Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg admits interest in third-party 2016 run: report

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, rumored for weeks to be mulling a third-party 2016 run, admitted in an interview published Monday that he is “looking at all the options” when it comes to a presidential bid. “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg told The Financial Times, adding that the electorate deserved “a lot better” than its current slate of candidates. Bloomberg, when asked by the financial newspaper whether he was considering formally entering the race said he was “looking at all the options” and reportedly hinted he would have to begin applying to have his name listed on state ballots in March. FULL COVERAGE: THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION “I’m listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing,” he said. The interview marks the first time Bloomberg has publicly admitted his interest in a 2016 run. Last month news emerged that the three-term mayor had secretly commissioned a poll to see how he might fare as a third-party 2016 candidate. The billionaire New Yorker, appalled by the rise of GOP front-runner Donald Trump and the uncertainty of the Democratic presidential race, ordered advisers to assemble plans for an independent run funded with $1 billion of his own cash, sources told the Daily News last month. Sources familiar with Bloomberg’s thinking told The News he believed the Republicans were tracking too far to the right, and the Democrats too far to the left. 10 THINGS AMERICANS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MICHAEL BLOOMBERG If he ran, Bloomberg would mount a massive television campaign emphasizing his career as a successful, self-made businessman and the leader of a bipartisan administration in New York, the sources said. Rumblings of a potential White House run by Bloomberg have persisted since he left Continue Reading

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not run for President in 2016

Michael Bloomberg is sitting out the race for the White House - because he fears his candidacy would clear a path for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. The billionaire media mogul wrote in a scathing column that he couldn't stomach the idea that a third-party bid for the presidency could help elect one of the GOP front-runners. "As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz," Bloomberg wrote in an Op-Ed published Monday. "That is not a risk I can take in good conscience." Bloomberg went on to scorch the leading Republicans - casting them as zealots who would "weaken our unity and divide our country." Not surprisingly, the former mayor used his harshest language to denounce fellow tycoon Trump. "I have known Mr. Trump casually for many years, and we have always been on friendly terms. I even agreed to appear on 'The Apprentice' - twice," Bloomberg wrote in a column for Bloomberg View. "But he has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people's prejudices and fears. Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, appealed to our 'better angels.' Trump appeals to our worst impulses." Bloomberg ticked off a string of Trump's most repugnant views - including his threat to bar Muslims from entering the country, his promise to deport millions of Mexicans and his pretending to know nothing about David Duke, the white supremacist whose support he initially refused to disavow. "These moves would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world," Bloomberg wrote. "The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk." Cruz's views, Bloomberg wrote, are nearly as offensive. "Sen. Cruz's pandering on immigration may lack Trump's rhetorical excess, but it is no less Continue Reading

Colorado lawmakers reject former mayor Michael Bloomberg for making inaccurate comments about the state

WASHINGTON - Former Mayor Bloomberg’s on the road to political ruin as far as Colorado residents are concerned. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bloomberg, who funds a leading gun control group, tried to play down a successful effort by pro-gun advocates to recall Colorado state senators who voted for to toughen background check requirements for firearm purchases. "The NRA went after two or three state senators in a part of Colorado where I don't think there's roads," Bloomberg said. "It's as far rural as you can get." In fact, two recalled lawmakers came from Colorado Springs and Pueblo, two of the state's largest cities. The comment made Colorado the latest state where Bloomberg became a target for Republicans eager to link him to Democrats — and a punching bag for Democrats hoping to show independence from big government New York liberalism. GOP candidates in the Rocky Mountain state rushed to condemn Democrats for accepting Bloomberg’s support. Rep. Cory Gardner noted his opponent, Sen. Mark Udall, received a campaign contribution from Bloomberg. Udall responded Thursday by urging Bloomberg to stay out of Colorado's affairs. "Not since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attacked Colorado's way of life has an east coaster gotten us so wrong," said Udall spokesman James Owens. "Christie and Bloomberg should stick to what they know best: traffic jams and tiny sodas.” The dustup follows other instances where Senate candidates around the country cast the ex-mayor as a rich elitist meddling in local affairs. They hope to make Bloomberg a liberal version of the billionaire Koch brothers, conservative donors who Democrats frequently attack. Republicans aim to motivate conservatives to vote in November by highlighting Bloomberg's views on gun laws in particular. "Hunters and firearm owners are a very well-informed voting bloc, and Continue Reading

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg facing fierce criticism for remarks comparing teachers union to the NRA

