Citizen Bloomberg

How our mayor has given us the business

"My neighbors [in Manhattan] don't vote in city primaries," said a source. "They vote in presidential elections where their vote is useless. They've privatized their lives. Private schools, country houses, Kindles instead of libraries, cars instead of trains."

In exchange for Citizen Bloomberg's benighted leadership, we've accepted a staggering array of conflicts of interest. The mayor's fortune renders obsolete the "traditional" model of interest groups buying off politicians. He not only does the reverse, buying off interest groups to advance his political agenda but also uses his fortune to staff and support his business. At the same time, he builds the Bloomberg brand that supports it all: Bloomberg LP, the Bloomberg Family Foundation, Bloomberg Terminals, Bloomberg News, Bloomberg View, Bloomberg Government, Bloomberg Law, Bloomberg Markets—not to mention Mayor Bloomberg.

The mayor wrote his own rules in a remarkably deferential 2002 agreement with the city's toothless Conflict of Interest Board, and then ignored them when it was convenient, continuing to be regularly involved in his company's affairs and acting in city matters where Bloomberg LP or Merrill Lynch (which until recently owned 20 percent of Bloomberg LP) had a stake.

Jesse Lenz
Bloomberg LP's headquarters, the Bloomberg Tower. Nicknamed "the Death Star" by fans and foes alike, the huge screens displaying data, the glass walls, and the open floor space in place of private offices or even cubicles are all meant to symbolize "transparency"—one of the many buzzwords from his business that Citizen Bloomberg brought with him to City Hall.
Celeste Sloman
Bloomberg LP's headquarters, the Bloomberg Tower. Nicknamed "the Death Star" by fans and foes alike, the huge screens displaying data, the glass walls, and the open floor space in place of private offices or even cubicles are all meant to symbolize "transparency"—one of the many buzzwords from his business that Citizen Bloomberg brought with him to City Hall.

Top-level City Hall workers, favored legislators, and others have moved freely between City Hall and the mayor's private interests, keeping it in the "Bloomberg Family." Bloomberg LP is now run by former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, while the Bloomberg Family Foundation's approximately $2 billion endowment is controlled, on a "volunteer" basis, by Deputy Mayor Patti Harris. The prospect of a private Bloomberg jackpot job is on a lot of minds around City Hall and throughout New York.

Craig Johnson, the former state senator who lost a re-election bid after bucking his party to back the mayor in supporting charter schools, was hired this month by Bloomberg Law. "I wasn't about to let him go to some other company," Bloomberg said, all but winking. "I was thrilled to see my company hired him. I didn't have anything to do with that."

Beyond the $267 million he spent in three mayoral runs, he documented nearly $200 million more in "anonymous" charitable contributions. And that cool half-billion is just the spending Bloomberg has chosen to disclose.

Harris, now City Hall's highest-paid official, came to the administration from Bloomberg LP. Through her control of Bloomberg's ostensibly anonymous donations passed through the Carnegie Foundation to local institutions, she's served as the Medici Mayor's chief courtier—working for the city while using his private fortune to rent the silence, and occasionally the active assent, of its cultural groups on his behalf. That city giving dropped precipitously when Carnegie was replaced by the new Bloomberg Family Foundation, also run by Harris, which is now spreading cash to potential Bloomberg constituencies nationwide.

As Bloomberg explained in 1997, when Harris worked for Bloomberg LP:  "Her sole job is to decide which philanthropic activities are appropriate for our company and to ensure we get our money's worth when we donate time, money, and jobs. One of Patti's questions is, 'When does helping others help us?'... Not only does Patti commit our dollars, she also follows, influences, and directs how our gifts are used, ensuring our objectives are met."

Elsewhere in his memoir, he adds: "Peer pressure: Its impact in the philanthropic world is hard to overstate."

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News, supported by income from his sophisticated "Bloomberg terminals," has grown to employ about 2,500 journalists, and at some of the best rates in the industry.

After offering up vague statements about avoiding conflicts of interests—no easy task when the boss is a potential presidential candidate, mayor of the nation's biggest city, and one of that city's wealthiest men—Bloomberg View debuted in May with a remarkable opening editorial. The editors conceded that they didn't know yet what their principles would be—"We hope that over time a general philosophy will emerge"—but they were confident they would end up aligned with the "values embodied by Mike Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP."

In June, brand-name Bloomberg pundit Jonathan Alter launched into an exceptionally vitriolic attack on charter school detractor and former Bloomberg education adviser-turned-foe Diane Ravitch. The piece ran with no acknowledgment of the evident conflict of interest in taking shots at perhaps the most prominent critic of Citizen Bloomberg's education policies, under the Bloomberg View banner.

Bloomberg seems to view himself as congenitally above such conflicts, explaining in Bloomberg on Bloomberg, "Our reporters periodically go before our sales force and justify their journalistic coverage to the people getting feedback from the news story readers.... In return, the reporters get the opportunity to press the salespeople to provide more access, get news stories better distribution and credibility, bring in more businesspeople, politicians, sports figures and entertainers to be interviewed.... Most news organizations never connect reporters and commerce. At Bloomberg, they're as close to seamless as it can get."

Speaking of seamless, in 2000 Bloomberg rolled out a new city section, just in time for the boss's run. Jonathan Capehart, brought in from Newsday, ended up doing double duty as candidate Bloomberg's policy tutor and his host in different corners of the city, according to former Times reporter Joyce Purnick's biography of the mayor, Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics. When the mayor-elect reached out to Al Sharpton on election night to tell him "things will be different with me as mayor," it was Bloomberg News employee Capehart who placed the call.

