Bloomberg Plans to Give Out Free Advice on How to Copy Him
We knew Michael Bloomberg wouldn't quietly retire to his Upper East Side town home. Even as his third term as mayor of New York City winds down, the guy's still got his fingers in too many policy realms, from public health to gun control to alternative transportation. He's got too much money invested – through Bloomberg Philanthropies – in spreading his ideas beyond New York. He's got too many apprentices sitting in city halls across the country, still keen to listen to him.
We did not know, however, exactly what form Bloomberg's influence and ambition would take come January. Until now. Per a New York Times piece over the weekend, Bloomberg has been laying the foundation for a consulting firm devoted to spreading his approach to urban policy to cities around the world. The group, Bloomberg Associates, will do this work for free.
He's already lined up what the Times' describes as a "government in exile," a roster of his top lieutenants who will join the firm, including director of city planning Amanda Burden and transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (Bloomberg apparently wants controversial outgoing police commissioner Ray Kelly to join the group as well).
As the Times puts it, Bloomberg is "determined to parlay his government experience and vast fortune into a kind of global mayoralty":
Above all, the new endeavor reflects a profound confidence — never in short supply with this mayor — that it would behoove dozens of municipalities to replicate the ideas that defined his tenure: turning busy roads into pedestrian plazas, posting calorie counts in fast-food chains, creating a customer-service hotline for citizens.
The firm will have an annual budget in the tens of millions of dollars, the Times reports, and eventually as many as two-dozen employees.
The endeavor seems like an obvious one a man who's long behaved as if he were the mayor of much more than New York City. Many of the policies Bloomberg enacted over the last 12 years, like his once-controversial ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, have been widely embraced in other cities.
Incoming mayor Bill de Blasio – who ran on a platform of anti-Bloomberg change – isn't likely to ask for his predecessor's guidance. So Bloomberg's next laboratories will have to be elsewhere. Given that he's offering to set up them up with his own money, he will surely have some takers.
Top image: Brendan McDermid/Reuters