Mayors Meeting on Metropolis Matters
Mayors meetings on metropolis matters are becoming rather routine at the Paris City Hall. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (who likes to be known as ‘Mike’) spent Friday and today wining and dining in the ‘City of Light’ with city officials and business people. His primary purpose — to study the city’s success with its latest transportation initiatives to see how the ideas can fit into improving his own town, the ‘Big Apple.’
After (what surely must have been a sumptuous) lunch with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë today, the two stepped before the eagerly awaiting press, at the Hôtel de Ville, both French and American, to express their ideas of cooperation, exchanges of ideas and goals for the future of each of these great cities. Mayor Delanoë spoke briefly and eloquently as he usually does, but allowed ‘Mike’ to take more of the center stage.
He spoke of the similarities of the cities as well as the differences. They both joked that they had come to know one another during the race for the 2012 Olympics, their shared loss bringing them closer together. The cities share many of the same ills, such as poverty, immigration, terrorism, but one of their biggest concerns is environment. Pollution in New York, he said, is largely attributed to the buildings (80%), while in Paris, it is reversed — pollution comes more from transportation.
In studying the new “Vélib” public bike rental program, Bloomberg noted that his city could learn from it, but to incorporate such an idea into New York meant adjusting to the environment and culture. For example, there are not enough bike lanes yet in Manhattan, but they are working on improving that. In Paris, wearing helmets is not obligatory, but in the U.S. it is, and how would that interfere in the success of the system? They decided that even if all the ideas weren’t useful, then at least from them, others would arise, and be very different, but worthwhile.
Once the reporters asked a few questions to which he openly replied, we all followed them out to rue Lobau where there is a Vélib station. Conveniently, all the bikes were in their stations and there was a maintenance worker replacing a worn tire — it seemed almost like a staged footnote. Meanwhile, a representative of the mayor’s office explained to him how the system and the bikes work as we all looked on.
Bloomberg is a small-framed man that exemplifies the typical American success story. A self-made billionaire (ranked 34th by Forbes magazine in its list of 400 richest Americans in September 2006 and ranked 142nd in its list of the The World’s Billionaires in March 2007), born of Jewish Russian-Polish parents (as mine were) in Massachusetts, attended the finest colleges (Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School). He politically crossed lines twice, first to leave the Democratic Party to run on the Republican ballot in 2001, then left the Party to rejoin the Democrats this past June 2007.
Still, Bloomberg is just ‘one of us.’ He is reported to live in his own home (not Gracie Mansion), which is listed in the White Pages and is reported to ride to work (to City Hall) on the New York subway. When asked if he would ride a “Vélib,” he politely declined.
With all these great heads of great cities floating in and out of the Paris City Hall, it seems appropriate to mention that now’s your chance to cast your nominations for World Mayor 2007. The World Mayor Project is again looking for the most outstanding mayors of the year: mayors, who do not only improve the lives of their citizens on a daily basis but who have also
a vision for their cities beyond the next election as well as influence national and international debates on the role of cities in the 21st century. Above all, World Mayor is looking for mayors who fight for their citizens selflessly and courageously.
I cast my ballot today for my favorite Mayor. I bet you know who that is. Go ahead and cast yours. Click here: http://www.worldmayor.com/voting/voting2006.html
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Less than two weeks away…don’t waste another moment registering for the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference on Saturday, October 13, 2007. For more information or to register visit /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_Paris_Oct_2007/index.html
or email Schuyler Hoffman at [email protected]