Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born February 14, 1942) is an American businessman and the Mayor of New York City. A lifelong Democrat, he switched his registration in 2001 and ran as a Republican, winning the election that year and a second term in 2005. He is currently listed on the Forbes 400 as the eighth-richest American, with a net worth of US$20 billion.
He was frequently mentioned as a possible independent candidate for the 2008 presidential election and fueled that speculation when he left the Republican Party in June 2007. He repeatedly denied any plans to run and said the news media had concocted rumors of his possible presidential bid. He ended speculation on the matter in a February 2008 New York Times Op-Ed piece where he wrote "I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president." There was also speculation that he would run as a vice-presidential candidate.
On September 30 2008 reports emerged that Bloomberg was seeking to overturn the term limits law in order to clear the way to a run for a third term as mayor, and on Oct 2, 2008, Bloomberg announced he plans to request the overturning or extending of term-limits for current office holders and seek a third term as mayor. Experts predict that if Bloomberg were to vie for a third term, he would likely spend over $100 million from his personal fortune on his campaign.
A third Bloomberg administration would likely have a very different make-up as several key aides have already gone on the record stating their eagerness to return to the private sector, or devote their energies to philanthropy. Nonetheless, a hallmark of Bloomberg's first and current term has been his ability to attract high-caliber talent from the private sector and experienced public-sector executives to work with him at City Hall and across the vast number City agencies and departments managed by the Mayor.
Bloomberg attended Johns Hopkins University, where he joined Phi Kappa Psi, and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in electrical engineering. Later he received his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Harvard Business School.
Bloomberg married Yorkshire-born Susan Brown in 1975. Their marriage produced two daughters, Emma (b. ca. 1979) and Georgina (b. 1983), who were featured on Born Rich, a documentary film about the children of the extremely wealthy. Georgina was romantically linked in 2007 with Cian O'Connor, the Irish showjumper whose 2004 Olympic gold medal was withdrawn. Bloomberg divorced Brown in 1993 following 18 years of marriage. He is currently seeing former New York state banking superintendent Diana Taylor.
Forbes reports his net worth at US$20 billion as of 2008, ranking him eighth among American billionaires. Bloomberg is among the world's richest people. He was ranked 34th by Forbes magazine in its list of 400 Richest Americans in September 2006. He was ranked 142nd in its list of the world's billionaires in March 2007. List of the World's Billionaires
As mayor of New York, Bloomberg declines to receive a city salary, accepting remuneration of $1.00 annually for his services. He maintains a public listing in the New York City phone directory, residing not in Gracie Mansion, the official mayor's mansion, but instead at his own home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, at 17 East 79th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. (Bloomberg owns additional homes in Britain and in the British territory of Bermuda.)
Bloomberg is, by his own accounts at least, a frequent rider of the New York City Subway, particularly in the commute from his 79th Street home to his office at City Hall. An August 2007 story in the New York Times contradicted this notion however, suggesting instead that he often was chauffeured by two NYPD owned SUV's to a station to take the express train instead of having to deal with the hassle of changing trains.
He has written an autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg (1997, ISBN 0-471-15545-4).
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Mike Bloomberg donated and/or pledged $138 million in 2004, $144 million in 2005, $165 million in 2006, and $205 million in 2007, making him the seventh largest individual contributor to philanthropy in the United States for 2007. 2006 recipients include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School for Public Health; World Lung Foundation and the World Health Organization.
According to The New York Times, Bloomberg has been an “anonymous donor” to the Carnegie Corporation each year for the last several years, with gifts ranging from $5-$20 million. The Carnegie Corporation has distributed this contribution to hundreds of New York City organizations ranging from the Dance Theater of Harlem to Gilda’s Club, a not-for-profit organization that provides support to people and families living with cancer.
In 1996, Bloomberg endowed the William Henry Bloomberg Professorship at Harvard with a $3 million gift in honor of his father, who died in 1963, saying, "throughout his life, he recognized the importance of reaching out to the nonprofit sector to help better the welfare of the entire community. He also endowed his hometown synagogue, Temple Shalom, which was renamed for his parents as the William and Charlotte Bloomberg Jewish Community Center of Medford.
