2004-09-03 / View From the Middle

Mensch Mayor Bloomberg’s Holding His Own This Week

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a real mensch. Even though he is a Republican, and it behooves him to come out of this GOP convention week smelling like the proverbial rose, I think he has handled just about every aspect with a shrewd dignity that does credit to his office. Remember, he not only has to play host to our guests — some 5,000 Republican delegates and 15,000 members of the national and international media — but also has to play arbitrator and pacifier to hundreds of thousands of Demo-crats and other protesters as they march and rally around the Garden, local streets and, oh, yeah, parks.

Keeping in mind that this is a Democratic town, with the ratio being, roughly, five Dems to one Republican, Bloomberg has to play his cards close. Obviously, being a GOP mayor in a field of Democratic legislators, he has an uphill battle for so many, many projects and yes, he has to be “Mr. Diplomat” as much as possible.

Of course, he’s an arrogant son-of-a-gun too. I guess that comes with being a billionaire. It always irked me to hear him say, “Get over it” when it came to empathizing with us just-plain folks. From the start, he looked like one of those Richie-Rich spoiled kids who just has to have his way — no matter what. But then, when all the cards were laid out on the table, it turned out that his way might (yes, might) be the correct route in the long run for the betterment of the city.

We must not forget for a moment that the job of mayor of the City of New York is so often called the second hardest in the country, with the first being president. And being a Republican in this Democratic town doesn’t help when you’re trying to get a bill passed or trying to get your point of view across — no matter how unpopular it might seem at the moment. An example might be the no smoking laws that were passed a couple of years ago and (although I don’t necessarily go along with them completely) seem to be holding their own — and making for a healthier city in the long run. He is still getting flak from that one, but it seems to be working.

Mayor Bloomberg was among the first speakers as the GOP convention began on Monday, along with another couple of mensches, former Mayor Ed Koch and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (when he was mayor, I remember his press secretary saying he didn’t want to be called “Rudy” by us media people while in office — that doesn’t mean we didn’t — he just preferred it that way. We also called him other names…).

Ed Koch is a Democrat, but he’s voting for George Bush, he says. He has also helped the city in recruiting public relations people to help escort delegates and their families around town. His reason: “Just like Mayor Bloomberg — To help the city; because we love it,” he says.

And, that’s Bloomberg’s reason too. Remember, he came here from Massachusetts and was once a Democrat. It makes no nevermind at this point. It’s the city that counts. He knows what a boon this convention is — and will be — in just public relations alone, not to mention what the Republicans will spend during their four-day sojourn.

Shrewd guy that he is, he started out Monday by taking a bunch of the visitors shopping at Macy’s on Herald Square as part of the city’s “Experience NYC” program. Too bad they didn’t go the following day, when “Summer Sales Tax Free Week” began, at which time they could have saved a bundle (hmmm… moves like that are what probably made him a billionaire). Incidentally, the city expects the convention to produce $265 million in economic activity this week.

Last weekend, when someone asked Bloomberg if he was going to run for a second term next year, he became almost too arrogant in his affirmative answer, as if there was no question he would run and, of course, win.

Which, if he keeps being such a mensch, he’ll definitely do.

View From

The Middle

By Charles Rogers

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