Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
As Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio unveils the city's next administration, Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his farewell tour.
In his eighth and final speech as mayor to the Association for a Better New York, a vaunted group of civic and business leaders, Bloomberg reflected on the values he said define New York City — and did so with uncharacteristic emotion.
The breakfast is a ritual for New York City leaders and serves as an excuse for schmoozing over coffee and croissants. On Thursday, the event also drew a who’s who of Bloomberg appointees, including Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and former Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler.
While it was a perfect setting to reflect on the past 12 years, Bloomberg opted instead to talk about something happening in the next few weeks.
“My daughter Georgina is going to welcome the latest member of the Bloomberg family into the world,” said Bloomberg, who said when his grandson arrives, he plans to hold him, look him in the eye and say, “This is your generation's city now. It's the greatest city in the world. Don't screw it up.”
That’s not just his message to his grandson — it's his message to the next administration, to preserve what he's leaving behind.
But it was also a message of hope that the values Bloomberg feels define New York at its best — freedom, diversity and equality — are sustained long term. He even choked up in the final lines of the speech.
Not everyone in the room was a Bloomberg loyalist. But even incoming City Comptroller Scott Stringer gave the Mayor his due.
“Look, I haven't always agreed with him,” said Stringer. “But it's hard not to respect what this mayor and what this administration accomplished.”
By that point, the mayor was gone. He left with his long-time companion Diana Taylor. And the crowd lingered on chatting about what comes next.