Friday, December 27, 2013

1271 Charlotte Would Be Proud

1271 Charlotte Would Be Proud

In recent years, there’s only one person who could stand up against New York mayor Mike Bloomberg with a chance of winning: his mother, Charlotte who passed away in 2011 at the age of 102.

The mayor has a sister and two daughters.  But chances are they, like anyone else stay out of his path, at least when it comes to non-family matters.

So as his 12 years in office come to an end next week, we take a look back at his administration.

There are some things you need to know about the man.  First, if he climbs any higher on the Forbes 400 he’ll get a nosebleed.  Second, he’s already given away more than the combined lifetime incomes of the first hundred people reading this page. Third, he plays the role of “smartest guy in the room,” and sometimes -- actually often -- he really is.

The mayor, any mayor, is often remembered short term for his screwups.  Lindsay the ineffective.  Beame the accountant who couldn’t fix the books.  Dinkins the swamped.  Giuliani the Batman of squeegee crime.  Bloomberg: of the road use tax, Big Gulp’s public enemy number one, green taxis and no smoking.

Later, history redeems them.  Lindsay brought peace to a city of anger. Dinkins eventually did build something akin to the Great Mosaic. Giuliani led us through and past 9/11.

And Bloomberg? Parks.  Rebuilding. Fiscal soundness, improved schools, a plummeting crime rate, stronger enforcement of the gun laws.  And a city government that runs what passes for smoothly in comparison to earlier years.

Are you better off now than you were 12 years ago?  Sure. Jobs are expanding, the streets are clean by New York standards, the unions are still thorns in the sides of the government and private industry but not extinct.  

So, complain all you want about things like tax rates, crowded conditions, rude taxi drivers, slow buses, too many homeless.  But overall we’re better off with Mike in City Hall than we were with many of his predecessors.

Bloomberg reminded the rest of the country that New York is not just another place. It’s a national leader in finance, thought, media, and complexity. And City Hall is a national platform for those mayors who choose to make it one.

Bloomberg certainly did that.  Gun control, diet, health issues were not just city concerns this past dozen years. He made them part of the national conversation.

And even though he’d been regularly accused of trying to create a “nanny state,” the conversation needed to be started.

Did he accomplish all his goals? No way.  Did he handle every emergency perfectly? Of course not.  Just think about that big snowstorm and the overreaction to the next weather threats.

We worried back in the day that he was out of his element when he first ran.  We worried about what would happen if he won.  We worried about what would happen if he lost.

But all of those worries were unfounded.

What’s next?  He’s been vague.  Everything from wanting to go back to work at his company at least part time to “drinking a small soda on a no smoking beach” as he said the other day on Saturday Night Live.

One thing you can be sure of:  we haven’t heard the last of this guy. 

Another thing?  Charlotte would be proud.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
(Note: your poster worked for Bloomberg News for seven years that began before Mike ran for office.)
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© WJR 2013

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