Mike Bloomberg in Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick


On Abortion: Supported by women's groups for strong defense of abortion

The signals are manifestly contradictory. Bloomberg never dated an employee or, it appears, tried to. Sexual banter, however awkward and even threatening, seems to have remained just that. After he became mayor, women's rights groups regularly supported him, rating him strong on defending abortion rights and in fighting domestic violence. Bloomberg has also set a pattern of giving some women significant responsibility in his company and in government.

Bloomberg obviously watched his words during the mayoral campaign, but he could slip.

The public has not seen the crudest side of Bloomberg and not only because of his self-discipline. In his 1st venture into politics, voters saw as little of him as possible.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.112 Sep 28, 2010

On Budget & Economy: 2008: Wall Street executives deserve bonuses

Bloomberg brought a social conscience to his good fortune, always feeling a responsibility for the less privileged. But his great wealth and Wall Street training also narrowed his vision. Try as he occasionally does to be Everyman, he looks upon life through upper-class lenses.

Though he made a show as mayor of riding the subways, he insisted during the great recession of 2008-2009 that the failed and irresponsible Wall Street executives deserved their extravagant bonuses. And he could startle a Brooklyn audience of recession-struck Caribbean immigrants by asking, to illustrate a bureaucratic problem, how many of them played golf.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.193 Sep 28, 2010

On Civil Rights: 1990s: Three sexual harassment lawsuits at Bloomberg L.P.

Bloomberg's vulnerabilities as a candidate could well have doomed his campaign in normal times. The largest of those vulnerabilities turned on the complaints of women about sexual harassment and discrimination at Bloomberg L.P. While preparing to run, Bloomberg had told his advisers about the cases and they tried preemptively to bury the subject--by airing it in public.

Before Bloomberg announced his candidacy, he disclosed that a polygraph test, administered by an expert he had hired, proved he had been truthful when denying the sexual harassment allegations of a former employee. The contents of the test were never made available, just the expert's conclusions.

One suit was settled a year before he became a candidate; he did not admit guilt, and she was paid an undisclosed sum and legally bound to remain forever silent. A 2nd suit was dismissed. A 3rd was withdrawn. A large class-action suit charging discrimination against pregnant employees was filed after Bloomberg had left.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.108-110 Sep 28, 2010

On Civil Rights: Discrimination against blacks means same against Jews

Never forgotten is William Bloomberg's response when his son asked him why he gave donations to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "He said, 'Because if there's discrimination against blacks, there'll be discrimination against Jews, and everyone else. We're all in this together.'" Mike was 10 or 12 years old but the message resonated.
Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 19 Sep 28, 2010

On Corporations: Rezoning old manufacturing sites led to construction boom

Bloomberg oversaw the most massive rezoning in more than 40 years, recognizing the city's changing face, especially the diminished role of its once thriving manufacturing base. That left acres of industrial moonscapes to be reclaimed once the city government decreed that housing, office buildings, hotels and stores could rise where factories and plants once stood. The new zoning did not guarantee new building, it only cleared a path for more and more building during and after what had already become the biggest construction boom in 30 years. The cranes worked overtime until the Wall Street meltdown and recession of 2008.

The new rules also restrained some development in congested residential neighborhoods and provided for some manufacturing and affordable housing at various sites, though nowhere near enough to satisfy critics who argue that too many of Bloomberg's plans favor the wealthy.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.207-208 Sep 28, 2010

On Crime: OpEd: never a conspicuous civil libertarian

New Yorkers, most of them still Democrats, objected to Bloomberg's handling of the 2004 Republican National Convention, when 1,800 people were arrested and held in a large detention center, some guilty of no more than standing on a street during a police sweep. Never a conspicuous civil libertarian, the mayor brusquely dismisses the issue of the treatment of demonstrators, and privacy in general, justifying himself and his Police Department: "There's a camera watching you at all times when you're out in the street; the civil liberties issue has long been settled," he says.

