Michael Bloomberg Says He’s No Dictator, Talks Nanny State, Considers Bloomberg (Formerly Central) Park, And On the Shutting Down of Occupy Wall Street in the Middle of the Night

Mayor Michael “I Never, Ever Look Back” Bloomberg was interviewed during three separate conversations with New York Magazine writer Chris Smith and the result is New York Magazine In Conversation with Michael Bloomberg out now. It’s gotten a lot of attention for the billionaire Mayor’s statement that Democratic front runner Bill de Blasio is running a “racist” campaign. Meanwhile there are some other choice things in there, such as:

Shutting Down Occupy Wall Street in the Middle of the Night and Blocking Out Media

Could there have been a compromise with Occupy Wall Street that didn’t involve running them out in the middle of the night? 

We waited two months, which I think was more than adequate. I was worried that a court would say that you haven’t given them enough time, so we waited what I thought was a reasonable amount of time. Then we called in everybody and said, “Tonight, this is what we’re doing.” I had at various times during the two months discussed options with the Police Department and the Fire Department and the Health Department and the Sanitation Department and legal counsel. So when it came time I said, “Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!” And they executed it.

So no second thoughts?

None whatsoever.

On Mayoral Empathy; “No Mayor is a dictator,” says Bloomberg

How important is empathy in a mayor?

You have to have empathy to get people to ride with you. If they hate you, then you’ve got a bigger problem. No mayor is a dictator. Leading from the front doesn’t mean you don’t abide by the legal process, don’t need the legislature, don’t need the public behind you.

I can only tell you this: When I walk the streets, people whose support I would never expect in a million years—the truck driver—yell out the window, “Go for four terms!” Or, “Mayor, we love you!” In the subway this morning!

Consensus?! Bah! People want leadership! (And he’s saved your life with the Nanny-state)

Is it naïve to think big changes could have been done differently, with more consensus?

It’s called leadership! We did not take a vote on smoking first. You never would have gotten it passed. But everybody agrees that ban was one of the best things we ever did—saves 10,000 lives a year. Everybody loves it. I think history shows that strong leaders are the ones who make progress.

When you’re criticized for imposing a “nanny state”—

Oh, come on! Everybody loves it! Graydon Carter wrote the nastiest editor’s letter—now he will tell you I saved his life. Literally. His wife thinks I saved his life. Fran Lebowitz is probably the only person whose life I haven’t saved.

Bike Share: “It’s great for Citibank”

Bike share?

Yes, for sure. Much too popular. Citibank has made one of the great investments of all time. I was talking to somebody yesterday from Colombia; he says, “We have to have Citi Bike here.” It’s become a generic term. It’s great for Citibank.

Sure, but people complain that the city is abetting commercialization.

Commercialization is good for the city! And this is done with private money. I mean, what’s your complaint? By your argument, we shouldn’t have any jobs here that are with companies because they use their own name. I don’t get that.

“I never, ever, look back”

You’re going to miss being mayor, right? 

Yeah, sure. But I never, ever, look back. The day I got fired at Salomon, I think I said, “Fuck them!” on my way out the door.

“Probably can’t change the name of Central Park, right?”

Someday the city will name something after you.

No. Probably not.

But what would you pick?

I never even thought about it. What would I like? Probably can’t change the name of Central Park, right?

There is a lot more. This is probably the most human I’ve ever heard Bloomberg sound tho’… I guess there are a few chinks in the ego’s ‘armor’ after 11 1/2 very long years.

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