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Mayor Bloomberg speaks to IrishCentral Publisher Niall O'Dowd Photo by: Nuala Purcell

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's take on all things Irish

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Mayor Bloomberg speaks to IrishCentral Publisher Niall O'Dowd Photo by: Nuala Purcell

And I think the latter is true. The former is what advocates who want to send money want to believe, but that’s not the case. And so keeping with education, we have reduced by 50% the gap between between black and Latino kids and white and Asian kids.

And you can say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not black, I’m not Latino.’ Well, those kids are going to be the voters of tomorrow and they’re going to be the ones supporting Social Security, so you have a big public interest in improving the public schools of today. That’s one thing.

Continue to keep crime down. And during the Dinkins years, the murder rate got up to 2,200 a year. Now it’s down to 500. And Giuliani made some big strides. 

And we continued to diversify, tried to get us away from Wall Street, not that we don’t love Wall Street, but you want to have other industries. So we are a bigger fashion capital than Paris, we have double the number of fashion houses here. The media capital of the world. Getting to the information technology, biotech, right down the list.

If you keep improving the services, people will stay here. We are increasing the percentage of New Yorkers who are getting college educations, and the reason as much as anything is the immigrants. Immigrants that come here instead of anywhere else.

I was at a reception recently with a Haitian group, and they were bragging, ‘Isn’t it wonderful that in our hospitals there are a lot of Haitian doctors?’ And yes, that’s great, the trouble is that Haiti needs doctors desperately. It just tells you, people will go where they see opportunity, where the government is helpful.

Life expectancy in New York City is now greater than the country as a whole, and it has gone up 15 months in the last seven years. The papers will write about somebody getting killed, one person, that’ll be the headline story, but if you think about it, 15 months  is 1 1/3 years times 8.4 people – that’s an enormous number of man years that you have.

That comes from lower crime rate, lower murder rate, smoking cessation, bars on windows to keep kids from falling out, better response time by ambulances. We put GPS on ambulances, which cuts 30 seconds of the average response time, which is a big deal.

What’s your proudest achievement?              

My daughters. I have to say that! Well it is in all fairness.

I guess the schools, because if I told you coming into office you could reduce crime you’d say okay. I’d say maybe you could do it, I doubt you have the skills, but I could conceive it.

If I told you you were going to make big improvements in the schools system, you would have said no. Too big, too intractable. Unions, politics, kids coming from families where they don’t value education and that’s just the way it is, and so you have to come back to that.  

Ray (Kelly) has done a great job. They said, ‘Before you go make sure you have a list of everybody in your administration that’s Irish.’

But it’s not just the Irish, it’s everybody. It’s hard sometimes. If you had to pick one thing that Ray Kelly did to bring down crime, I would argue it was making sure that diversity of our police department reflects the diversity of the city.

It’s management, leadership, it’s all of those sort of things, but if the community thinks that you understand them, and if you do understand them, a lot of other stuff gets done. And you’d be fighting a lot of battles if you didn’t do that. So now somebody get killed and a tragedy, you don’t see people rushing to the streets.

Al Sharpton has been very stabilizing influence behind the scenes which is good, and Ray reaches out to him, I reach out to him. Some people say, ‘How can you talk to him?’ Because we need the help. I think out of that comes so many other things.

Same in Northern Ireland.

Yeah. And when you look at the big cities in America, it’s not. Inner city tends to be lots of minorities, and the police departments are not.  And I’ll show you how far we’ve come. The last class we swore in -- about 1,200 cops, and they were born in 58 different countries. But one of the most fascinating things? Not one from Ireland. A lot of Irish Americans but no Irish. That was as impressive as the 58 countries.

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