As he sees it, those who were arrested put themselves at risk and in effect got what they deserved because the police were reacting to threats. 5 years after the convention, the city had spent $6.6 million to defend the lawsuits, an additional $1.7 million to settle 90 claims and still faced lawsuits filed by hundreds of plaintiffs. About 90% of the people arrested had their charges dismissed outright or dropped after 6 months.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.154-155 Sep 28, 2010

On Crime: Reduce crime but with a more racially sensitive police force

Bloomberg wanted the city's reduction in crime under Rudy Giuliani to go further. And he wanted a more sensitive police force and a new civility in dealing with black and Hispanic New Yorkers. He would do away with patronage, turn a deaf ear to the lobbyists and special pleaders and, as the law demands, balance the budget. Bloomberg suddenly had a comprehensive agenda for New Yorkers of all kinds, one that sent a clear message: Trust me. Let me get on with the job. I am all you need.
Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.123 Sep 28, 2010

On Crime: Apologizing for police racial errors kept city calm

Just before 6AM on a spring day in 2003, Alberta Spruill, an African American woman of 57, was in her Harlem home getting ready for work when police officers threw a concussion grenade into her apartment, crashed through her door, and handcuffed her. After complaining of chest pains, she was being ferried by ambulance when her heart suddenly stopped. Two hours later she was dead--literally frightened to death by police who had acted on an informant's erroneous tip about guns and drugs.

Bloomberg called what had happened tragic and "a terrible episode," and spoke with apology and candor at her funeral. A public accustomed to Rudy Giuliani routinely giving the police the benefit of every doubt greeted Bloomberg's apologetic tone with surprise and gratitude.

The city stayed calm after Alberta Spruill's death. And it stayed calm over the new few months despite two more police encounters with innocent African American, each of which provoked similarly soothing and rapid reactions from Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.138 Sep 28, 2010

On Drugs: Stopped smoking at 30; then became anti-smoking proselytizer

Mike the Eagle Scout also played the bad boy, hanging out at the local stables with the townies, to smoke and gamble. "He told me one time that he won a lot of money, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pile of bills," said Susan Carley Davis, another classmate. He wound up smoking until he was in his early thirties, and only much later becoming the anti-tobacco proselytizer New Yorkers know well.
Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 22 Sep 28, 2010

On Drugs: Dubbed "Mommy Mayor" and "Nanny Bloomberg" for anti-smoking

Bloomberg, the public health advocate, opened a citywide offensive against smoking at the passionate urging of his health commissioner to broaden the ban on smoking in restaurants and public buildings by extending it to bars.

Bloomberg's anti-smoking campaign infuriated barkeeps, worried the tourism industry, and frustrated protective mayoral aides who worried about championing a smoking ban with the city still in recession and recovering from 9/11. The policy was fine with them, but not the timing.

"The Mommy Mayor," thundered a New York Post editorial. "Nanny Bloomberg" complained a headline in the Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg persisted and, ultimately, the gamble paid off. Bars and restaurants survived, and public opposition dwindled. The number of adult smokers declined by 350,000 New Yorkers in 7 years, attributed as much to sharp increases in city, state and federal cigarette taxes that ultimately brought the cost of a pack in NY to $10 as to the new law.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.127 Sep 28, 2010

On Education: Ban the use of cell phones in public schools

As the "Nanny Mayor," he accepted responsibility for revitalizing the public schools, promoted real estate development, calmed race relations, paid attention to the environment and improved even on Giuliani's record in reducing crime.

His stubborn insistence on banning the use of cell phones in public schools mystified and angered New Yorkers, more convinced than ever that the mayor, personally BlackBerry-addicted, was out of touch with day-to-day concerns of parents and students.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.203-204 Sep 28, 2010

On Education: All social problems are ameliorated by better education

Education reforms bear on his core conviction that American society is doomed if kids don't learn enough to find a place in an ever more complex economy.

"You show me one social problem that won't be obliterated or ameliorated if people had a better education. I don't think you can," he says. The subject triggers a memory of one of the new movies Bloomberg has watched from opening to closing credits--"Charlie Wilson's War," the 2007 film about a Texas congressman who had covert dealings with Afghanistan. In the last scene, Bloomberg noted, Wilson (played by Tom Hanks) could not persuade his congressional colleagues to appropriate $1 million to rid Afghanistan of the Soviets. "They wouldn't have a million dollars for education. It's a fact. I go to the movies once a year and I fall asleep. I didn't fall asleep this time."

