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February 14: The Billionaire Mayor

February 14, 2016

Michael-Bloomberg-Net-WorthMichael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York from 2002-13 and the eighth wealthiest person in the world (according to Forbes in 2015) thanks to his creation of Bloomberg L.P., a financial data company, was born in Boston on this date in 1942. With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Bloomberg became a partner at Salomon Brothers in 1973 and created his company in 1981. As mayor, he developed the waterfront of Manhattan into recreational parks, added bike lanes to city streets, planted one million trees in ten years, developed a far-reaching blueprint for measures that would protect the city against rising oceans, and oversaw a huge drop in street crime (a nationwide trend). He also introduced development policies that made the city unaffordable for poor and working-class people. Bloomberg clashed with unions, particularly the teacher’s union as he cultivated charter schools and assumed control of the board of education. He also encouraged aggressive policing and “stop-and-frisk” methods that harassed young men of color to no end. Bloomberg left the Republican Party to become an independent in 2007, and is currently contemplating a run for the U.S. presidency in hope of taking the wind out of the sails of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

“Bloomberg ran New York City during a decade in which income inequality dramatically increased, and yet somehow this man with a nasal voice, poor public speaking skills, and the emotional register of a debit card managed to sell a majority of the city on his businessman’s vision of urban government. Specifically, Bloomberg has scored two ideological wins: First, that the philosophy of enriching the already rich so their wealth will ‘trickle down’ is the only realistic path for cities if they want to avoid becoming the next Detroit; and second, that a business model of urban government not only benefits the wealthy but also produces better performance in city services -- especially schools and policing.”--Danny Katch, International Socialist Review