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December 29, 2013- By Steven E. Greer
In the year 2043, when Michael Bloomberg will be 101 years old (he is too healthy to die), what will people remember then as accomplishments of the Bloomberg administration? Thirty years ago, 1983, when Ed Koch was mayor, most New Yorkers remember those days as the city being a place of high crime recovering from the brink of bankruptcy. Then, the David Dinkins era was one of racial healing, followed by the Giuliani era, remembered for the reduction in crime followed and September 11th, 2001.
With Mayor Bloomberg set to leave office on January 1st, all of the newspapers in town are writing opinion pieces trying to encapsulate the important hits and misses from the Bloomberg administration. This is how I think Mayor Mike will be remembered in 2043:
Overall, the Bloomberg administration will be seen as an effective one. The city avoided more terrorist attacks (although we got lucky on more than one occasion), recovered from the financial collapse of 2008 (at least the one-percenters did), and ended up with a $2.4 Billion budget surplus (according to the Mayor’s accounting).
The negatives will be forgotten. No one will remember that he pulled the biggest scam of the century by bribing City Hall to overlook term limits and let him run for a third term. No one will remember the failed City Time payroll scandal or the failed attempt to win the Olympics as Sheldon Silver obstructed Bloomberg’s plan for a stadium in Manhattan. No one will remember how the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution was utterly ignored as more than 4 million people were stopped and frisked for no reason.
However, people will remember Mike Bloomberg as the “short billionaire” who made the city healthier. His eradication of cigarette smoking in public spaces, restaurants, and bars will be his legacy, along with the ban on “large sodas” and trans fats. People will remember how the city of congested cars and gridlock, for the first time ever, embraced human powered bicycles and the Citi Bike.
The other facet of Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy will be the boom in commercial and residential construction. Over the last 12 years, the World Trade Center was rebuilt from ashes (which took too long and cost too much), The Hudson Yards district was rezoned and allowed to be transformed into a large Upper West Side complex, and Brooklyn grew a skyline to rival Lower Manhattan. Along with it, sports came to Brooklyn with the Barclays Center.
Constitutional historians and law professors will have plenty of Bloomberg gaffes to write about over the next 30-years. Economists will portray the Bloomberg era as a successful one, and the taxi medallion moguls will curse Mike Bloomberg for creating Green Cabs and Citi Bike.