Nothing on Bloomberg's agenda has generated as much attention as education.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.209-210 Sep 28, 2010

On Education: Liberate 1.1 million students from deadly bureaucracy

By instinct, or inspiration, Mike Bloomberg resolved to do a great deal, and to do it fast, while the public still relished the idea of a new start with a new leader and new hope, before resistance congealed and the entrenched power brokers regrouped.

For starters, he was going to win control of the public schools, liberate 1.1 million students from a deadly bureaucracy and a greedy teachers' union--a goal that had defeated his 3 immediate predecessors. Getting kids through high school at last, with diplomas they deserved because they really learned something, was going to be his enduring contribution to a future America.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.122 Sep 28, 2010

On Education: Increased school budget from $12B to $20B

NY's school system is on the scale of a small country. It aims to educate 1.1 million students in 1,575 schools. By the end of Bloomberg's 2nd term, the school budget had grown by nearly 2/3, to $20 billion from $12 billion, driven by a 47% increase in teacher salaries (to an average of $72,000 a year) and court-ordered state money from a settled lawsuit. The schools are also much safer and many have been reorganized into smaller units. The number of charter schools has increased as well, from 17 to 78, and more are planned.

As Bloomberg ran for his 3rd term, [others] confidently predict that the city schools--more than 70% black or Hispanic--will be the 1st urban system to match the performance of students as a whole around the state.

Improvement in the schools under Bloomberg is indisputable. Questions turn on the extent of that improvement--what the numbers mean and whether they are really reliable.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.214 Sep 28, 2010

On Environment: Containerize 12,000 tons of daily trash & export to landfill

The mayor's holdover from his pre-City Hall years was his fondness for engineering. He was intrigued by the problem of garbage disposal: how to rid the city of over 12,000 daily tons of solid waste after Giuliani had closed the last landfill without providing an alternative. Bloomberg drew numerous sketches of garbage schemes and had his staff running in circles investigating not only upstate landfills but even the possibility of hauling garbage in submarine--like barges to Caribbean islands.

(He finally settled on the less exotic if politically sensitive solution of containerizing the waste and exporting it to landfills by rail or in covered barges.)

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.132-133 Sep 28, 2010

On Environment: Congestion pricing: fee for driving into Manhattan

The toughest proposal was congestion pricing. Bloomberg had long shied away from charging cars admission to mid-Manhattan, as London and other cities do. This time Bloomberg was determined to get it right. He won a federal subsidy from the Department of Transportation. He lined up support from the ecology-friendly organizations.

Albany being Albany, the Speaker wielded his favorite passive-aggressive tool, a handy device to bury hot issues. Saying there were not enough votes to pass congestion pricing, he never brought the bill to the assembly floor.

The mayor did not hide his fury. "It takes a special type of cowardice for elected officials to refuse to stand up and vote their conscience on an issue that has been debated, and amended significantly to resolve many outstanding issues, for more than a year. Every New Yorker has a right to know if the person they send to Albany was for or against better transit and cleaner air."

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.160-162 Sep 28, 2010

On Environment: PlaNYC 2030: 25-year plan for pollution & infrastructure

A year into his 2nd term, he ginned up his administration to go green, creating PlaNYC 2030, an ambitious 25-year blueprint to reduce air pollution, build housing, improve mass transit and develop abandoned industrial land. The proposals ranged from the innocuous--planting one million trees--to the contentious--charging drivers a fee to bring their cars into midtown Manhattan, a toll system called congestion pricing.

"If we don't act now, when?" Bloomberg asked, making his announcement on Earth Day.

Most chief executives do not spend much time planning for the future, when they will no longer be in office to claim credit. That's why bridges fall down--from neglect by politicians worried about their today, not a successor's tomorrow.

But PlaNYC's 127 projects, regulations and innovations--an agenda so ambitious that Bloomberg likened it to the designs for Central Park and the construction of Rockefeller Center--rely heavily on political cooperation, public funds and a strong economy.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.159 Sep 28, 2010

On Foreign Policy: Visited Israel for first time just before candidacy

Some at Bloomberg L.P. are convinced they were made part of the boss's "rebranding."

