The following remarks were delivered on November 17, 2019 at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY
“Thank you everyone, and good morning. It is great to be with all of you.
“As the Reverend said, I have spent many Sunday mornings here at CCC back when I was mayor. In fact – I never told my mother this – but over the years, I think I’ve spent more time in church than I have in temple.
“One of the best things about being mayor was having the chance to experience the city’s spectacular diversity: every faith and every philosophy, every neighborhood, every culture, and every type of food. I think I actually put on ten pounds during my campaigns.
“Actually, I loved every minute of it. And I worked morning, noon, and night to repay the public trust that they put in me.
“I think you know, I took that trust very seriously. And one of the first things I did after being elected Mayor was to reach out to faith leaders, particularly Reverend A. R. Bernard, who always gave me good advice. One time he told me, for example: ‘Mike, ban smoking in bars and restaurants – nobody will mind!’
“But seriously, I’ve always believed that any mayor’s most important responsibility is protecting people’s health – and protecting them from violence and danger. That’s why stopping gun violence has been one of the fights of my life. And this morning, I’d like to talk briefly about what I’ve learned along the way.
“Now, when I first came into office back on January 1st of 2002, a lot of people thought that gun violence in New York City had gone as low as it could go. But there were still 650 people being murdered every year back in 2001. Most of them were young, black and Latino men. I was not going to accept that – and I didn’t.
“At the same time, when I came into office, the relationship between the black community and the police was not good. And I was not going to accept that, either.
“I was determined to improve police-community relations while at the same time reducing crime even further. And – for a good long while – we did both, I’m happy to say.
“In fact, no other city in America did what we did – we reduced murders by 50 percent, reduced police shootings to historic lows, and reduced the number of people incarcerated by nearly 40 percent. We proved a city could do all of these three things – at once.
“If the skeptics had been right that crime was really at rock bottom, and if murders stayed at that same level and we had done nothing, then some 1,600 more people would have been killed while we were in office – and most of them would have been young people, with lives so full of promise, from black and Latino communities.
“So saving lives and taking illegal guns off the street, we came at the problem from every conceivable angle. We worked closely with community leaders, particularly Reverend Bernard. We reformed the juvenile justice system to help young people who made bad decisions get their lives back on track. And we created a program called the Young Men’s Initiative – to help at-risk black and Latino youth overcome the odds and succeed. It was the first program of its kind in the nation, and I’m happy to say President Obama built on its success by creating a similar program called My Brother’s Keeper.
“At the same time, I took the fight directly to the NRA. I helped organize a coalition of more than 1,000 Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and we went after the most irresponsible gun dealers across the country.
“Now, I didn’t come here this morning to toot our own horn because we didn’t get everything right. We did make mistakes – I made mistakes. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t made a mistake. The critical issue is whether you can admit it.
“Well, I think I can. And whenever something went wrong, I took responsibility – including if an innocent New Yorker was killed by police. In those rare but awful cases, I made a point of meeting with the family, I apologized, we held police officers accountable, and we worked to make sure that it never happened again.
“That approach helped rebuild a sense of mutual respect – and trust. And so did our commitment to hiring a more diverse police force – which meant that racial and ethnic minorities became the majority of all patrol officers, because I believe that police departments should look like the cities that they serve.
“After eight years in office, studies confirmed what was clear to me: black New Yorkers strongly supported the job the police department was doing. That was a real point of pride for me.
“But by my final year in office, support for the department had eroded. And the main reason was the practice of something called stop and frisk.
“Our focus was on saving lives. The fact is, far too many innocent people were being stopped while we tried to do that. The overwhelming majority of them were black and Latino. That may have included, I’m sorry to say, some of you here today. Perhaps yourself or your children, or your grandchildren, or your neighbors, or your relatives.
“I spoke with many of the innocent people affected, and listened to their frustrations and their anger. And as I said at the time, I’d be angry, too.
“So in 2012, in my third term, we began putting more safeguards in place, and we began scaling back the number of stops. As we did that, we noticed something important: crime did not go back up.
“So we began scaling the stops back faster – and further. And by the time I left office, we had cut stops by 94 percent.
“But because the number of stops of innocent people had been so high, resentment had built up, and we eroded what we had worked so hard to build: trust. Trust between police and communities. Trust between you and me.
“The erosion of trust bothered me – deeply. And it still bothers me. And I want to earn it back.
“After you leave office, you have a chance to reflect on what you did well, and what you could’ve done better. A lot of people tell you what you could’ve done better.
“Well, in recent months, as I’ve thought about my future, I’ve been thinking more about my past – and coming to terms with where I came up short. I talked about the issue of stops with people I know and respect from different communities: friends, civic leaders, educators, and staff members.
