Who Can Best Manage a Big City?

Written by Tom Allon on . Posted in Dwell OTDT, News Our Town, News West Side Spirit, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, West Side Spirit.


Management style will play major factor in mayor’s race

New York has had its share of crises in the past decade – 9/11, the Wall Street financial crisis and then, of course, Superstorm Sandy.

Who leads the city during times of crisis – and relative calm – is important. And their ability and experience as a manager and leader is paramount.
When we pick the next mayor this fall, it’s important to focus on management skills and style.
Rudy Giuliani hired deputies and staff who were hard-charging, fiercely loyal and who were as determined as their boss to prove that New York was indeed a governable place.
Mike Bloomberg, who is much less a micromanager than Giuliani was, hired great people, and his strong leadership skills from building Bloomberg LP into a booming financial information company were proof that he could lead a city of eight million residents and a $42 billion budget.
And now we come to this year’s ever-growing crop of mayoral contenders: the good, the bad and the potentially ugly.
Let’s start with the leading Democratic contenders, none of whom have any impressive private sector management experience nor the hard-charging management style of a candidate like Giuliani.
Bill Thompson had a fairly strong run as Comptroller and has recently worked in the private sector. To many, however, his mild manner gives them pause. But in the current crop of candidates, his nuanced positions and lack of personal drama is a refreshing antidote to the reality show swirling around him.
Christine Quinn has a very mixed record as a leader. On the debit side of the ledger is the slush fund scandal and the term limits power grab. She also seems to have the personality of a vice president or deputy mayor, almost always following rather than leading (as evidenced by her relationship with Mayor Bloomberg).
To Quinn’s credit, however, she has managed an unruly legislative body for eight years, is not thought of as a pushover (except to her patron in City Hall) and has taken some unpopular stands (like supporting the East Side Marine Transfer Station).
Anthony Weiner has a pretty dubious reputation as a manager. A recent New York Times piece about him pointed out his revolving door staff and his confusing management style.
Bill de Blasio and John Liu have held citywide offices just long enough to leapfrog to a mayoral run and nothing in either of their resumes gives one confidence that their management skills can handle being the chief executive of a large metropolis. Liu, for example, couldn’t even run a clean fundraising campaign.
On the GOP side, management skills are much more evident. John Catsimatidis is a self-made billionaire (hey, does that sound familiar?) and has run a large chain of companies from supermarkets to oil refineries to aviation enterprises.
Joe Lhota, besides a stint as Giuliani’s deputy mayor, has been successful on Wall Street and as an executive at Madison Square Garden. But, like Quinn, he has to convince people he’s more than a VP type.
Who do you want making the tough decisions that lie ahead on public safety, education, labor contracts and infrastructure rebuilding – the pandering career politician or someone who has a firm backbone as a manager?
Tom Allon, the president of City and State, NY, is a former Liberal Party-backed candidate for Mayor.

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