Bloomberg Discusses 3rd Term Plans, State Of City
Over a cup of soup at the Neptune Diner, the mayor said his decision to run for a third term came about after an encounter with a woman at the Lexington Avenue-86th Street subway station in Manhattan. "She said, 'I know as long as you're the mayor, the schools will get better,' and that's when I said 'I'm gonna run'."
Bloomberg regards the progress New York City public schools have made under his direction and control as among his greatest accomplishments as mayor. "We've reduced the gap between black and Latino and white students; it shows on the 3rd through 8th grade tests, and I want that to continue," he declared.
The mayor noted other accomplishments that have highlighted the seven years he has been in office. In the last seven years, he said, life expectancy has gone up to 75 years. Domestic violence is down by 50 percent and crime levels continue to drop. "Even though we have fewer police officers, we're getting better results," he said. "Even though for the first time in four years the economy is down and crime is still 17 to 18 percent better."
Of major concern to many Queens residents is the Willets Point redevelopment
project, headed by formerBorough President Claire Shulman. Bloomberg noted that planning for redeveloping Willets Point had begun with the advent of the 1964 World's Fair and is now becoming reality some 45 years later. With more than 65 percent of the land area now owned by the city, "Willets Point is a mopping up operation that's up to the private sector now," Bloomberg added.
Besides test score improvement in the city's schools and the revitalization of Willets Point, Bloomberg noted that New York City keeps reinventing itself, citing closing two sections of Manhattan's Broadway to car traffic. "The city can change things or keep them the same," Bloomberg said, adding that the project would be revisited in December.
Bloomberg seemed wary of suggestions that cutting subway fares would increase ridership and warned of "degrading the whole mass transit system". However, he added, while the city's economic picture is not as rosy as it was several years ago, "the banks are starting to help" and some improvements have been noted.
"Small businesses will lead us out of the recession," he added. The city is doing its part to foster growth in the small business sector by securing funding and training grants and making "incubator spaces" available, and the results are beginning to make themselves felt.
"People want to be part of a city that's doing new things," Bloomberg noted. "Generally speaking, we're moving in the right direction."
The mayor added that he will not run again after he completes a third term, if elected to one. "In four years I'll be 71," he said. "I won't run for anything else in government." Nor will he seek an appointed office, feeling that having spent a career building up a successful business of his own he works best when self-directed.- Linda J. Wilson