-tech university campus to be built on Roosevelt Island. He established the 311 telephone number to help people with routine problems like malfunctioning traffic lights, noise complaints and questions about trash pickup on snowy days.
A master of numbers, Mr. Bloomberg displayed few political skills. His unscripted comments, especially about the poor, can range from thoughtless to heartless.
Mr. Bloomberg insists that crime has declined in part because of stop-and-frisk, but crime has also declined in other cities that did not make it a practice to stop law-abiding people. Between 2004 and 2012, the police made an estimated 4.4 million stops seeking illegal weapons. Half of all people stopped were frisked, but only 1.5 percent of frisks found weapons, and only 12 percent of all stops resulted in any type of summons or arrest. In August, a federal district judge ruled that this indiscriminate use of stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional. Mr. de Blasio has said he will not go forward with an appeal of that ruling.
Mr. Bloomberg’s efforts to modernize the city payroll became a scandal. By the end of the investigation, eight people were convicted of cheating the city out of millions of dollars. And his donations to political parties to gain favor and ballot lines were an embarrassment, though not illegal.
The increase in the homeless population on his watch was not entirely his doing; both Albany and Washington pulled the plug on necessary programs. But Mr. Bloomberg aggravated matters by canceling a sound public housing strategy, thus sending more people to the streets and to homeless shelters. And while he can hardly be faulted for encouraging greater investment, many New Yorkers — not least Mr. de Blasio — felt that he unduly favored the banking and real estate interests and did not do nearly enough to help the working poor and those at the bottom.
Over all, however, New York is in better shape than when he became mayor. As Citizen Bloomberg moves on to private life, and takes on various causes like gun control, immigration reform, climate change and healthier cities, we can only wish him well.
Michael Appleton for The New York Times
紐約——決心將他的政府工作經驗和巨額財富轉化成一個全球市長的職位，邁克爾·R·布隆伯格(Michael R. Bloomberg)正在打造一個實力強大的諮詢團隊，來幫助他在卸任很長時間之後也能在世界各地改造城市。
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images喬治·A·費爾蒂塔（左）將管理邁克爾·R·布隆伯格新的諮詢團隊。
「我們了解到，其他城市有這種向紐約市學習的強烈需求，」布隆伯格執政團隊中負責城市規劃的阿曼達·M·伯登(Amanda M. Burden)表示，她已計劃加入布隆伯格的諮詢團隊。
這一團隊就好像一個流亡政府。布隆伯格已經從他的政府至少 僱傭了六七個高級助手，包括交通局局長珍妮特·薩迪克-汗(Janette Sadik-Khan)、媒體和娛樂局局長凱瑟琳·奧利弗(Katherine Oliver)，以及文化事務局局長凱特·D·萊文(Kate D. Levin)。
彭博合伙人公司將由紐約市旅遊局局長喬治·A·費爾蒂塔 (George A. Fertitta)負責運營，在他任內，紐約今年創下了年度遊客增長的記錄，達到了5400萬人。費爾蒂塔在採訪中表示，這個團隊最終將擴充到20到25 名僱員的規模，其中多數將來自市長辦公室，他們將與布隆伯格龐大的慈善基金布隆伯格慈善基金會(Bloomberg Philanthropies)緊密合作。（和慈善基金會一樣，這家諮詢機構也將在上東區一棟巨大的聯排別墅內辦公，那裡距布隆伯格家很近。）
新奧爾良市市長米切爾·J·蘭德里歐(Mitchell J. Landrieu)回憶起去年從布隆伯格手上接過一筆400萬美元（約合2428萬元人民幣）的資金，用來從外部僱傭八位專家指導新奧爾良如何降低它的謀 殺率。自那時起，新奧爾良就創建了一支由多個部門人員構成的小組來打擊犯罪團伙活動，成立了一支午夜籃球聯盟讓青年男子遠離街頭，還採取措施讓那些被控槍 械犯罪的人更難走出監獄。
布隆伯格行事謹慎，喜歡拿數字說話，他認為，投資城市從數 學角度具有合理性：世界上一半以上的人口居住在城市區域，在未來40年，這一數字預計將增加到70%左右。 城市越大，一個宏大的想法就更可能會引起人們的興趣，並被其他地方所採納，就像布隆伯格在餐館實施禁煙令和推出反式脂肪禁令後的情況一樣。
費爾蒂塔表示，這一團隊的業務將逐步拓展到安全、執法等新的領域。接近布隆伯格的一些人表示，他會很希望即將卸任的警察局長雷蒙德·W·凱利(Raymond W. Kelly)加入彭博合伙人公司，費爾蒂塔並沒有排除這種可能。
Bloomberg Focuses on Rest (as in Rest of the World)
December 23, 2013
NEW YORK — Michael R. Bloomberg, determined to parlay his government experience and vast fortune into a kind of global mayoralty, is creating a high-powered consulting group to help him reshape cities around the world long after he leaves office.