Voting in the primary began on the morning of September 11, 2001. The primary was postponed later that day. In the rescheduled primary, Bloomberg defeated Herman Badillo, a former Congressman, to become the Republican nominee. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary did not produce a first-round winner. After a runoff, the Democratic nomination went to New York City Public Advocate Mark J. Green.
In the general election, Bloomberg received Giuliani's endorsement. He also had a huge spending advantage. Although New York City's campaign finance law restricts the amount of contributions which a candidate can accept, Bloomberg chose not to use public campaign funds and therefore his campaign was not subject to these restrictions. He spent $73 million of his own money on his campaign, outspending Green by five to one. One of the major themes of his campaign was that, with the city's economy suffering from the effects of the World Trade Center attacks, it needed a mayor with business experience.
In addition to being the Republican nominee, Bloomberg had the ballot line of the controversial Independence Party, in which "Social Therapy" leaders Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani exert strong influence. Some say that endorsement was important, as Bloomberg's votes on that line exceeded his margin of victory over Green. (Under New York's fusion rules, a candidate can run on more than one party's line and combine all the votes received on all lines. Green, the Democrat, also had the ballot line of the Working Families Party. Bloomberg also created an independent line called Students First whose votes were combined with those on the Independence line). Another factor was the vote in Staten Island, which has traditionally been far friendlier to Republicans than the rest of the city. Bloomberg crushed Green in that borough, taking 75% of the vote there. Overall, Bloomberg won 50% to 48%.
Bloomberg's election marked the first time in New York City history that two different Republicans had been elected mayor consecutively. New York City has not been won by a Republican in a statewide or presidential election since 1924. He is considered a social liberal, who is pro-choice, in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and an advocate for stricter gun control laws.
Despite the fact that 68 percent of New York City's registered voters are Democrats, Bloomberg decided the city should host the 2004 Republican National Convention. The Convention drew thousands of protesters, many of them local residents angry over the Iraq war and other issues. The Police Department under the Bloomberg administration arrested approximately 1,800 protesters, but according to The New York Times, more than 90 percent of the cases were later dismissed or dropped for lack of evidence.
He spent over 1 million on his campaign by late October 2005, and was projected to exceed the record of $74 million he spent on the previous election. In late 2004 or early 2005, he gave the Independence Party $250,000 to fund a phone bank seeking to recruit volunteers for his re-election campaign.
Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer won the Democratic nomination to oppose Bloomberg in the general election. Thomas Ognibene sought to run against Bloomberg in the Republican Party's primary election. Bloomberg's campaign successfully challenged enough of the signatures Ognibene had submitted to the Board of Elections to prevent Ognibene from appearing on ballots for the Republican primary. Instead, Ognibene ran only on the Conservative Party ticket. Ognibene accused Bloomberg of betraying Republican Party ideals, a feeling echoed by others.
Bloomberg opposed the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States. Though a Republican at the time, Bloomberg is a staunch supporter of abortion rights and did not believe that Roberts was committed to maintaining Roe v. Wade.
In addition to receiving Republican support, Bloomberg obtained the endorsements of several prominent Democrats: former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch, former Democratic governor Hugh Carey, former Democratic City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, his son, Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., former Democratic Congressman Floyd Flake (who had previously endorsed Bloomberg in 2001), and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Bloomberg assumed office as the 108th Mayor of New York City on January 1, 2002. He won re-election in 2005. As mayor, Bloomberg initially struggled to gain high approval levels from the public; however, he subsequently developed and maintained high approval ratings.
Bloomberg's re-election means that the Republicans have won the previous four mayoral elections (although Bloomberg's decision to leave the Republican Party and be declared an independent on June 19, 2007 resulted in the Republican Party losing the mayor's seat prior to the expiration of his second term). Bloomberg joins Rudy Giuliani and Fiorello La Guardia as re-elected Republican mayors in this mostly Democratic city. (John Lindsay was also elected mayor of New York twice while a registered Republican; however, Lindsay did not receive the Republican Party nomination during his campaign for re-election, and he switched to the Democratic Party during his second term.)
