When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in January of 2002, he inherited a city still reeling from the September 11th terror attacks—and had to fill the not-insignificant shoes of outgoing mayor Rudy Giuliani. Since then, Mayor Bloomberg has shifted City Hall’s focus to issues like housing and education, while still overseeing the reconstruction in Lower Manhattan. It’s a tall order—and Mayor Bloomberg took time recently to answer some direct questions from The Cooperator about his administration and his vision for the future of the city.
Mayor Bloomberg, New York City’s 108th mayor, was born and raised in Massachusetts, and educated at Johns Hopkins University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. A few years later, he earned an MBA at Harvard.
A Wall Street trader after college graduation, he founded Bloomberg LP in 1982, growing it into a worldwide financial and media news service business. A billionaire businessman, who is known for a strong managerial style, Mayor Bloomberg easily won re-election in 2005, defeating Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer by a margin of 20 percent, the highest ever recorded for a Republican candidate in the city.
During his administration, Mayor Bloomberg has sought to improve public health enacting a smoking ban in restaurants, nightclubs and bars, maintained public safety to help keep crime rates low, improved New Yorkers’ quality of life by stricter enforcement of noise, vandalism and grafitti complaints, established the 311 Citizen Service Center hotline to foster communication with the mayor’s office and address the public’s needs, raised instructional standards in the public schools, and endured controversy over failed proposals for a West Side Stadium and 2012 Olympic bid.
Mayor Bloomberg: “There’s a lot to be proud of—unemployment is at its lowest since 1988, there’s development across the city, and our world class police department has made New York the safest big city in America. But if I had to name one thing, it would be getting the schools under mayoral control and taking the necessary steps to give our kids the education they deserve. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and the Department of Education are now pushing forward with the Children First initiative, combining a system-wide instructional approach with increased autonomy, responsibility, and accountability for individual schools. Our success is clear—graduation rates are up, and the state has placed 290 city schools on its-high performing list, up from 186 the year before. We’re also embarking on a five-year, $13 billion capital plan that will revitalize the physical plant of the schools.