Saturday, November 17, 2012
Bloomberg not empathetic because he's a great manager
From the NY Times:
If the early days of Hurricane Sandy played to Mr. Bloomberg’s strengths — infrastructure expertise, no-nonsense crisis management — the extended and halting recovery has laid bare his limitations. After nearly 12 years of overseeing the nation’s largest municipality, he remains deeply uncomfortable with the role of consoling and soothing his city. He is rarely seen at public meeting with storm victims, and when he does interact with them, there are no tears or hugs.
While President Obama, touring the region on Thursday, embraced residents on Staten Island, Mr. Bloomberg hung back. He is more at ease in formal news briefings, where he ticks off facts about food-distribution centers and corporate donations. Asked on Tuesday to reflect on the scenes he had witnessed in the Rockaways, the mayor demurred. “We’re just going to deal with it,” he said.
Mr. Bloomberg has not been absent: since the storm hit, he has made more than a dozen visits — unannounced to the press — to hard-hit areas in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, where he spoke with displaced residents. By design, the trips are kept private. Videos, edited at City Hall, are sometimes posted on a YouTube page, although often without sound, so the mayor’s conversations with residents cannot be heard.
Aides said the mayor considered it crass to expose suffering residents to scrutiny.
“His interactions with people who live in these neighborhoods are not designed for the press,” Howard Wolfson, the deputy mayor primarily responsible for fortifying Mr. Bloomberg’s legacy, said.
His aides said the mayor would ultimately be judged on how the city rebounds, not on empathy, although they are keenly aware that Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who urged New Yorkers to take in a Broadway show in the wake of a blizzard in 2010, is always at risk of falling into caricature — perhaps never more so than now, as he confronts a staggering crisis at the end of his final term.
“The people in this city didn’t elect Mike Bloomberg three times to give him a hug,” Mr. Wolfson said. “His focus is helping people restore their lives. That’s what he believes government is there to do.”
Great. When is he going to start doing that?