He is known as a political pragmatist and for a managerial style that reflects his experience in the private sector. Bloomberg has chosen to apply a statistical, results-based approach to city management, appointing city commissioners based on their expertise and granting them wide autonomy in their decision-making. Breaking with 190 years of tradition, Bloomberg implemented what New York Times political reporter Adam Nagourney coined a "bullpen" open office plan, similar to a Wall Street trading floor, in which dozens of aides and managerial staff are seated together in a large chamber. The design is intended to promote accountability and accessibility.
Bloomberg tends to be liberal about his policies towards many social issues; for instance, Bloomberg supports governmental funding for stem cell research, calling the Republican position on the issue "insanity," while also supporting same-sex marriage with the rationale that “I think anybody should be allowed to marry anybody".
He continues to support the strict drug laws that have been established in New York City, despite having admitted to smoking cannabis in the past and "(enjoying) it".
In addition to his anti-crime work, Bloomberg is an avid supporter of gun control stating, "I don't know why people carry guns. Guns kill people." As mayor he increased the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession of a loaded handgun. In regard to the change, Bloomberg commented, "Illegal guns don't belong on our streets and we're sending that message loud and clear. We're determined to see that gun dealers who break the law are held accountable, and that criminals who carry illegal loaded guns serve serious time behind bars." Bloomberg formed the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition in May 2007, an organization made up of 210 mayors who are supportive of gun control.
Bloomberg has also shown involvement in education reform as mayor, replacing the school board set up by the state with direct mayoral control over public education. He raised the salaries of teachers by 15% while the test scores of students in the city and the graduation rate rose as well. Bloomberg is opposed to the promotion of students to the next grade level for strictly social reasons citing that students should only be promoted when they are adequately prepared for the next grade level. He favors after-school programs to help students that are behind. As mayor, Bloomberg strengthened the cell-phone ban in schools.
In dealing with global warming and New York's role in it, he has enacted a plan called "PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York" to fight global warming, protect the environment and prepare New York for the projected 1 million more people expected to be living in the city by the year 2030. Bloomberg has also been involved in motivating other cities to make changes, delivering the keynote address at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit and stating, "[W]e now know beyond a doubt that global warming is a reality. And the question we must all answer is, what are we going to do about it?" Bloomberg also talked about how he would go about fighting climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, using cleaner and more efficient fuels, and encouraging public transportation. His ideas have occasionally suffered setbacks, such as the New York State Assembly's recent rejection of his idea for applying congestion pricing below 60th St. in Manhattan.
On issues of domestic and homeland security, Bloomberg has attacked social conservatives on immigration calling their stance unrealistic, "We're not going to deport 12 million people, so let's stop this fiction. Let's give them permanent status." He supports a federal ID database that uses DNA and fingerprint technology to keep track of all citizens and to verify their legal status. Bloomberg believes that illegal immigrants should be offered citizenship and supports the congressional efforts of John McCain and Ted Kennedy in immigration reform. Regarding border security, Bloomberg compared it to the tide, stating, "It’s as if we expect border control agents to do what a century of communism could not: defeat the natural market forces of supply and demand... and defeat the natural human desire for freedom and opportunity. You might as well as sit in your beach chair and tell the tide not to come in. As long as America remains a nation dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," people from near and far will continue to seek entry into our country.
Bloomberg believes that the September 11, 2001 attacks were not intended to be solitary events. When he assumed office, he set up a Counterterrorism Bureau which works along with the NYPD intelligence division to gather information about terrorism affecting New York worldwide. He believes that funding for Homeland Security by the federal government should be distributed by risk, where cities that are considered to have the highest threat for a terrorist attack would get the most money. Bloomberg is also a supporter of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Bloomberg has expressed a distaste of taxes, stating, "Taxes are not good things, but if you want services, somebody's got to pay for them, so they're a necessary evil." As mayor, he did raise property taxes to fund budget projects; however, in January 2007 he proposed cuts in property taxes by 5% and cuts in sales taxes including the elimination of taxes on clothing and footwear. Bloomberg pointed to the Wall Street profits and the real estate market as evidence that the city's economy is booming and could handle a tax break.