To build the new organization, paid for out of his own pocket, the billionaire mayor is taking much of his City Hall team with him: He has already hired many of his best-known and longest-serving deputies, promising them a chance to export the policies they developed in New York to far-flung places like Louisville, Ky., and Mexico City.
For Mr. Bloomberg, the project is the first concrete phase of a post-mayoral life that aides said would remain intensely focused on cities, long viewed by him as laboratories for large-scale experiments in public health, economic development and environmental sustainability.
Above all, the new endeavor reflects a profound confidence — never in short supply with this mayor — that it would behoove dozens of municipalities to replicate the ideas that defined his tenure: turning busy roads into pedestrian plazas, posting calorie counts in fast-food chains, creating a customer-service hotline for citizens.
“We have heard this huge demand and need from other cities to learn from New York City,” said Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning in the Bloomberg administration, who plans to join the consulting group.
“Under this mayor,” she added, “New York is the epitome that cities look to of how to get things done.”
The organization, to be called Bloomberg Associates, will act as an urban SWAT team, deployed at the invitation of local governments to solve knotty, long-term challenges, like turning a blighted waterfront into a gleaming public space, or building subway-friendly residential neighborhoods.
In a twist on the traditional business model of consulting, clients will not be charged.
Much about the new group is still unknown. But as with most of Mr. Bloomberg’s undertakings over the past decade, it will involve spending eye-popping sums of money with no expectation of earning a profit. (The annual budget will run in the tens of millions.)
The group resembles a government in exile. Mr. Bloomberg has recruited at least half a dozen top aides from his administration, including Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner; Katherine Oliver, the commissioner of media and entertainment; and Kate D. Levin, the cultural affairs commissioner.
Bloomberg Associates will be run by George A. Fertitta, who as chief executive of the city’s tourism agency oversaw a record increase in annual visitors to New York, to 54 million this year. Mr. Fertitta said in an interview that the group would eventually expand to about 20 to 25 employees, most of them drawn from the mayor’s office, who will work closely with Mr. Bloomberg’s sprawling charitable foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies. (Like the foundation, the consultancy will be housed inside a giant townhouse on the Upper East Side, around the corner from the mayor’s home.)
The consulting group is the latest chapter in Mr. Bloomberg’s long journey from political neophyte to much-admired mentor to fellow mayors, dozens of whom have flocked to City Hall to study his open-seat bullpen layout, attended his conferences about urban innovation and applied for grants from his foundation (called “mayors’ school” by several city leaders who have spent time there).
Mr. Bloomberg’s influence has already reached from Miami to Los Angeles, Chicago to Newark.
Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu of New Orleans recalled receiving a $4 million grant from Mr. Bloomberg last year to hire a team of eight outside experts that advised the city on how to lower its murder rate. Since then, the city has created a multiagency team to combat gang activity, set up a midnight basketball league to keep young men off the streets and pushed to make it harder for those charged with gun crimes to get out of jail.
The murder rate in New Orleans has fallen by 17 percent this year.
“To his credit,” Mr. Landrieu said of Mr. Bloomberg, “this guy is putting his personal money into making city government work better.”
Mr. Bloomberg, a careful student of numbers, argues that investments in cities make mathematical sense: More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, a figure expected to surge to about 70 percent over the next 40 years. The larger the city, the likelier that a big idea will catch fire and be adopted elsewhere, as the mayor showed with his ban on smoking in restaurants and trans-fats in foods.
“Great cities steal ideas from each other,” said Edward Skyler, a former deputy mayor in Mr. Bloomberg’s City Hall and now a top executive at Citigroup.
Ms. Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, said that mayors are routinely startled to learn how little money and staffing are required to create the bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and slower-speed zones that have remade New York City’s streets under Mr. Bloomberg.
“You can make these changes quickly and inexpensively,” she said, adding that “the success we’ve had here can be tailored and replicated in other places.”
Bloomberg Associates expects a measure of skepticism from officials in faraway metropolises who may chafe at a New York-centric approach. “It requires sensitivity,” said Ms. Sadik-Khan, whose agenda has stirred sometimes intense neighborhood backlash.
Mr. Fertitta said the group’s work could extend into new areas over time, like security and law enforcement. Those people close to Mr. Bloomberg said he would be eager to bring his departing police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, to Bloomberg Associates, a prospect Mr. Fertitta did not rule out.
He said the organization would try to work with four to six cities a year. Given the mayor’s reputation and largess, Mr. Fertitta expects no problem finding clients.
“There will be people,” he predicted, “who will be lined up at the door.”