It's now Mayor Bloomberg: New York City inaugurates Bloomberg as 108th mayor

Tuesday, January 1st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg was sworn in as mayor of New York City on Tuesday and issued a call for shared sacrifice to tackle the city's problems.

``To meet the challenges facing our city, we must work together to draw upon the energy, entrepreneurship and talent of all New Yorkers,'' Bloomberg said in a New Year's Day inaugural address. ``We are the toughest, most resilient and most determined people on the planet.

``Throughout our history, New Yorkers have made the sacrifices necessary to achieve a better tomorrow, and there will be a better tomorrow,'' he added.

The 59-year-old political novice enters office faced with three consecutive years of budget gaps greater than $3 billion, an underperforming 1.1-million student school system and a citizenry still jittery from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, subsequent anthrax attacks and countless false alarms.

Saying that New York would have to learn to make do with less, he announced a 20 percent cut in staffing at the mayor's office. Bloomberg then challenged the city council, the public advocate, the comptroller and the borough presidents to do the same, a proposal met with scattered boos from the politically connected audience outside City Hall.

``We cannot ask of others what we are not willing to do ourselves,'' Bloomberg declared.

Bloomberg took his third oath of office standing beside his 92-year-old mother, Charlotte, at City Hall on Tuesday. His first oath came before the city clerk Monday afternoon. He was also sworn in by the man he replaced, fellow Republican Rudolph Giuliani, in the middle of Times Square just minutes after the crystal ball dropped to signal the beginning of 2002.

The new mayor's task is made even more overwhelming because Bloomberg, who made his fortune on Wall Street and from Bloomberg L.P. _ the financial information company he founded _ has never before held public office.

In the noontime ceremony, a giant American flag unfurled behind the podium after Bloomberg stepped outside from the doors of City Hall to become the city's 108th mayor. Bloomberg wore an American flag pin on the lapel of his dark overcoat in the freezing weather.

To business owners, he said: ``This is no time to leave the Big Apple. Your future is New York. ... New York is safe, strong, open for business and ready to lead the world in the 21st century.''

More than 4,000 invited guests braved the weather for the inaugural, including Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer and former mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch.

Before the chief judge of New York State, Judith Kaye, administered the oath of office, Bette Midler sang the national anthem and several religious leaders offered prayers.

Bloomberg spent $69 million of his own money in his bid to succeed Giuliani. The two hugged after Bloomberg finished his midnight recitation.

Bloomberg told the noontime crowd: ``Last night in Times Square, when Rudy swore me in, he said to me, `Don't fail our people.' Rudy, I will not.''

For Giuliani, the inauguration marked the end of a topsy-turvy eight years that included an improved economy, a drastic drop in crime, racial controversies and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, which brought him widespread praise for his leadership. He could not run for a third term because of term limits.

When asked by reporters how he felt about leaving office with sky-high approval ratings, he quipped, ``I just better get out of here quick.''

Giuliani brushed off a question about whether he would marry Judith Nathan, whose relationship with him made tabloid headlines as his marriage to Donna Hanover crumbled.

``I'm going to do the best I can to keep my personal life as personal as possible, not that I've succeeded at that very well in the last eight years,'' he said.

He also announced plans for Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm that will have a strategic partnership with accounting firm Ernst & Young and will employ several of his top aides.