His self-described fiscal conservatism also led him to eliminate the existing $6 billion deficit when he assumed office. He balanced the budget of New York City by raising property taxes and making cuts to city agencies, excluding the police and fire departments.
As a businessman, Bloomberg is respected by the business community and governs with a pro-business platform. He is in favor of providing tax breaks to big corporations for the good of the whole community. As mayor, Bloomberg lobbied to the CEO of Goldman Sachs to establish their headquarters across from Ground Zero by promising $1.65 billion in tax breaks. Regarding this deal, Bloomberg stated, "This [New York City] is where the best want to live and work. So I told him [CEO of Goldman Sachs], 'We can help with minimizing taxes. Minimizing your rent. Improving security. But in the end, this is about people.'
He has had a less cordial relationship with unions as mayor. In 2002, when New York City's transit workers threatened to strike, Bloomberg responded by riding a mountain bike through the city to show how the city could deal with the transit strike by finding alternate means of transportation and not pandering to the unions.
Bloomberg is a staunch advocate of free trade and is strongly opposed to protectionism, stating, "The things that we have to worry about is this protectionist movement that has reared its head again in this country...." He worries about the growth of China and fears the lessening gap between the United States and other countries: "The rest of the world is catching up, and, there are people that say, surpassing us. I hope they are wrong. I hope those who think we are still in good shape are right. But nevertheless, the time to address these issues is right now.
Bloomberg puts a strong emphasis on public health and welfare, adopting many liberal policies. As the mayor he made HIV, diabetes, and hypertension all top priorities. He extended the city's smoking ban to all commercial establishments and implemented a trans fat ban in restaurants. He also launched a program called Opportunity NYC which is the nation's first-ever conditional cash transfer pilot program designed to help New Yorkers break the cycle of poverty in the city. He instituted a $7.5 billion municipal affordable housing plan, the largest in the nation, that is supposed to provide 500,000 New Yorkers with housing.
Bloomberg is concerned about poverty and growing class divisions stating, "This society cannot go forward, the way we have been going forward, where the gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing.
Initially, Bloomberg strongly supported the war in Iraq and the rationale for going in. He stated, "Don't forget that the war started not very many blocks from here" alluding to Ground Zero. In regard to the global War on Terrorism including Iraq he said, "It's not only to protect Americans. It's America's responsibility to protect people around the world who want to be free." His enthusiasm seems to have lessened somewhat over the course of the war. In August of 2005 he said, "I think everybody has very mixed emotions about the war that was started to find weapons of mass destruction and then they were not found. Bloomberg expresses criticism about Democrats in Congress who want to set a timetable for withdraw from Iraq calling them, "irresponsible.
Mayor Bloomberg has recruited some top foreign policy experts to advise him on international issues of general interest.
Mayor Bloomberg is often a proponent of large-scale development. He has repeatedly come down in favor of projects such as the Atlantic Yards mega-development, the Hudson Yards redevelopment, and the Harlem rezoning proposal. This has led to a negative response from the preservationist community. On smaller-scale issues, Bloomberg typically takes the side of development as well. He favors the demolition of Admiral's Row in order to build a supermarket parking lot. However, Bloomberg has come down on the side of preservation a number of times, most notably in vetoing landmark revocation for the Austin, Nichols warehouse. This move was widely applauded by architectural historians. The City Council overruled the veto shortly thereafter. He is largely responsible for the bus shelter deal with Cemusa, which has drawn a lot of criticism from New York residents.
Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly stated his intention to return to a life of philanthropy once his eight-year tenure in office expires. In pursuit of this goal, he purchased a prospective headquarters for $45 million, originally built by Stuyvesant Fish, for his planned foundation on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the City of New York.
Adding more fuel to the speculation that Bloomberg might consider a VP slot were a series of meetings he had in mid-August 2007 with former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat who had considered running as an Independent, and later with Barack Obama on 30 November 2007. A breakfast meeting with John McCain on May 17, 2008 led to speculation that Bloomberg may be on McCain's short list of possible VP candidates.