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Analysis | Looking Ahead as Mayor Michael Bloomberg Celebrates Turning 70

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg turns 70 Tuesday— a perfect opportunity to take stock of the city’s most prominent septuagenarian.

A birthday is just a birthday. The mayor today is who he was yesterday and the day before. But it is also true that in recent months, he has refined his act, been even more dismissive of political considerations than he was before — probably not because of his age, but because he has less than two years left in office. That makes this legacy time.

Because of his wealth, Bloomberg was always more independent than politicians who have to worry about campaign contributions and support from special interests, ranging from real estate developers to unions. He was never one to pull many punches. But, especially when he was considering a run for the presidency during his second term, the mayor was sometimes cautious and did make some accommodations. He was not notably tough on municipal unions, did not champion same-sex marriage for many years though most assumed he favored the concept, knowing his politics.

Now, he is going for broke. His third term ends December 31, 2013, and he is not about to run for president this year, much less four years from now. There is nothing to hold him back, and Bloomberg not only wants to “make a difference” as he says so often, but, clearly, to influence his place in history.

So he joined Governor Andrew Cuomo in leading the fight in Albany to legalize gay marriage. On the home front, he has all but declared war on the teachers union, and is pushing hard for pension reform, to the fury of the city’s unions. On two controversial national issues, he continues his fight — immigration and his fight against illegal guns — and earlier this month, used his wealth to make a national political statement on an issue of public health.

That’s when Bloomberg donated $250,000 of his personal wealth to Planned Parenthood, in the form of a matching grant, after the Susan G. Komen Foundation cancelled its donations to Planned Parenthood, which had been spent on breast cancer screenings — a decision that Komen subsequently reversed under pressure.

The mayor has made generous philanthropic donations to causes and institutions for decades, but now it looks as though, once he leaves office, he will use his wealth to overtly influence national policy. He has another way to do the same thing: through Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg News has a new opinion section, has hired many established, high-profile writers and editors, and in a decision driven more, it would seem, by business than journalism concerns, has expanded dramatically, even as other media organizations have contracted.

Bloomberg is highly unlikely to be a media mogul in the Murdoch mold; do not expect him to be a hands-on publisher, a role that does not appeal to him. But the mayor clearly wants his name associated with high quality journalism. And, as he looks ahead to leaving City Hall and losing the public platform that comes with being mayor, it would surprise nobody who knows him if he uses the opinion section of Bloomberg News to influence policy. 

His future has to be on his mind as he begins his 71st year, and contemplates life after City Hall.

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Comments [7]

Dave

God,I hate this man. He represents all that is wrong with politics in this country and especially new York. Say no to facism,bloombergs gotta go

Mar. 24 2012 09:23 AM
Donna from New York City

I wish him a very Happy Birthday...He is a wonderful mayor and person...

Feb. 15 2012 07:55 AM
suzan Beresford from Purnick e-mail

Hi, Joyce. I used to work with you on the Robert Kennedy's N.Y. Senate staff.
I'm happy you have become so news prominent over these years. I still play around in politics, but now live way out of the mainstream in a little town of 200 at 1500 feet in the mountains outside of Telluride,CO. Still we delivered over 85% of registered voters to Obama 3 years ago.
I moved out her in 2008, but I think Mayor Bloomberg has been the best possible person to run New York in contemporary history. If it weren't for his age, I would like to see him run for President.
Keep on writing wonderful stuff. Suzan

Feb. 14 2012 08:58 PM
Ruth Wolosoff

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
In my opinion, you have done some wonderful things as mayor of NYC.
I was particularly impressed with your stand on smoking!

However, I don't understand why you seem to loath NYC teachers and their union, the UFT. As a retired NYC teacher who taught elementary school in NYC for 28 years, and truly loved my profession, I am terribly upset with your attitude toward NYC teachers. There are many excellent teachers who deserve much better from you. Please rethink how you feel about my colleagues.

Ruth Wolosoff

Feb. 14 2012 07:41 PM
Roslyn Karpel from Matawan, New Jersey 07747

Dear Mayor Bloomberg, I admire your straight forward approach. You always make sense. I like that you are proud of New York City and want to keep it a place people love to visit and live. Growing up in this beautiful rich city, with a variety of peoples, I recognize a mench when I see one. I just turned 70 myself. Have a very Happy Birthday in this very special year. I look forward to hearing your ideas in the future. Roslyn Karpel

Feb. 14 2012 07:24 PM
Linda C Doery from OSSINING NY

I have loved much of what you do, as I have of Governor Cuomo.
But I grieve that you have both supported Planned Parenthood.
Abortion is a painful, sad event.
I pray both you gentlemen will come to that realization.

Feb. 14 2012 06:56 PM

Bloomberg may not realize it, but his legacy is already written. He's the one who used his personal wealth to override the twice-stated will of the people on term limits.

Bloomberg: he bought himself a third term.

That's the legacy. I hope he still thinks it was worth it. We don't.

Feb. 14 2012 06:30 PM

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