“I’ve always believed that leadership involves listening and reading and respecting diverse viewpoints, and acknowledging when you didn’t get them right. Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong.
“I got something important really wrong.
“I didn’t understand that back then, the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives – but as we know: good intentions aren’t good enough.
“Now, hindsight is 20-20. But as crime continued to come down as we reduced stops – and as it continued to come down during the next administration, to its credit – I now see that we could and should have acted sooner, and acted faster, to cut the stops.
“I wish we had – and I’m sorry that we didn’t.
“But I can’t change history. However today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong – and I am sorry.
“But I also want you to know that I am more committed than ever to ending gun violence, and to do it in equal partnership with the communities that are affected the most.
“I’m glad to say that the organization I helped create after leaving City Hall – Everytown for Gun Safety – has now some six million supporters. And in last year’s congressional elections, I supported candidates across the country who took strong positions on gun safety – and nearly all of them won. That allowed the Democrats to retake the House – and put gun safety back on the agenda, where it belongs.
“Now, I’ve never expected everyone to agree with me on every issue. Not even my mother agreed with me on every issue. But the causes that I am most passionate about – not just gun violence, but also education and public health and economic opportunity for all families – they’re all about righting wrongs that have fallen heaviest on poor and minority communities.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I promise you this: I will never stop working to end gun violence – to make every community across America safer and stronger, and to create a more just and equal society, for everyone.
“Thank you, God bless CCC, and God bless all of you.”
JUUL put itself on the ballot with Proposition C and voters overwhelmingly rejected it. Proposition C was designed to circumvent a San Francisco law enacted with the support of local residents and their elected officials, but the city stood so strongly in favor of kids’ health that JUUL was forced to drop out of its own campaign. The message is clear: kids’ health comes before tobacco industry profits. A majority of voters across the political spectrum in this city and nationwide support getting all flavored e-cigarettes off the shelves. I am proud to stand with this community and all others that support this goal.
Today, Michael R. Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s decision to begin formal withdrawal proceedings from the Paris Climate Agreement:
“Abandoning the Paris Agreement is an abdication of leadership that the vast majority of Americans oppose. Americans want action on climate change, and it’s up to the public to deliver what Washington won’t – and we are. Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting the thousands of cities, states, businesses, and organizations committed to helping the U.S. reach the goals we set under the Paris Agreement.
“Through our Beyond Carbon campaign, we’re working to move America to 100 percent clean energy as fast as possible and supporting elected leaders who will take bold climate actions to help us get there.
“We are also filling the funding gap for the UN climate office that was cut by the Trump Administration; quantifying U.S. progress towards the Paris Agreement through America’s Pledge; and for the third year, supporting a U.S. delegation and the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion at COP25 to highlight the progress the U.S. is making on climate change despite the lack of leadership in Washington.
“Looking ahead to 2020, the American people must elect leaders who will confront climate change and put the public’s health and safety first. Until then, we will continue to fight the climate crisis with the urgency required, city by city and state by state. We can’t afford to wait.”
It is now clear which automakers have learned the lessons of the past — American consumers reward automakers that offer better fuel efficiency — and which have not. Both GM and Chrysler required a government bailout and takeover during the Great Recession, in no small part because they failed to compete on fuel efficiency. And now they, along with Toyota, Mazda, and Mitsubishi are dragging their feet again, ignoring both market trends and the climate crisis. Ford, Honda, BMW of North America, and Volkswagen have all agreed to comply with the higher fuel efficiency standard adopted by California and other states. The short-sighted decision by some automakers to oppose them puts taxpayers on the hook once again, as climate change imposes major costs on both the economy and the public purse. I will continue to support the state attorneys general that are fighting to protect their citizens from the Trump Administration’s dereliction of duty on health and climate change.
Don’t be fooled, Juul’s announcement is both too little and too late. Juul’s decision to keep mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes on the shelves is a page right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook. Juul knows that nearly two-thirds of high school students who use e-cigarettes now use mint or menthol flavors, which is driving Juul’s bottom line. This is precisely why the FDA must honor its commitment to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the shelves as quickly as possible.
This op-ed originally appeared in The Washington Post on October 15, 2019
Over the course of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, candidates have been asked time and again to explain — often, in about 30 seconds — what they would do on a broad range of critically important issues, from climate change and gun violence to health care and taxes. And yet rarely are the candidates asked, and more rarely still do they talk about, how they would go about achieving their goals.
The president of the United States runs the executive branch, with its hundreds of agencies and 4 million employees. The job’s essential skills primarily involve leadership and management, not policy analysis. The country elects a commander in chief, and yet based on the campaign so far, one might think we are electing a legislator in chief — or a prime minister whose party controls a parliament.
