The News on Bloomberg

At first glance, Michael

Bloomberg may not strike New Yorkers as the most viable candidate for

Mayor. After all, he comes with a $4 billion fortune, which will immediately

raise suspicions that he is simply a bored rich man who wants to buy City Hall.

But even a cursory glance at Mr. Bloomberg’s life and career indicates that he would introduce a fresh face and an

entrepreneurial spirit into this November’s Mayoral contest, which will

otherwise be populated by decent but thoroughly conventional candidates.

For starters, unlike the other contenders, Mr. Bloomberg has

actually built an organization from scratch, and understands how to attract and

retain first-class talent. Raised in a

blue-collar town in Massachusetts, educated at Johns Hopkins University

and Harvard Business School, schooled in the ways of business at Salomon Brothers, Mr. Bloomberg came up with a new way of delivering

financial information to traders and made it into a hugely successful business,

one with a strong reputation as a company that invests in training its

workforce. Such experience would give him a leg up when it comes to running a

government with a budget in excess of $36 billion and employees who could

certainly benefit from better training. He is also the only potential candidate

with a genuine understanding of how information technology is transforming our

society and economy. Rudolph Giuliani made the city safe; now we need to keep

it safe, but also to make it smart.

The Democratic contenders-Mark Green, Alan Hevesi, Fernando

Ferrer and Peter Vallone-share a long-term, intimate involvement with New York

Democratic politics. Each has many sacred cows, areas of policy or legislation

they simply cannot touch. Mr. Bloomberg, a

newly minted Republican, is unencumbered with obligations to party

bosses, county leaders and interest groups.

Mr. Bloomberg, who

encourages his employees to do volunteer work with literacy programs,

identifies himself as a social liberal. In 2000, he gave $100 million to

charity, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the United Negro College Fund and the

Breast Cancer Research Foundation. New York hospitals would benefit from

Mr. Bloomberg’s experience as chairman of the board of Johns Hopkins

University, which includes one of the country’s pre-eminent medical centers and

teaching hospitals.

Of course, it is far too early to predict which of the

hopeful candidates would make the best Mayor. But it’s not too early to predict

that New Yorkers deserve a contest invigorated by the likes of Michael

Bloomberg.

Pataki Loots the City

With his decision to appeal a recent, historic court ruling

that ordered the state to increase spending on New York City schools, Governor

George Pataki has missed an opportunity to be a leader, a governor of stature,

and revealed his roots as a small-minded former mayor of Peekskill, N.Y. Any

illusion that Mr. Pataki is a friend to the city should be dispelled by his

latest actions.

Earlier this month, Justice Leland DeGrasse of the State

Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled that the

state had been violating its own Constitution and giving the city a raw

deal for years when it came to school funding, favoring the suburban and rural

districts which are the Governor’s power base. Justice DeGrasse issued an

unambiguous and clear opinion from the bench ordering the state to fix the

imbalance by September, which would mean the state allocating an extra $1

billion to be spent on hiring qualified teachers, reducing class sizes,

renovating buildings and investing in computers.

Mr. Pataki wasted $11 million of New York taxpayer money

opposing the suit that led to the judge’s ruling, and now he is poised to spend

even more in a futile attempt to overturn what was a clear-cut decision. What

can he be thinking? It seems he wants to run for re-election as an upstate

governor who “stands up” to the city. Mr. Pataki refuses to recognize that New

York City provides more than half of the state’s personal-income-tax revenue

and that weakening its school system can only hurt the state over the long

term.

Eventually, the court decision will be upheld. In the

meantime, Mr. Pataki’s appeal may delay a resolution for years. It is hard to

imagine how the Governor will make the case for higher office-or even for

holding onto his own office-when he so openly punishes his state’s greatest

city and most valuable asset.

Go, Giants!

They play in New Jersey, but they wear “NY” on their

helmets. In a sport that seems to trample on tradition with impunity, they are

throwbacks to another era. They are co-owned by the same family, the Maras,

which bought the franchise for $500 three-quarters of a century ago. The other

co-owner, Bob Tisch, is a New York industrialist of the first order.

They are the New York Giants, and on the last Sunday of the

month, Jan. 28, they will take the field for Super Bowl XXXV against the

Baltimore Ravens. Their journey to the big

game has been one of the most improbable championship rides in recent

history. Predicted to finish with as many losses as wins, scoffed at during

their early-season success, jeered when they were pummeled by the league’s

elite teams, they and their coach, Jim Fassel, have gotten the last laugh.

They’re in Tampa; every other team save one is home, watching.

New York is not, at first glance, a quintessential football

town. Places like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Chicago-heartland

cities, cities of big shoulders and

smokestacks and blue collars-seem better suited for this violent collision sport, where the teams have names like

Packers and Steelers. The Giants, however, are one of New York’s most

storied teams, and the “NY” logo on their helmets is both a tribute to the

team’s past glory-when they played at the Polo Grounds and, later, at Yankee

Stadium-and a bid for the affections of the new New York.

They may not play here, but their hearts are here. So we add

our voices to a growing chorus: Go, Giants!

The News on Bloomberg