Bloomberg's advisers bristle at that interpretation. The company's expanding good works, and new focus on city news, were extensions of Bloomberg L.P.'s growth and prosperity in its hometown.

Maybe so. But the policy still had political value, spreading his name and goodwill.

Bloomberg exposed himself to his spreading network of advisers and local factotums. A secular Jew who had dutifully contributed to NY's many Jewish causes, he even visited Israel for the 1st time 2 months before declaring his candidacy. (He had, just 5 years earlier, quipped to a reporter for the "Jerusalem Report" that he saw no reason to go to Israel because "there's no good skiing there," boasting that he had said precisely the same directly to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's future prime minister, then the Likud leader.)

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 87-88 Sep 28, 2010

On Foreign Policy: 2008: I know foreign policy from negotiating deals worldwide

He had never articulated an Iraq policy, then the central issue in the campaign, and bristled when anyone questioned his foreign policy credentials: "I know more about foreign policy than any of the candidates. I've negotiated deals around the world, I've dealt with politicians in every one of these countries, we do business with their companies and with the governments."
Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.167-168 Sep 28, 2010

On Foreign Policy: Peace is fragile and democracy is fragile

Bloomberg's nasal sangfroid set just the right tone as the city learned that 4 men stood accused of wanting to bomb 2 synagogues in the Bronx. Bloomberg was calm & substantive as he told a tense city that though we live in intimidating times, everything was under control, the accused has no connection to foreign terrorists and NY was safe. "Sadly," he said, "peace is fragile and democracy is fragile and we have to be vigilant all the time." People felt reassured. A trustworthy adult was in charge.
Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.222 Sep 28, 2010

On Government Reform: 2005: 8-year term limits; 2009: ran for 3rd term

Influential friends, sensing a lack of impressive mayoral prospects, urged him to run for a 3rd term. As everyone knew, the 2-term mayoral limit law stood in the way. So what? His friends thought he could have it changed.

Bloomberg actually owed his job to that law, which had forced an obviously reluctant Rudy Giuliani to depart from City Hall. Moreover, Bloomberg had consistently and vehemently supported the limits. "This is an outrage!" he exclaimed in 2005, when the city council toyed with a plan to extend the limit on everyone's service from 2 terms to 3. "There's no organization that I know," Bloomberg had said, "that would put somebody in charge for a long period of time. You always want turnover and change. 8 years is great. You learn for 4 years. You can do for 4 years."

On October 2, Bloomberg made it official, announcing his 3rd-term plan, citing a "crisis of confidence" in the economy,

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J. Purnick, p.179-186 Sep 28, 2010

On Government Reform: Failed to lure Olympics to New York City

In his first term, he led the city out of recession, smoothly managing the city's finances and services, keeping the central promise of his self-financed campaign to steer clear of influence peddlers and favor-seekers. Despite his bland persona, Bloomberg pursued bold projects full of political risk.

More than once, Bloomberg's ambitions outran his political skills and led to highly visible defeats. He failed to lure the Olympics to NY or build a grand stadium in a dilapidated stretch pf Manhattan. He lost a campaign to force private cars out of midtown, and while his overhaul of the city schools is in itself an achievement, whether it will produce a better-educated generation is a matter of protracted debate.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 4 Sep 28, 2010

On Gun Control: Sued out-of-state gun dealers for selling illegally in NYC

Building on his first term, Bloomberg broadened his scope and once again thought big and bold. He sued out-of-state gun dealers, accusing them of illegally selling handguns that were later used to commit crimes in NYC. He did battle against weak federal gun laws, created a national coalition of mayors to fight illegal weapons -useful to raise awareness, although really effective gun control demands national legislation.

His suits were often settled and drew the fury of the National Rifle Association, whose magazine pictured the mayor as a menacing octopus and held a "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway" to help dealers pay the legal fees defending against Bloomberg's lawsuits. His demonization by the NRA was priceless in liberal NY.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.158-159 Sep 28, 2010

On Health Care: $500M to Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health

He gives to causes and institutions large and small, with a special focus on public health, education and medical research. In his favored field of health, he supports research into malaria, breast cancer, and ALS, and into less conspicuous diseases, including lupus, dystonia and Marfan syndrome.

