Saturday 20 January 2018

Bloomberg 'spent $650m of his own money' in time as New York mayor

Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg
Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg Philip Sherwell New York

Michael Bloomberg, the deep-pocketed New York mayor, leaves office at midnight with a staggering new record to his name -- he has spent at least $650m (€470m) of his own money to lead the city for 12 years.

The self-made tycoon used his personal fortune to propel himself into City Hall, smashing all self-financing campaign records as he invested $268m (€194m) on three mayoral runs.

But he has lavished at least $380m (€275m) more on everything from charitable giving to free lunches to pet projects, and indeed pet fish, according to 'The New York Times'.

The total is a conservative estimate, the newspaper said. But it represents barely 2pc of his net worth -- put at $31bn (€22bn) by 'Forbes' magazine.

He donated at least $263m (€190m) to New York cultural, civic and philanthropic causes and effectively gave the city coffers $2.7m (€1,95m) by only taking $1 of his annual $225,000 (€163,000) salary while also funding all staff travel at a cost of about $6m (€4.35m).

He also paid for a light breakfast and lunch for his aides each day. And he installed two giant aquariums for his beloved tropical fish at City Hall, financing their maintenance.

Nor was Mr Bloomberg's outgoings limited to New York. He has spent at least $20m (€14.48m) across the US to promote issues such as gun control, immigration reform and climate change.

The mayor's free-spending ways are also being felt in London, where he is expected to spend much of his post-mayoral time.

He will be the next chairman of the Serpentine Gallery after his "transformative" but undisclosed donation helped pay for the new extension. He has also overseen renovations at his $20m (€14.48m) home in Knightsbridge and is paying for the construction of new London headquarters for his business.

In political terms, his aides tout the virtues of his financial independence, citing that he is free from the demands of party voters and donors.

Chris McNickle, a historian of city politics, said that Mr Bloomberg's fortune had made him New York's most influential mayor.

DREAM

"He has used his wealth to intensify and extend his power and shape New York according to his dream for the city," he said. "He has overwhelmingly done good things for the city, but his spending raises basic questions about democratic principles and practice."

Mr Bloomberg leaves City Hall with a number of impressive records to his name -- violent crime is at unprecedented lows, tourism at an all-time high -- and a raft of initiatives on public health and the environment.

But even by the standards of a country where money is king in politics, it is his personal expenditure while in the job that is perhaps most striking. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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