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
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
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
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
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.
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!