Michael Bloomberg: New York is still the capital of the free world

From the inauguration speech given by the new Mayor of New York City outside City Hall
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The Independent Online

Let me begin by saluting the leadership that Rudy Giuliani has provided over the last eight years. In our darkest hour, he was a ray of hope, a voice of reassurance to millions. He made us all proud, and he reminded the world that New Yorkers don't quit. Last night in Times Square, when Rudy swore me in, he said to me, "Don't fail our people." Rudy, I will not.

Today, we celebrate the orderly transfer of power through a democratic process. Here in New York, we understand all too well the price of our liberty. Just half a mile from these steps we lost 3,000 of our friends, families, neighbours, co-workers, including more than 400 heroes who gave their lives to save others. On the worst day in our city's history, we were at our best. We saw the spirit of New York in our unity of purpose. Our police, firefighters, emergency service workers exemplified the highest ideal of our national character.

That sacrifice continues today. Americans are fighting terrorism around the world, and here at home our uniformed services continue the task of ensuring our safety. I pledge that my administration will strive in everything we do to honour the memory of those we have lost, and honour those now fighting for our freedoms. We will rebuild, renew and remain the capital of the free world.

We are the toughest, most resilient and most determined people on the planet. Throughout our history, New Yorkers have always made the sacrifices necessary to achieve a better tomorrow, and there will be a better tomorrow. New York has been and will continue to be a magnet for people from all over the world. This is where the arts, business, research and technology converge to create the world's foremost urban economy.

Based on my experience building a business here in New York, I can guarantee that New York is the best place in the world to do business. No city can match New York for its intellectual capital, financial know-how and cultural vibrancy. To our corporate leaders, I urge you to strengthen your commitment to New York. This is no time to leave the Big Apple. Your future is New York. And New York is better than ever.

Rebuilding our city and restoring our infrastructure, continuing the fight against crime and reforming our schools will not be easy in the current economic climate. It will require tough decisions and hard choices by all of us, in government, the non-profit sector, business and labour. I will be asking all parts of my city government to do more with less. I will ask for their help, and I will seek their advice. But the facts are clear: We will not be able to afford all that we want. We will not even be able to afford everything we currently have. And since leadership means setting an example, and in my book the search for efficiency always begins at the top, I pledge to reduce staffing in the office of the mayor by 20 per cent, and I challenge the controller, public advocate, borough presidents and the city council to do the same. We cannot ask of others what we are not willing to do ourselves.

I will do my part to balance the budget, as I am sure every city employee will do in turn. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. We cannot drive people and business out of New York. We cannot raise taxes.

This is a city where 140 languages are spoken. Since the days of the Dutch, wave after wave of immigrants have transformed this city. They have flourished because of the culture of tolerance and acceptance that characterises New York. Our challenge is to strengthen that culture and fight bigotry in any form. In the next four years, I will devote myself to building a better New York. I promise that I will govern, free from partisanship and prejudice. I promise that I will listen. And whether you ultimately agree with my decisions, you will know that your voice has been heard.

I am very proud of the administration we're assembling, but government alone can't find the solutions to all of our problems. It is not in City Hall, but in the Rockaways, Bay Ridge, Washington Heights, and Belmont. There, and in the hundreds of neighbourhoods throughout this great city, are many of our answers. Together, we will make the hard choices. We will forge a new partnership that binds all New Yorkers to meet our challenges head on, and we will prevail.

Thank you, and God bless New York.