By 2009, Bloomberg's cumulative contributions to Johns Hopkins had topped $500 million. His central focus at Hopkins is the celebrated School of Public Health that bears his name. He was drawn to public health because others were not. "Mike's a contrarian," says the university's president. "He gives to projects other people don't. He recognized the importance of public health before anyone else did. They don't realize they are living because they didn't get polio or smallpox or whatever. Mike understood that. He thinks in terms of how to move the needle, how to make a difference."

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J. Purnick, p.194-195 Sep 28, 2010

On Health Care: 2000: Two stents implanted in coronary artery

It wasn't until halfway through his 2nd term that New Yorkers learned their mayor had 2 stents implanted in a coronary artery the year before his 1st campaign. The heart blockage was revealed only because Newsweek's reporters dug into health records during Bloomberg's presidential flirtation. The stock market did not shudder at the news. But in a city that heard Rudy Giuliani reciting clinical descriptions of his prostate treatments and Ed Koch loudly proclaiming his fitness 72 hours after suffering a minor stroke, the "none of your business" Bloomberg manner came across as defiant and disdaining.

Bloomberg's obsessive search for privacy produces frequent disappearances when he is not campaigning for office. None of them ever announced--a privilege the president of the US does not enjoy.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 69 Sep 28, 2010

On Homeland Security: 1960s: Rejected as "1Y" when volunteering for Vietnam

When he was completing Harvard Business School, as his student draft deferment expired, he applied to the army's officer training program--assuming that a 2nd lieutenant would be a safer rank than infantry private--but he was rejected for having flat feet.

He was still subject to call-up by his hometown draft board, whose recruiting quota had tripled. Yet the board also invoked the flat feet and classified him as "1Y"--draftable only in a national emergency. How the board learned about the flat feet without ordering its own medical exam remains a mystery. Bloomberg insists he was not the source, and the officer training program would not normally be.

Asked a few more questions about his draft board's decision, he suddenly tore off his loafers and stood in stocking feet. "Look, those are my feet," he said, his voice rising. "Do you see an arch?" Indeed he has no arches.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.113-114 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: Childhood home included kosher kitchen, but mom bent rules

His Judaism was a non-issue for him. "I never experienced any anti-Semitism. In the context that you would ask about, did you feel discriminated against, did you feel like you couldn't do anything or something because--well, no, I never felt that."

Life in the Bloomberg home was Norman Rockwell with a Jewish twist: Mrs. Bloomberg kept a kosher kitchen. Every spring the family took the blue glass dishes out of basement storage for Passover. Every night the family ate together and the kids would clean up. Mrs. Bloomberg bent the rules now and again. She kept one knife, one fork and one glass plate separate, for her rebellious son to use with the takeout Chinese food he craved when he got a little older.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 12-13 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: Bill Clinton's sin was self-indulgence, not immorality

Mike Bloomberg's' pragmatism seems always to prevail over Mike Bloomberg's emotions, and a cold-eyed discipline over his frailties. Get a hold and get over it, as his parents instructed and he does.

When Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky was entertaining America, Bloomberg was indignant. Casual acquaintances were amazed to hear him vent angrily about the president. Clinton's behavior was not only outrageous, he would say, it was unacceptable; he should resign. Mike Bloomberg suddenly a prig? No way. He saw Clinton's offense not as immoral; it was self-indulgent, lacking self-control. Not the Bloomberg way.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 70-71 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: Impatient with government; executive ok; not legislative

Mike's list: President of the US. Secretary General of the UN. Head of the World Bank. Those were 3 jobs Mike Bloomberg coveted as far back as college. He talked about them so often that friends were convinced that he wasn't fantasizing the way young people do, but actually planning ahead.

He made political contributions--modest ones given his wealth--to mostly Democratic candidates. But participatory politics was never his thing. In fact, he wrote in his self-admiring memoir, fittingly titled "Bloomberg by Bloomberg," that when he was pondering a career change in his late 30s, "My impatience with government kept me away from politics. All elected officials could stop worrying."

