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Bloomberg's New York

Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Bloomberg's New York
    Book Description:

    New York mayor Michael Bloomberg claims to run the city like a business. InBloomberg's New York, Julian Brash applies methods from anthropology, geography, and other social science disciplines to examine what that means. He describes the mayor's attitude toward governance as the Bloomberg Way-a philosophy that holds up the mayor as CEO, government as a private corporation, desirable residents and businesses as customers and clients, and the city itself as a product to be branded and marketed as a luxury good.

    Commonly represented as pragmatic and nonideological, the Bloomberg Way, Brash argues, is in fact an ambitious reformulation of neoliberal governance that advances specific class interests. He considers the implications of this in a blow-by-blow account of the debate over the Hudson Yards plan, which aimed to transform Manhattan's far west side into the city's next great high-end district. Bringing this plan to fruition proved surprisingly difficult as activists and entrenched interests pushed back against the Bloomberg administration, suggesting that despite Bloomberg's success in redrawing the rules of urban governance, older political arrangements-and opportunities for social justice-remain.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3754-8
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. [Maps]
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. 1-23)

    As of early September 2001, Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to be elected New York City’s 108th mayor was in trouble. The billionaire ex–chief executive officer (CEO) of the media and financial services company Bloomberg LP had pitched himself to voters based on the notion that his enormous business success uniquely qualified him to be mayor. Despite the media-driven hagiography of CEOs, portrayed as individuals with extraordinary capacities for leadership and action, many New Yorkers were dubious that Bloomberg’s managerial skill would translate to city hall. Among the doubters were members of the editorial board of theNew York Times, the...

  8. CHAPTER ONE The Neoliberalization of Governance in New York City
    (pp. 24-54)

    The story of New York City’s contemporary transformation is a familiar one. The prevalent mainstream narrative tells of the city’s descent into disorder and crisis in the 1970s and its reemergence in the following decades as an economic powerhouse and a center of tourism, cultural production, and consumption. But critical urbanists have constructed a counternarrative of this period, which argues that the fiscal crisis of the 1970s provided an opportunity for elites to impose a regime of business-friendliness and austerity in the city. In the decades since, this neoliberal turn has resulted in a number of negative consequences: growing inequality...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Electing the CEO Mayor
    (pp. 55-74)

    Daniel Doctoroff’s leadership of NYC2012 represented the first time a member of the city’s ascendant TCC became directly engaged in the city’s governance. However, NYC2012 operated largely out of public view, and Doctoroff’s influence derived from his connections among the city’s elite. He did not, in other words, translate wealth, cultural power, and social ties into a popular following. In contrast, Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral campaign represented a public claim to leadership of the city by the TCC and the broader postindustrial elite of which it was a part. Candidate Bloomberg brought TCC aspirations to leadership into the open by arguing...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Running Government like a Business
    (pp. 75-99)

    In their seminal how-to guide to entrepreneurial governance, David Osborne and Ted Gaebler flatly state that “government cannot be run like business” (1993, 21). While urging public administrators and politicians to pursue market-based reforms, they make it clear that there are fundamental differences in the functions, internal incentives, missions, and norms of government and business. Gaebler and Osborne go so far as to warn that “democracy would be the first casualty” of conflating making government more entrepreneurial with actually running government like a business (ibid., 22).

    Osborne and Gaebler’s pleas aside, conflating government and business has become a nostrum of...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR The Luxury City
    (pp. 100-129)

    By summer 2002, the elements were in place for the administration to prepare “all of New York to compete, and win” (Bloomberg 2004). The CEO mayor had put the “right people” in place, drawing on the best offered by the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. He had established clear benchmarks and methods of measurement that would allow for the evaluation of performance. Bloomberg and his ex–private sector compatriots were applying their corporate management experience and deep knowledge of the private sector to create the organizational capacity necessary to achieve results. Agencies were being reorganized, core missions redefined, strategic plans...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The Bloomberg Way
    (pp. 130-143)

    This, then, was the Bloomberg Way: the mayor as CEO, the city government as a corporation, valued businesses as clients, citizens as customers, and the city itself as a product. While corporate language and management practices in government have become more common in recent decades, the Bloomberg administration was more than inflected or influenced by the corporate experience of the mayor and his key economic development officials. Instead, corporate rationality was pervasive and foundational, the DNA of the Bloomberg Way. This gave economic and urban development policy a coherence and comprehensiveness lacking in the past. There were integration and coordination...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Far West Side Stories
    (pp. 144-166)

    If Lower Manhattan is haunted by office towers that once were, the far west side of Manhattan is haunted by office towers that are yet to be. The area west of Eighth Avenue between roughly Thirtieth and Fifty-ninth streets has long been targeted by New York City elites as a site for the expansion of the midtown Manhattan CBD. From the 1920s onward, the city’s most powerful real estate developers and brilliant planners have churned out proposals for the commercial development of an area once labeled by prominent real estate family scion and Giuliani-era CPC Chair Joseph Rose as “our...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Why the RPA Mattered
    (pp. 167-198)

    On the warm summer evening of August 4, 2004, I walked down Ninth Avenue with Anthony Borelli, the district manager of CB4, whose leaders were at the forefront of the opposition to the Hudson Yards plan. It was almost 10 p.m., and we were looking for a spot to grab a hamburger and a beer after spending several hours in a small conference room with most of the CB4’s leadership, several staff members from DCP, and a smattering of lawyers and planners as they discussed the plan. The previous day, CB4 had held a raucous public hearing at which DCP...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT The Logic of Investment
    (pp. 199-233)

    Though the Bloomberg administration spent a good deal of time, money, and energy on selling the Hudson Yards plan as an example of good planning, its primary justification for the plan was its economic impact. The Bloomberg administration incorporated the Hudson Yards plan into the luxury city strategy, constructing the plan and presenting its economic benefits in a way that reflected the administration’s corporate and technocratic approach to governance. Specifically, the administration sought to construct and portray the Hudson Yards plan as aprofitable investment. These efforts to sell the Hudson Yards plan as a profitable investment involved two separate...

  16. CHAPTER NINE The Bloomberg Way and Its Others
    (pp. 234-253)

    Up to this point, I have made much of the rationalistic, technocratic, and calculative aspects of the Bloomberg Way. Whether celebrating technical expertise or avowing that the “facts are the facts,” Mayor Bloomberg and his key aides presented themselves as hardheaded, realistic, and pragmatic. Yet this rationalism was leavened by seemingly incongruous elements — for example, the demand for faith inherent in the Hudson Yards plan’s financing schemes or the celebration of New York City as a “luxury city” that underwrote the administration’s economic and urban development strategy. In other words, we have seen glimmerings of how the Bloomberg Way was...

    (pp. 254-280)

    The Bloomberg Way cast the mayor as a CEO, the city government as a corporation, desirable businesses and residents as clients and customers, and the city itself as a product. This approach to urban governance linked entrepreneurial governing practices, a particular urban imaginary, and processes of class transformation in a way that drastically altered New York City’s political terrain. Many of its constitutive elements were not without precedent, in New York City or elsewhere. But what was new was the role of class. The election of Michael Bloomberg and the construction of the Bloomberg Way saw an ascendant and assertive...

  18. NOTES
    (pp. 281-292)
    (pp. 293-324)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 325-342)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 343-343)