Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his 12 years in office transformed the idea of governing New York City into a business, which is almost an impossible task, CNBC's Karen Finerman said Thursday.
"Yet he found a way to do it, not always successfully and not always with the gentlest hand, but he allowed New Yorkers to expect more from their government," she said during an Afternoon Mo Joe roundtable discussion.
Almost half--49%--of New Yorkers said they approve of Bloomberg's term in office, and 40% disapprove, according to a recent New York Times poll.
The mayor, who succeeded former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in November 2001, was able to quiet protesters when he made budgets cuts because he could cover the difference from his $27 billion fortune, said Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki.
The Morning Joe panelists agreed on worrying about the city's next mayor, and if the "city runs itself" mentality can survive after Bloomberg's three terms in office. He has expressed publicly his belief in the importance of the next mayor negotiating concessions on pensions and health benefits from city unions.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio emerged last week as the top pick of likely Democratic voters in the mayoral race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. De Blasio earned 30% of the Democratic vote, followed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 24%, former Comptroller William Thompson with 22%, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner with 10%, Comptroller John Liu with 6%, and former Council member Sal Albanese with 1%. Seven percent of voters were undecided four weeks ahead of the mayoral election.
Bloomberg is best known throughout the country for his national accomplishments, including advocating for gun control, climate change, and immigration reform, the Council on Foreign Relations' Dan Senor said Thursday. But his local policies were most effective. He restricted smoking in public places, exposed calorie counts at restaurants, defended the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, opened new career and technical education high schools, and grew the city's parks by 800 acres.
In the Times' poll, 55% of New York City voters said Bloomberg cared "some" or "a lot." In addition, 48% said the city is headed in the right direction.
Included in Bloomberg's positive efforts to the city was his demand to allow religious tolerance in the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. The structure wasn't built, but he urged residents to accept the idea based on the founding principles of the United States.
"Mayor Bloomberg--at a time when it was being fiercely contested in the political sphere--he went and he delivered his speech. It was an embrace of religious tolerance, an embrace of pluralism," Kornacki said. "I think he did it at a time when it wasn't necessarily easy to give that speech."
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