In what could have been a broad hint, however, he also wrote that thought being a legislator would bore him, "If I ever ran it would be for a job in the executive branch of government--mayor, governor or president. I think I would be great in any of those 3 executive jobs that mirror my experience."

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 73-74 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: Outsider to both Republican and Democratic establishment

The mayor would inherit a dysfunctional public school system. Bloomberg would have to preserve Giuliani's success in reducing crime and welfare payments, find a way to build more affordable housing.

And winning did not look easy. Bloomberg's chances of getting the Democratic nomination were nil; too many better known Democrats were itching to retake the city from Giuliani. The Republicans, always hungry for attention and money and a plausible candidate, would welcome a wealthy turncoat, but their label represented a serious handicap with voters who registered 5 to 1 Democratic. Only 3 non-Democrats--LaGuardia as a "Fusion" candidate and Republicans Lindsay and Giuliani--had succeeded in the last 75 years. Betting against the odds, Bloomberg quietly switched his affiliation to Republican.

He was a stranger to NY's Republican establishment, though, the professional politicians who could talk up a candidate, give him credibility at least on the inside, with the party's power brokers.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 82-83 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: Self-made billionaire from financial information company

The first time I met Mike Bloomberg was in the late 1990s at a dinner party in his Manhattan house.

I'd seen mayors come and go and Bloomberg did not fit the mold any which way. The slight, self-made billionaire was the opposite of the boisterous characters New Yorkers enjoy. He had created an improbably successful company, a financial information giant that grew from a sophisticated computer terminal he developed. Few beyond Wall Street and the City of London understood much about that or knew that Bloomberg was a generous philanthropist, but the elaborate ad campaigns he could bankroll would fill in the blanks. Recognition wasn't the problem.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 1-2 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: 1940s: Raised in Medford, reached Eagle Scout at early age

Mike Bloomberg grew up in Medford MA, a suburban city not far from Boston, and that was part of the problem--or maybe part of the solution. Medford was quiet and dull and Mike was bored. He place could not contain him. He wanted up and out and since that was not about to happen for a while, he turned into a mini-maverick, a restless loner.

He was not a great athlete. He was not a great student. But he was willful, serious and competitive in his own way, reaching the lofty rank of Eagle Scout even before he was old enough to qualify, planning his escape from his drab suburban town as soon as possible, confident in his self- assigned role as a contrarian who followed his own agenda.

If there was one trait that stood out in Mike's childhood foreshadowing the adult he would become, it was his stubborn insistence on taking charge.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 7-8 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: OpEd: Stiff in public; impatient with retail handshaking

Herman Badillo, a former congressman, gamely brought some interest to the Republican contest, but mainly it was Bloomberg vs. Bloomberg. The businessman was a terrible candidate. He was stiff in public, impatient with retail handshaking, awkward with voters and accustomed to saying whatever he wanted and whenever he wanted to say it. Even his own advisers saw the problem. "He started off as a terrible candidate, then got to be a so-so candidate," one of them said.

Could the rigidly private Bloomberg turn himself into a public figure? Retail campaigning was no longer central to a campaign. Television ads, radio ads and direct mailings counted for more than kissing babies or eating hot dogs. With his money, Bloomberg could build a heavily manipulated offstage identity and his minders worked hard to limit and control his public appearance.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p. 95 Sep 28, 2010

On Principles & Values: Candidates' religious beliefs should be kept private

Bloomberg had steadfastly refused to bow to the country's demand that national candidates make a display of religious faith, and he showed no willingness to leaven his position. "I think everybody's religious beliefs are their own and they should keep them private," he said to me when speculation about his presidential aspirations was growing intense. "This business of bringing religion into everything is just bad because if you really believe in religion you should be the person out there championing separation of church and state. If you don't care about religion, then no harm, no foul."

One can only speculate how that message, delivered by an unapologetically secular Jew, would have played out in a campaign that featured the melodrama of Barack Obama's flamboyant minister.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.168 Sep 28, 2010

On Tax Reform: Raised property taxes to 18.5%, highest in history

Having drained any warm and fuzzy feelings that his election might have engendered, he went one step further. He felt compelled to commit the other of all political offenses: raising taxes.