More than 50 local politicians have demanded that Mayor Bloomberg apologize to city teachers for comparing their union to the National Rifle Association. In a sternly worded letter released by the United Federation of Teachers Sunday, the elected officials, including all four major Democratic mayoral candidates, slammed Hizzoner for showing “astonishingly poor judgment.” “Coming three weeks after the senseless killings in Newtown, CT, such an offensive comparison not only vilifies New York City teachers, but also mocks the work they do every day to educate, uplift and protect our children,” the letter reads. GUN CONTROL-ADVOCATE MAYOR BLOOMBERG COMPARES TEACHERS UNION TO NRA Bloomberg blasted the union, a powerful player in city Democratic politics, on Friday for failing to agree to new teacher evaluations. The union — like various groups, including the NRA — had taken a position unpopular with its members, he argued. There was no sign Sunday that the mayor had any regret about his choice of words. CHRISTINE QUINN HITS BLOOMBERG OVER REMARKS COMPARING TEACHERS UNION TO NRA “As the mayor has said before, the union is a special interest group focused on advancing its agenda whether it’s in the public interest or not,” said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. “Their refusal to agree to a fair evaluation deal is just the latest example of this.” The mayoral candidates — Controller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Controller Bill Thompson — all signed the letter Sunday, as did City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who distanced herself from her usual ally and blasted the mayor’s remarks Saturday as “wrong and incorrect.” [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

As taxi drivers gear up for strike, Mayor Michael Bloomberg plays down threat

A group of New York City taxi drivers is threatening to go on strike Wednesday over new rules requiring all cabs to have GPS and touch-screen monitors that will let passengers pay by credit card. While playing down the likelihood of widespread disruption, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans Tuesday to institute group rides citywide, including from LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, if cabbies strike. Currently, drivers are allowed to pick up only one fare at a time. "Our expectation at the moment is that there will be very few, if any, taxi drivers striking tomorrow and the next day," Bloomberg said at a news conference. "I think cooler heads will prevail." The New York Taxi Workers Alliance is calling for drivers to go on strike for 48 hours beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday to protest a requirement that the city's more than 13,000 cabs have the high-tech equipment when they come up for inspection, starting Oct. 1. The alliance claims to represent about one-fifth of the Taxi & Limousine Commission's 44,000 licensed drivers. Some cabbies fear the video systems could be used to track drivers' movements and that drivers would get stuck paying hefty fees for credit card processing. "They are putting in all this stuff, and it's all bad," said Singh Kuldip of Jersey City, N.J., a native of India. "Well, the credit card stuff is good. But this GPS thing is bad. They will be tracking us all over." Several other drivers' groups that represent thousands of city cab drivers have released statements opposing the strike. Bloomberg said the group rides to the airports _ as well as other contingency plans encouraging people to use mass transit _ would go into effect after midnight Tuesday but would be canceled if the taxi commission determines that the labor action isn't having much impact. Under the plan, cab drivers would be encouraged to pick up more than one passenger going to and from Kennedy and LaGuardia from Manhattan. Passengers agreeing to that option Continue Reading

New York City public schools win top education prize

The nation's largest school system has won the country's top prize in public education that honors an urban district with the greatest student improvement and most success reducing achievement gaps among the poor and minorities. The New York City school system of 1 million students was awarded the largest share of the $1 million Broad Prize for Public Education, handed out annually by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. It will receive $500,000 in college scholarships for graduating high school seniors. Eli Broad (pronounced "brode") said in a statement that New York is "a model of successful urban school district reform." The four other finalist school districts each won $125,000 in scholarships. They are in Bridgeport, Conn., Long Beach, Calif., Miami-Dade County, Fla., and San Antonio. U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings joined philanthropist Broad in Washington Tuesday for the announcement. "We're privileged to have won," said schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who was in Washington for the event. "Obviously we have a lot of work ahead of us and we intend to do the hard work. ... At the same time, I think this is a moment to celebrate." A panel selected the finalists out of 100 districts, based on data compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a national education research consulting firm. To choose the winner, teams visited each finalist district last spring to interview administrators, observe classrooms and conduct focus groups with teachers and parents. Those research teams also talked to community leaders and union representatives. A nonpartisan jury of nine people from government, business, education and public service then reviewed the performance data and the information from site visits. The Broad Foundation said New York City, with its 1,450 schools, 80,000 teachers and annual budget of $17 billion, stood out for several reasons. On reading and math in all grades in 2006, it outperformed other districts in the state that Continue Reading

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg slams Andrew Cuomo’s decisions to expand casino gambling, reject hydrofracking

