August 9, 2017Op-ed

The Huffington Post: Can Mike Bloomberg save American cities?

by Jerry Bowles

Local/ What Works Cities/ 2017/

Michael Bloomberg is on a mission to save American cities. In response to what he perceives to be a federal level abandonment of the urgent priorities of urban citizens—open government, rapid adaptation to new technology, health care, climate change, immigration, global commerce—the former three-term mayor of New York City and self-made billionaire is spending millions of dollars of his own money to promote “data- driven, evidence-based” decision making at the city government level.

Let’s call it a “Washington workaround” and stipulate up front that the diminutive but laser-focused Bloomberg is as close to the “anti-Trump” as you’re likely to get.

Through his Bloomberg Philanthropies charity, Bloomberg has launched a suite of charitable investments to help city governments innovate and better serve residents with technology. The latest of these is the American Cities Initiative, a $200-million investment to be made over the next three years. As part of this initiative, $17.5 million in grants and technical assistance will go to participating cities. Innovation experts will be deployed to assist the first 300 participating cities with one-day city hall training sessions, and much more.  Bloomberg said in a statement:

We are in the middle of a political era defined by Washington impotence, but as Washington has grown more dysfunctional, cities have begun to play a vital role in determining our nation’s reputation as a global superpower. The American Cities Initiative will incentivize and support the innovative efforts of those cities paving the way for America’s future.