If you're a fan of the Bloomberg administration, you're in luck: King Mike and his closest comrades could soon bring their expertise to your city -- for free.
This weekend, The New York Times had the scoop on what's next for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. When his administration wraps up in January, Bloomberg will be leading an urban consultancy -- called Bloomberg Associates -- whose mission will be to help reshape global cities. According to the Times, local governments around the world will have the opportunity to call upon Bloomberg Associates to come and help them solve urban challenges. The organization is being fully funded by Bloomberg himself, and clients will not be charged.
Not a lot is yet known about the consultancy, but the Times reports that a few heavy hitters from the Bloomberg administration will be joining Bloomberg Associates. Here's a rundown of those announced thus far and their major accomplishments in New York:
Amanda M. Burden, Director of City Planning: An urban planner and civic activist, Burden was appointed by Bloomberg in 2002 and has since led the charge on reclaiming the city's waterfront and rezoning 40% of the city to favor new development. Under her watch, New York saw the reclamation of the abandoned railroad tracks that became the High Line; and the birth of the massive Hudson Yards project. As Burden told The New York Times last year, "I like to say that our ambitions are as broad and far-reaching as those of Robert Moses, but we judge ourselves by Jane Jacobs's standards."
Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Commissioner: Like Amanda Burden, Janette Sadik-Khan is another high-profile figure in the Bloomberg administration who has significantly changed the look and feel of New York City. Walk around New York, and you'll see Sadik-Khan's vision and efforts everywhere: From the pedestrian plazas along Broadway and elsewhere, to the successful Citi Bike bike-share program, to the hundreds of miles of on-street bike lanes, bus rapid transit, street furniture, and more. Sadik-Khan will leave behind a city where the streets are once again becoming shared spaces. Her expertise and passion will be an asset to any city seeking guidance from this consultancy.
Katherine Oliver, Media and Entertainment Commissioner: As Media and Entertainment Commissioner, Katherine Oliver has overseen the city's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting; NYC Digital, which works toward turning New York into a leading digital city; and NYC Media, the city's television, radio, and online media network. Under her watch, New York has launched its first digital office and hired its first Chief Digital Officer. She's developed workforce development programs to encourage diversity in New York's entertainment industry. And she launched the Made in NY logo which gets awarded to those entertainment projects primarily created or filmed in New York.
Kate D. Levin, Cultural Affairs Commissioner: An award-winning civic activist, Kate Levin directed the city's cultural policy under Mayor Bloomberg, advocating and finding funding for various non-profit cultural institutions throughout New York.
George A. Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company: Bloomberg's tourism chief, who will be stepping down as of January 1, will be charged with running the Bloomberg Associates consultancy. Fertitta was hired by Bloomberg to create NYC & Company -- a marketing and tourism organization charged with attracting 50 million tourists by 2015. Just this week, the mayor's office and NYC & Company announced that the city is on track for 54.3 million tourists for 2013 -- an increase of 1.6 million visitors from 2012.
For all the criticism that Mike Bloomberg has gotten -- particularly from his incoming successor, Bill de Blasio, who pegged the mayor as the cause of inequality in New York -- let's take a moment to give credit where it's due. Mayor Bloomberg, who earned $1 per year during his three terms as mayor, is now devoting his personal fortune to improving cities around the globe. In a world where money typically runs political efforts into the ground, Bloomberg's generosity and dedication to helping local governments is refreshing to see.
This New Yorker is delighted that the brightest minds of the Bloomberg administration will continue to work together for the greater good of cities. My only hope is that they continue to influence the Big Apple, too.
— Nicole Ferraro, Editor in Chief, UBM's Future Cities