It was not clear at that point, in the early months of the final year of his first term, just how significant a figure Michael Bloomberg would be. Now we know that he's the most consequential mayor we've had since LaGuardia.
For anyone my age or younger, he's been New York's mayor for about a third of our lives, and for almost all our adult lives. And from our smoke-free bars to our gentrified neighborhoods, the stamp of the Bloomberg era will be detectable in the very fabric of New York for decades.
So, since City Limits closes out every year with a Top 10 list, and because a single list just won't do for our outgoing three-term leader, here are our top ten Top 10 lists about Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
None are exhaustive, and all can be quibbled with, but it's our take on New York's 108th mayor:
Ten Finest Moments
1) The Mosque Speech
The mayor faced down a difficult combination of genuine emotion and ugly sentiment in delivering a pitch-perfect defense of American pluralism.
2) After Sean Bell
Bloomberg's quick expression of alarm and sympathy was 180 degrees different from how his predecessor would have reacted.
3) Getting mayoral control of schools
Critics don't like how he's used it, but getting accountability for the system was a tremendous early victory.
4) The 2002 property tax hike
Deeply unpopular, but fiscally necessary. Bloomberg didn't blink.
5) Executive Order 41
Early in his mayoralty, he issued a policy limiting what city agencies (even the police) could ask or disclose about people's immigration status.
6) Supporting marriage equality
In 2011, more than a year before President Obama's conversion and two years before the big Supreme Court ruling, the mayor added his voice—in an unusually personal way—to a movement.
7) The gun investigations
Sending private investigators using hidden cameras into gun dealers and gun shows made him a pariah in NRA Country. What a badge of honor.
8) Keeping church and school separate
In an era of government deference to faith institutions, Bloomberg held the line against encroachment.
9) Struggling in Español
It's not my language, so it's easier for me to say, but the mayor's painfully bad pronunciation seemed to at least demonstrate an effort to communicate—clumsy, but more elbow-grease than many of us devote to bilingual New York.
10) Seeking the soda ban
Was it a big reach in terms of government intrusion? Yep. Was it right? Absolutely.
Ten Worst Fits of Pique
1) The tape recorder incident
Awkward. Very, very awkward.
2) Leak of the Scheindlin dossier
The mayor may have had nothing to do with this cynical effort to tarnish a federal jurist and undermine confidence in the courts, but he ought to have fired whoever did.
3) Saying homeless shelters are too nice
Let me go out on a limb and posit that sometimes it seems like the mayor is a little out of touch.
4) Bill de Blasio's campaign was "racist"
Not only was it dumb, it fueled de Blasio's pre-primary surge
5) Getting testy about the race to succeed him
What, were we supposed to pretend the election wasn't happening?
8) Not understanding what "maintain" means
At the mayor's Christmas party that year, he gave the reporter involved a personal "maintenance" kit. The press corps gave him a dictionary.
9) Refusing to discuss his weekend schedule
Being leader of the greatest city in the world means letting us know where you are.