Mike’s Deputies

Over at the the Lipskys’ blog, there’s much rejoicing at today’s Times examination of the Bloomberg Administration’s unconventional Bronx Terminal Market deal.

To me, though, the central theme of the piece is a window on a defining feature of the Bloomberg administration: the extent to which whole areas of policy are, for better or worse, controlled by the Mayor’s strong subordinates. It was, to some extent, natural: Mike came to office with fewer opinions on matters of public policy than most politicians. But these are matters that weren’t discussed, or even contemplated, in his last election; and it raises the question of what personal projects and personalities a second term might bring.

It’s safe to say that, legality aside, the Related Company would not be part of this deal had Dan Doctoroff not gone to work for Mike Bloomberg. Ditto the stadium push. In another arena, it seems likely that without the happenstance of hiring Tom Frieden, there would be no smoking ban. Mike’s ballyhooed taste in art is Patty Harris’s taste. The transformation of the NYPD into a local Department of Homeland Security is owned by Ray Kelly.

The Mayor has often talked about picking good people, giving them responsibility, and making them accountable. He’s succeeded in empowering competent managers; but the trade-off seems to be that he’s contracted out whole areas of policy, leaving the incoherence that makes this administration so hard to describe or analyze as a single piece. And so hard to predict.