Mike Bloomberg to Open a Pro Bono Consulting Shop for Cities

Bloomberg Associates will focus on exporting the mayor’s theories on governance to cities beyond New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking in 2009. Credit: Center for American Progress/Ralph Alswang

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The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro has the scoop on one way the soon-to-be-former mayor of New York City will be spending his time:

Michael R. Bloomberg, determined to parlay his government experience and vast fortune into a kind of global mayoralty, is creating a high-powered consulting group to help him reshape cities around the world long after he leaves office. To build the new organization, paid for out of his own pocket, the billionaire mayor is taking much of his City Hall team with him: He has already hired many of his best-known and longest-serving deputies, promising them a chance to export the policies they developed in New York to far-flung places like Louisville, Ky., and Mexico City.

Twelve years in office, an 8 million-plus pool of test subjects and an overflowing bucket of money have altogether helped make New York an active test bed for Bloomberg’s theories of governance. The mayor has taken to using “we” to talk about the future of his city. At an awards ceremony near City Hall last week, he said that he expected to spend the rest of his life in New York and — no parental pressure! — hopes the same is true for his children. But he’s clearly ready to test out his theories elsewhere, as he has already done with, among other things, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, childhood obesity research at his eponymous public health school at Johns Hopkins University, and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ funding of “innovation delivery teams” in cities across the country.

Barbaro highlights other efforts that Bloomberg will likely focus on:

Above all, the new endeavor reflects a profound confidence — never in short supply with this mayor — that it would behoove dozens of municipalities to replicate the ideas that defined his tenure: turning busy roads into pedestrian plazas, posting calorie counts in fast-food chains, creating a customer-service hotline for citizens.

Bloomberg Associates, as the effort will be called, won’t charge cities, and there’s the suggestion that it will also act as a funder in the civic innovation space. As the mayor might say were this not his own endeavor, let’s see the evidence. Barbaro calls the group an “urban SWAT team,” but at the moment it’s fair to see the attention-getting shop as just one of the many things that Bloomberg and his circle will focus on in years to come. It will, Barbaro notes, operate out of the same majestic Upper East Side townhouse as Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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Nancy Scola is a Washington, DC-based journalist whose work tends to focus on the intersections of technology, politics, and public policy. Shortly after returning from Havana she started as a tech reporter at POLITICO.

Tags: new york citymayorsshared citymichael bloomberg

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