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A look back at Mayor Bloomberg's few failures

mayor bloomberg

mayor bloomberg Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Michael Bloomberg usually got his way while running this city.

He succeeded in mainstreaming policies once thought impossible: kicking cigarettes out of bars and restaurants; carving pedestrian space into Times Square and Herald Square; re-zoning large swaths of the city.

In the twilight of his administration, Bloomberg has been touting the gains in New Yorkers' health and pedestrian safety over the past 12 years, as well as the creation of new business hubs and more.

But there were times when New Yorkers, the courts or the state blocked Bloomberg’s ambitious plans.

Bruce Berg, a political science professor at Fordham University, said Bloomberg never let his policy setbacks jam up his vision for New York.

“I don't think he was affected, his administration was affected, by the failures,” Berg said. “They had other items of the agenda and when they lost something they just said ‘next.’”

Bloomberg spokesman Kamran Mumtaz said the mayor pushed “big, bold ideas” and that hizzoner was unafraid of failure.

The mayor’s willingness to “take on any challenge, and fearless approach, has led to a few swing and misses, but it’s also led to unmatched successes,” Mumtaz said.

These are some of the misses:

Taxi of Tomorrow
The city’s effort to get a newly designed “Taxi of Tomorrow” on the streets was run off the road by a judge in October. The vehicles that would make up the city’s taxi fleet were touted as state-of-the-art, but critics pointed out the lack of accessibility and hybrid technology. The administration appealed, but Bloomberg will not be around to see the case to the end.

Nonpartisan elections
To become mayor, Bloomberg left the Democratic Party in 2001 to avoid a crowded primary and jumped to the Republican Party, which had room for the billionaire media executive. Then he spent $7 million of his own money to get voters to embrace non-partisan elections in 2003. They rejected the proposal. Nonpartisan elections were debated again by the 2010 City Charter Review Commission, which declined to put the issue on the ballot again.

West Side Stadium
Bloomberg’s effort to develop the industrial land on Manhattan’s Far West Side into a bright residential and commercial neighborhood included a new football stadium for the Jets. The stadium was also a key part of the city’s effort in 2005 to attract the 2012 Olympics. Ultimately, state legislative leaders sacked the stadium proposal.

2012 Olympics
A month after a state panel rejected what was dubbed the “West Side Stadium,” the International Olympic Committee nixed New York City’s bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, picking London instead. Mitchell Moss, an NYU professor, argued in a 2011 paper that in losing the bid, New York City ultimately won because elements of the administration’s NYC2012 plan for the Olympics, such as the No. 7 train extension and the High Line, became reality.

Congestion pricing
Bloomberg's 2007 plan to charge vehicles to enter Manhattan’s central business district was touted as a way to clean the environment, reduce traffic and pay for transit improvements. But the idea needed approval from Albany and outerborough lawmakers mounted a strong opposition. Congestion pricing died in theAssembly when lawmakers failed to act in time to receive federal funding.

Midtown East rezoning
One last major Bloomberg administration rezoning plan was to allow new skyscrapers to be built in Midtown East. The administration argued the area would get modern office space and tax revenue for transit and pedestrian improvements in the Grand Central Terminal area. Last month, the proposal was shelved after failing to win support from Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents the area.

Kingsbridge Mall
Transforming an old armory in Kingsbridge, Bronx, into an ice sports center was Plan B for the property. Bloomberg's original vision was to the turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a mall developed by Related Companies. But the deal was stopped by the City Council over concerns about a living wage for the mall's employees.

Ban on large soda
Bloomberg’s public health crusade in 2012 took aim at large sugary drinks and sodas health officials blamed for obesity and diabetes. The plan to limit cups from delis, restaurants and theaters to 16 ounces was blocked by a judge. The state's highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, will hear Bloomberg's appeal, but only after his successor takes over.

Cathie Black
Bloomberg's search for the new schools chancellor in 2011 did not travel far to find Cathie Black, a Hearst Magazine exec without any teaching or educational experience. With her appointment troubled from the start, she resigned in April, 2011, after three months on the job and a few cringe-worthy public remarks.

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