Page 3 Profile: Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and outgoing New York mayor


The end of an era?

The ultra-wealthy mayor of New York will leave office tomorrow [subs: new year’s day] after more than a decade running the city. He’ll certainly be missed by the recipients of the $650m of his money he spent on being mayor.

I think there’s a typo in there...

Nope, Bloomberg lavished a fortune on the city that elected him during his three terms in power. In fact The New York Times, which compiled the figures, says that estimate is well below the true figure, which will probably remain unknown as the billionaire hates discussing his wealth.

What did he spend it on?

What didn’t he spend it on? There’s the $30m he gave for a project to improve the lives of black and Latino men, the $890,000 for 12 years’ worth of breakfast and lunch for his staff, the $7m to encourage gun control, and the $62,000 price tag for cleaning two giant tropical fish tanks in City Hall. He also covered all his own luxury travel expenses: how does a half-million dollar trip to China sound?

Maybe our MPs could take a leaf out of his book

Indeed. Unlike the expenses-fiddling lot in Westminster, Bloomberg refused to take any money for his service as mayor, famously turning down a $2.7m salary. And having donated $263m to arts, civic, cultural and health groups in New York, he just might be the most generous politician ever.

Okay, but what’s in it for him?

Unsurprisingly, his electoral opponents have never been too happy about the vast wealth at his disposal, claiming his spending has earned him political acquiescence, access to ballot lines, and a national platform. And even his own advisors admit that he probably never would have made it to office without his fortune behind him.

I bet New Yorkers aren’t complaining though

The city is actually divided about his wealth. Thirty per cent think it’s made him a better mayor, but a similar number think it’s made him worse, and 35 per cent say it’s made no difference. Money really can’t buy you love.