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20 comments
Max Coyne-Green
Max Coyne-Green

A true shame that insatiable leftists can't appreciate arguably the finest public servant of the 21st century--especially one that has fulfilled the most ardent desires of liberals far more successfully than any of his blue-aligned counterparts. His fundamental understanding of wealth-creation, the nature of social contracting between citizens and their public servants, and the true principles of liberalism is unparalleled amongst politicians across America and perhaps the world.

Feng Ke
Feng Ke

People cannot live without friendship, but it's not esay to get real friendship. It is like a tree. We need to sow the seed of honety, use passion to water it, use principle to cultivate it, and use understanding to take care of it. In this way, the tree of friendship can grow well. ===http://www.finejie.com==== ===http://www.finejie.com===

770myspace
770myspace

You have to love this mayor so what if his employees make a lot of money he is charming sleazy deliberate flamboyant extravagant classy and rich just like NY no time for jealousy

Mokkaknyc
Mokkaknyc

Finally the spell that Almighty Bloomberg has had on the media and the NYCEstablishment appears to be dissipating? Bravo Mr. Siegel. I hope to see more analytical critiques of Bloomberg's three terms which will no doubt leave the city worse off than before a billionaire businessman from Boston was chosen to lead a metropolis of immigrants and working class people.

Jillsisler
Jillsisler

Wonderful article, beautifully written about an absolutely disgusting character!

Louis Profeta
Louis Profeta

I forget The Village Voice, not being near, I miss the satisfied laugh reading clever satire, good to be back finding my truth, thanks all.

Louis Profeta
Louis Profeta

Cheer Village Voice, I feel the same way of Bloomberg, he promotes Bloomberg, it makes more shekels doing that for biz, the subway rides are just a free ad, I laugh at what money goes through insecure confusion worrying about "growth" factors on a graph, subway's, sure shot. Glad you shout the news,I'm afraid, sure, right!

The disgruntled NYer
The disgruntled NYer

The fools who kept voting for this dictator have just as much blood on their hands as Bloomturd. He has remodeled this city into his own wetched image and I don't even know this city anymore. Even New Yorkers' attitudes haven't improved as he as also molded half of them as well. I wish some of the hypocritical celebrities who have backed him like Whoopie Goldberg, Matt Damon and Iman realized the dread this guy has brought to the city if they weren't so busy admiring their rich status and how Mike caters to them. The next time you see any of them walking around in a NY street, be sure to throw a rock at them and let them know the fury of the disgruntled working class.

Suzannah Troy
Suzannah Troy

Vote for Christine Quinn if you want Mike Bloomberg for a 4 term from the golf course! I was at the fore front of the YouTube resistance against Bloomberg's 3rd term starting with"Mayor Bloomberg King of NY" noting he was not going to break laws, just change them and I predicted 10 months before the election Bloomberg might not win due to Voter Anger! A month and half before the election my YouTube Channel was removed.nNorman Seigel represented me along with many people contacting Google and I got my work back. Did Wayne Barrett get fired because he reported Mike broke campaign laws which is a misdemeanor A and carries jail time. Sure hope Christine Quinn and Tony Simone are not campaigning on company time, oops, NYC gov. time!

Donny Moss
Donny Moss

As the article points out, Quinn and Bloomberg cut a deal: If Quinn strong-armed the Council to vote in favor of extending term limits (against the voters' wishes), then he would back her for Mayor and call off the Dept of Investigation's probe into her multi-million dollar slush fund scandal -- a dirty deal between two dirty politicians. If you want to help Bloomberg make more money and if you support corruption, then vote for Christine Quinn.

Gay Movie Fan
Gay Movie Fan

I was born in NYC and spent the first 52 years of my life in Queens. But four years ago I had the opportunity to move to a mid-sized "city" upstate and I took it, especially when I found out that my $70k salary would allow me to live like a king instead of the pauper I was inceasingly becoming while remaining in my beloved city. Now I can afford to own a car, own a house, don't have to look at tourists or answer their dumb questions and I find that, culturally, there are interesting museums, theatre and even art happening far away from the Lights of Broadway. I go back to visit less and less and when I do, I wonder why I ever put up with the crowds, the smells, the rudeness, the crime, the high prices and the filfth. The NY of my youth is but a memory anyway; Mayor Guili-Nazi saw to that. Get out while you can; if you get a chance RUN. New York will never be the New York of the 1940's - 1970's again.

Sammy
Sammy

This is a trenchant piece but it has some real oversights. C'mon guy, don't just tell me about the failure of the creative/service class vision I want to know what they city missed out on by chasing that dream.

It's good to see a journo willing to take on the billionaire king, but Siegel you're gonna pay for this in his fourth term when he passes full mayoral control of the press.

VJ Machiavelli
VJ Machiavelli

"The Prisoner of City Hall" is going to love to read this article.

Before there was the "Oracle at Delphi" there was Count Vampire J. Machiavelli

VJ Machiavelliwww.VJMachiavelli.blogspot.comThe Legislative Budget is Too Damn High

Anna1199
Anna1199

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, GrabPenny.com

Feng Ke
Feng Ke

People cannot live without friendship, but it's not esay to get real friendship. It is like a tree. We need to sow the seed of honety, use passion to water it, use principle to cultivate it, and use understanding to take care of it. In this way, the tree of friendship can grow well. ===http://www.finejie.com==== ===http://www.finejie.com===

 
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