ALBANY - Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday broke his silence on New York politics Wednesday —ripping Gov. Cuomo's decisions to expand casino gambling and reject hydrofracking. Bloomberg, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, said banning fracking--a controversial form of natural gas drilling-- was “a misguided policy.” With tight regulation, the economic and health benefits of natural gas outweigh potential health dangers, Bloomberg said. "To keep coal-fired power plants in upstate New York and not frack doesn't make any sense at all.” Bloomberg--who had a frosty relationship with Cuomo--was even more acerbic about the governor’s successful push to begin state-sanctioned casino gambling upstate. “Our strategy in New York State seems to be to open gambling casinos so we can rip the lungs out of the poor to subsidize upstate real-estate developers," he said. "That doesn't help anyone in the area. I would certainly frack." Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi declined comment on the casino remark, but a Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman said the state’s review found “significant uncertainties” regarding fracking’s impact on health and the environment. Bloomberg’s comments came on the day he was awarded an honorary knighthood by the British government in a ceremony at the British embassy in Washington. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg launch anti-tobacco legal fund to aid developing countries

RICHMOND, Va. — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates are launching a fund to help low- and middle-income countries fight often long and expensive legal battles with the tobacco industry. The newly created Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund backed by $4 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was announced Wednesday at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In recent years countries including Uruguay and Australia have been engaged in legal battles with tobacco companies over laws requiring graphic health warning labels or standard packaging for cigarettes without logos. The companies claim the tobacco-control policies violate international trade agreements and World Trade Organization rules. Bloomberg said the fund will assist smaller, developing countries that often don't have the resources to compete with tobacco companies. "We think most of these countries will win these battles but they have to be able to afford some lawyers that have experience in litigating to win," Bloomberg said in a conference call with reporters. Officials said the fund is expected to grow as additional donors come on board. Lawyers and other experts will also be tapped for free or discounted work to maximize funding. Tobacco use kills more than 5 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. And the group says nearly 80 percent of the world's 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. "This is a public health issue that governments around the world are waking up to and it's a problem every place and every culture," said Bloomberg, a billionaire who made his fortune from the global financial data and media company that bears his name. "We don't think a government should have to choose between investing in its peoples' future or fighting lawsuits and we Continue Reading

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to donate $100M for Cornell Tech ‘Genius School’ campus on Roosevelt Island

It doesn’t take a genius to say yes to this gift. Ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg is donating $100 million to the new Cornell Tech “Genius School” to help fund construction for its upcoming Roosevelt Island campus, his office said. The huge donation for the school — one of the former mayor’s signature legacy projects — comes just as officials prepare to break ground on the 2-million square-foot campus under the Queensboro Bridge. In a rare joint appearance, Bloomberg and his successor Mayor de Blasio will both be at the groundbreaking Tuesday, the start of a massive construction project with the first phase expected to be completed by 2017. As a reward for his generosity, the school asked Bloomberg if he wanted to pick out the name for its first academic building, which will be designed by star architect Thom Mayne. Bloomberg chose “The Bloomberg Center in honor of Emma and Georgina” — a nod to his two daughters. “It’s very fitting,” said David Skorton, the long-time president of Cornell University who has worked with the former mayor from the beginning of the ambitious project. “The Bloomberg administration began the initiative and he’s been a big part of guiding us, and now he is contributing in such a generous way.” Also fitting is that the building bears the last name of the man who brought an open-air design to City Hall’s famous bullpen, where the mayor’s top deputies work. In a marked departure from most academic buildings, it will feature open-style seating — a hallmark of many tech offices — along with private work spaces. Cornell Tech — in partnership with Israel’s elite Technion university — won a competition under then Mayor Bloomberg in 2011 to open an applied sciences school, which gave it the exclusive right to the city-owned Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Lawyer who once advised former Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes bizarre statements to dodge jury duty

A veteran lawyer who served as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s adviser on judicial appointments and justice issues tried to weasel his way off a jury in a bid the presiding judge called “unbelievable” and “aggressive,” the Daily News has learned. In a bizarre exchange that ultimately got him tossed from the 2014 assault case, John Feinblatt insisted his experience as a lawyer colored his thoughts on the defendant’s guilt — but he refused to say why during the April 23 exchange in Manhattan Supreme Court. “I have a very clear impression of the case,” said Feinblatt, 64, who now serves as the head of Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, a group dedicated to getting firearms off the street. “I feel like I have very clear impressions of both attorneys in the case.” He added he was “predisposed thinking one way about the case.” Feinblatt and the rest of the jury pool were given basic details about the case against Joseph Esposito, a 36-year-old homeless man charged with sucker-punching a commuter at the Grand Central subway station in February 2014. Esposito was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor assault but acquitted of a felony after a remarkably brief two-day trial. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser, befuddled by Feinblatt’s stance during jury selection, pressed him on details and asked if his background made him biased and if he was “upset” at being brought back to the case after she sent his panel back to a central jury room hours earlier. “Look,” said a snippy Feinblatt. “It would be very difficult for me to be in any courtroom and not draw conclusions because I sort of know how ... I know a lot about how cases operate.” Esposito’s lawyer, Hershel Katz, snapped and said “shame on you” to Feinblatt for his claims. “Unbelievable, Continue Reading