Although he had warned as a candidate that raising taxes would "destroy this city" and pledged no higher taxes in his inaugural speech, Bloomberg broke his promise. To protect city services and budget shortfalls, he decreed the highest property tax rate in the city's history, settling with the city council on an increase of 18.5%. And he raised the taxes 6 months sooner than necessary, to collect more revenue faster.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.129 Sep 28, 2010

On Tax Reform: 2004: Refunded $250M to residential taxpayers, not business

Bloomberg opened 2004 by offering a voter-friendly tax cut on residential property, worth about $400 a year for every owner of a private homer, co-op or condo. That would cost the city only $250 million of the $1.8 billion produced by the Bloomberg tax increase because the break went only to residential property owners. They happened to be his sharpest critics. The mayor gave no relief to the owners of utilities, large apartment buildings, office buildings, stores and factories.

Bloomberg took all the credit for the timely gift. "We recognized that tough times call for making tough--and sometimes controversial--choices. And we made them," he said. In fact, the city's finances usually rise and fall in sync with the national economy and Bloomberg's role in the comeback was limited.

Bloomberg got the rebate through the city council.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by Joyce Purnick, p.140 Sep 28, 2010

On Technology: 1979: On Wall Street at dawn of the computer age

Bloomberg was the firm's first Harvard MBA & as a result, in the vanguard of change at Salomon and on Wall Street.

13 years after he began at Salomon, Bloomberg was effectively demoted, transferred off the trading floor to the "information services" department, Tech Support. Bloomberg found himself literally isolated from the action.

Some Salomon traders expected Bloomberg to walk. He says he never considered resignation; he was a loyal Salomon man no matter what. So he stayed, and if the demotion was a blow it nonetheless turned into another of those Bloomberg strokes of good fortune.

The computer age was dawning. Few on Wall Street realized the transformations the machine would bring. But Bloomberg had an early insight. He understood that technology was going to make trading easier and faster, that with computers every trader's information would be more accurate, more timely. Though no one could know it then, Bloomberg had devised a prototype of the computer that would make him a mogul.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 31-34 Sep 28, 2010

On Technology: 1981: Invented "The Bloomberg terminal" for financial news

Bloomberg recalls that at least a week's copies of the "Wall Street Journal" were always leaning against someone's desk leg on the floor because traders had to search them, to track the recent record of some security.

In 1981 the Philbro Corporation, a publicly-held commodities trading firm, acquired Salomon Brothers. Bloomberg was fired. Bloomberg used his $10 million in going-away money to start his own business, developing a unique computer terminal that assembles and digests financial information. The splashily handsome desktop became the machine that ate Wall Street.

Innovative Market Systems, as the company was called at first, began with 4 people and grew to 10,500 people working in 63 countries by 2008. "The Bloomberg," as it quickly became known, runs new stories produced by 2,300 journalists and editors working in 140 bureaus around the world. It can also be mined for other information, including relevant legal decisions, mounds of financial records and even celebrity gossip.

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p. 36-40 Sep 28, 2010

On War & Peace: 1960s: No burning passion to go war, but it was expected

During the 2004 campaign, the Daily News looked into Bloomberg's claim that he had tried to volunteer for military service in Vietnam.

In his memoir Bloomberg wrote that [during the 1960s] he was "trying to do the right things--serve my country-- while also trying to maintain a measure of control over my life." His campaign literature rang with the same patriotic theme. Years later, he sounded more practical than patriotic, like millions of others who tried to get through the Vietnam era in one piece, their reputations also intact.

"I don't know that anybody wanted to serve, that I wanted to serve," the mayor told me. "I thought I had to and I was gonna go do it. Did I have a burning passion to go to war like some of these young kids do? No. But it was just what you were gonna do."

Source: Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, by J.Purnick, p.113-114 Sep 28, 2010

The above quotations are from Mike Bloomberg:
Money, Power, Politics,
by Joyce Purnick.
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Page last updated: Feb 18, 2019