MY HERO, MAYOR MIKE
six weeks ago, i wrote herein of my years of sharing cabs--saving myself and strangers time, money and even emotional distress.
last week, mayor michael bloomberg proposed official rules for splitting rides. coincidence?
in my view, our mayor's the best in history, despite the zeitgeist (a finger to the wind shows growing resentment toward wall street, rich entrepreneurs and even idealistic heirs like caroline kennedy).
i'm not grousing about bloomberg's budget-we're lucky as hell the richest man in the city's leading us through our financial horrors. i'm particularly curious about bloomberg's transformations, especially the moment he decided to add public service to his philanthropy.
last year, besides superior leadership, michael bloomberg gave more money to charity than anybody: $235 million. recently, he announced a "private fund" giving $250 to families earning under $45,000 a year, if they manage to save $500 over the course of a year. can you picture any other self-made billionaire trying everything to make public education work-even cash rewards to kids for improved grades?
in 2001, i was not persuaded by his calling cards: the eponymous media empire built from scratch and an endorsement from rudy giuliani, who didn't want to meet with harlem representatives.
but bloomberg's good works confound, from gun control (his national mayors' group is stopping up holes that put guns in criminals' hands), to the golden apple awards for restaurants that get perfect health inspections, to banning cigarette smoking, to proposing windmills on skyscrapers, to fighting trans fat on restaurant menus, to hiring caroline kennedy to do public school fundraising. a colleague with a tenant problem telephoned bloomberg's new 311 and presto, a qualified person solved everything. i'll never forget artist christo's saffron banners flying in central park, flaunting our courage after 9/11.
let me back up. i mostly see politicians as inefficient sly show-offs. and since the 1980s, i've sighed over new york's lost idealism and artists. wall street ethics were raping my city.
evidence: when i was in the movie business in the 1980s, i was freaked by encounters with thuggy, cocaine-fueled wall street bombasts. (several mercifully were imprisoned.)
evidence: i'm upset by "accidental" governor david paterson's nasty, threatened treatment of kennedy. the mayor's ex-candidate for senate is brainy, celebrated and clean-living.
truth is, before bloomberg stepped up, i'd longed for a ceiling on how much money one person could accrue. but lo and behold our richest neighbor labors brilliantly for the public good. thank you, michael bloomberg for turning my personal philosophy on its ear.
when bloomberg can't get good things done officially, he often secretly (and not secretly) uses his own money to fix the problem. he's donated millions to the arts alone.
the mayor's the mystery man who rides a black horse into town and cleans it up. i love what he wrote about being really rich: "you can only eat so many meals, have so much domestic help, travel so many places and live in so many rooms. you can only sleep in one bed at a time."
i bet bloomberg will be running the greatest urban show on earth for a long time-unless new yorkers are a lot less intelligent than i think.
author and journalist susan braudy's most recent book is the boudins and the aristocracy of the left, published by alfred knopf. her email address firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com.
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