In reality, the next president is likely to face a closely divided Congress. Winning passage of legislation, whatever its details, will require a mix of compromise and cajoling, horse-trading and arm-twisting, favor-granting and trust-building. Yet candidates speak as though the power of the bully pulpit will be sufficient to overcome opponents. It won’t, as recent history makes abundantly clear.
The fact is: A legislative proposal is only as good as the execution plan that accompanies it. And even the best plans must be flexible enough to accommodate necessary changes, to prevent the perfect from being the enemy of the good.
Candidates can promise the whole loaf. But executives need to figure out how to get at least half. Or as my old friend, former New York governor Mario Cuomo, often said: “You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose.”
The only time I’ve spoken with President Trump in recent years was in the weeks after the 2016 election, when he asked me for my advice on governing. I was blunt. I told him: You don’t know anything about government. Hire people who are smarter than you.
I didn’t say it to be insulting. I had been in a similar spot 15 years earlier. I spent my career in the private sector before being elected mayor of New York in 2001. After the election, I knew enough to know I didn’t know much, and I needed to hire experts to run city agencies, give them the freedom to innovate and hold them accountable for producing results. In both the public and private sector, micromanagement — and believing you are the expert on all things — provide the surest path to failure. Everything that our administration accomplished in New York over 12 years was a reflection of the people I was able to attract into those jobs.
The president did make a few good hires, such as retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis. But mostly he hired cronies, ideologues and sycophants, while also leaving hundreds of important senior level positions unfilled and paying less attention to many agencies than he does to cable TV news. It’s no wonder the administration has been defined by chaos, incompetence, corruption and — most recently — acts that have prompted an impeachment inquiry.
The tragedy is that all this stands in marked contrast to the important and impressive work that talented and dedicated federal employees do every day. Many are frustrated by the lack of leadership and support they receive, including those who have seen the administration attempt to undermine scientific integrity. And yet the overwhelming majority continue to do outstanding work.
On Wednesday, I will attend the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals gala in Washington, hosted by the staunchly nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, celebrating six federal employees who have made especially large contributions to the public good. One of them, Victoria Brahm, works at a Veterans Administration Medical Center in Tomah, Wis. The facility had formerly so overprescribed opioid painkillers that it was nicknamed “Candy Land.” Because of her work, the center has gone from being one of the worst in the country to one of the best. And use of opioids and other prescription painkillers among patients has declined by 67 percent.
With so much rancor in politics today, public servants such as Brahm remind us of the power of the federal government to do good — and the importance of electing people capable of leading and managing it. Yet none of the two dozen or so Democratic presidential candidates plan to attend the event. No president has ever attended.
It should not be too much to expect the nation’s chief executive to attend the nation’s premier event honoring federal employees. And if the Democratic candidates won’t commit to going next year, it says a lot about their understanding of what real leadership and strong management entails.
The presidential aspirants are not short on big ideas. But voters must demand they explain how they intend to move from proposing plans to actually implementing them, including passing them through Congress. Those who dodge the question by speaking of revolution and the bully pulpit aren’t up to the job.
Mike Bloomberg, as U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Change, announced his support for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’ initiative to stop the development of new coal-fired power plants after 2020. The following are his remarks as delivered at the Climate Action Summit for the 74th U.N. General Assembly in New York, New York on September 23, 2019.
“Let me start by thanking President Piñera of Chile and President Niinistö of Finland for their leadership on this issue. They are spearheading the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, which is also working to increase transparency around climate risk. And President Piñera’s leadership will be critical in the upcoming climate summit in Chile. That summit is an excellent opportunity to put today’s commitments today into action.
“Let me also thank President Trump for coming today to the United Nations. Hopefully our discussions here will be useful for you when you formulate climate policy.
“The most important thing that we can do is to phase out coal as fast as possible – and we are making progress. Since we started Beyond Coal in 2011, more than half United States’ coal plants have closed: 297 out of 530. Through Beyond Carbon, we’ll close every remaining one of those.
“Net-zero emissions is an ambitious but achievable goal – and non-state actors can lead the way. A growing number of U.S. cities, and states, and businesses have committed to reaching net-zero emissions. These states would by themselves form the world’s fourth-largest economy.
“The Secretary General has called for no new coal plants to be built after 2020. That would be an enormous step in the fight against climate change – and it would save a lot of lives.
“So today, Bloomberg Philanthropies is expanding our global coal work – with the aim of reaching the goal the Secretary General has called for: no new coal plants after 2020.
“We will work with countries around the world to accelerate plans for new clean energy projects. We’ll bring together public and private sector leaders to share technical expertise and help make the economic case for clean energy.
