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Bloomberg: "you promise users everything, then you build what you can and what you think they need"

In a 10/4/11 article headlined Mayor, Not Recalling Much, Testifies in Consultant’s Trial, the New York Times captured a sequence which cast doubt on Mayor Mike Bloomberg's credibility--and suggested that he and developer Bruce Ratner share a penchant for making promises they can't keep.

Bloomberg testified last Monday in the trial of political consultant John Haggerty, who is charged with taking most of the $1.2 million the mayor donated to the Independence Party in 2009 for "ballot security"--either a way to ensure the integrity of the system or to deter some potential opposition voters.

The Times reported:
Perhaps the testiest exchanges came toward the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s testimony, when [defense lawyer] Mr. [Raymond] Castello tried to cite the mayor’s memoir to question his credibility.

Noting that Mr. Bloomberg had said that Mr. Haggerty “promised things that he did not do,” Mr. Castello asked, “Isn’t that what you regularly did at Salomon Brothers?”

“I beg your pardon?” the mayor responded, with an incredulous smile.

Then Mr. Castello, bringing out excerpts of “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” said, “Do you recall writing in your book that, "As I found out at Salomon, and again with the Bloomberg terminal, you promise users everything, then you build what you can and what you think they need" ?”
The line of question was objected to, and the judge agreed that the jury should disregard it.

As the screenshot at right indicates, Bloomberg was describing the difficulty in producing software systems.

However, the same pattern may apply to other aspects of his career.

The FCR parallel

Developer Forest City Ratner has a history of making promises regarding Atlantic Yards--say, all buildings designed by Frank Gehry, rooftop arena open space, 10,000 office jobs--that have long gone by the wayside.

In the film Battle for Brooklyn, as I wrote in my review, Bloomberg imperiously dismisses questions about the much-promoted Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), purported to guarantee affordable housing, local hiring, and minority contracting. “I would add something else that’s even more important,” the mayor declares. “You have Bruce Ratner’s word, and that should be enough.”

How, given Bloomberg's recognition that promises need not be kept, how could he, with a straight face, urge Brooklynites to accept Bruce Ratner's word?

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