“We have a lot of work to do ahead – but there’s nothing we can’t achieve if all sectors of society work together. Thank you.”
The Trump administration is wrong on the waiver, wrong on the science, wrong on the market, and wrong on the politics. Whether or not they lose in the courtroom – and we will help fight them – they will lose in the court of public opinion and the marketplace. The American people are demanding cleaner vehicles and other actions that attack the climate crisis, and through Beyond Carbon, our foundation is working with mayors, governors, and business leaders across the country to deliver them. The auto industry – management and labor – have already decided; the future is clean transportation.
The FDA’s announcement that it will clear flavored e-cigarettes from the market’ is the right one, but words are not enough. This decision is long overdue – the timeline for action is yesterday, not tomorrow. The agency must now move quickly to adopt a flavor ban that is comprehensive and that takes effect immediately. And it’s up to us, the public, to hold them accountable – and I intend to do exactly that.
Any adult knows that if you want to get a child’s attention, there is no enticement like candy.
This currency of youth has become the weapon of choice for tobacco companies. They are making huge investments in nicotine-loaded e-cigarettes and selling them in a rainbow of sweet and fruity flavors like cotton candy, gummy bear, mango and mint. They’re turning millions of young people into addicted customers, all the while insisting that they aren’t targeting kids at all.
But we know Big Tobacco’s playbook. We’ve seen this before. It is targeting kids — and putting them in serious danger.
Federal health officials announced on Friday that vaping could be the cause of at least 450 possible cases of severe lung disease — with five confirmed deaths — in 33 states. Many of the affected people are teenagers. And on Monday, the Food and Drug Administration said that Juul, the leading e-cigarette company, has violated federal regulations in promoting its tobacco products as healthier than traditional cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people who use e-cigarettes should consider stopping and that children should not use e-cigarettes at all. Yet the number of young users is jarring. One in five high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018, an increase of 78 percent over 2017. E-cigarette use was up by nearly 50 percent among middle schoolers in the same period. More than three and a half million American children now use e-cigarettes, with 97 percent of users aged 12 to 17 choosing flavored products.
This is an urgent health crisis, and tobacco companies are behind it. They are major players in the e-cigarette market — including Altria, the tobacco giant and parent company of Marlboro, which paid roughly $13 billion for a stake in Juul. To those of us on the front lines of the fight against tobacco use, the tactics companies are employing to sell e-cigarettes — flavorings, unfounded health claims and the hiring of celebrity promoters — are all too familiar. They are the same strategies that tobacco companies have long used to get kids to try cigarettes.
There’s still much we don’t know about the connection between lung illness and vaping. But we do know that one Juul pod contains about as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, and that nicotine harms brain development.
Even worse, studies show that kids who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use real cigarettes. E-cigarette companies insist their goal is to help people quit smoking. But 13-year-olds don’t start using cotton-candy-flavored pods for Juul devices to kick a cigarette habit. Much more often, e-cigarettes lead kids directly to nicotine addiction.
Banning flavored e-cigarettes is the most important thing we can do to reduce use among young people. A number of cities have passed local bans, including San Francisco, which is home to Juul’s corporate headquarters. Last week, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
These are important steps, but we must act more boldly and quickly, starting with a national ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Each day that passes allows more children to be ensnared in Big Tobacco’s net.
The F.D.A. can ban flavors immediately, but it has repeatedly kicked the can down the road when it comes to taking serious steps. So on Tuesday, our organizations, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, are starting a national campaign — including an investment of $160 million to empower parents and kids and to push our leaders to act.
We come to this fight armed with data, evidence and experience — including wisdom learned passing policies during the Bloomberg administration in New York City and our nearly $1 billion global investment over the past decade to combat death and disease caused by tobacco products.
As part of our new campaign, we will help at least 20 cities and states pass laws banning all flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes. We will evaluate the impact of these rules on youth use and share lessons with other cities and states.
History shows that progress is possible. It wasn’t long ago that restaurants and offices were so full of toxic cigarette smoke that it was hard to see across the room. In the past decade, dozens of countries have passed policies that protect people from tobacco. Tobacco-product sales peaked in 2012; global sales of cigarettes then began declining for the first time since the dawn of the tobacco industry. In the United States, teenage smoking has fallen by nearly 70 percent since 2000.
The United States has helped lead the way in cutting tobacco use. We can do the same for e-cigarettes. But we must address this epidemic with the urgency and commitment it requires.
The tobacco industry knows how to run out the clock, how to deceive, how to entice young people, and how to sugarcoat its products, marketing and methods.
We’re not buying it, and we shouldn’t let America’s children get fooled into buying it either.
This op-ed originally published in The New York Times on September 10, 2019