Resilience and Political Leadership
One of the aspects of resilience that intrigues me is where the public sector leadership is likely to come from. In the immediate aftermath of H. Sandy, we have seen some encouraging statements and actions from Governors Cuomo and Christie and from Mayor Bloomberg. Obviously the superstorm provided a driving force, but other conditions must be in place for political action to occur. Here is an interesting take on Mayor Bloomberg’s possible motives:
Mayor Bloomberg focuses on Hurricane Sandy and gun control before singing his swan song; After donating millions in relief the NYC Mayor wants to see results before he gets nostaligic. (NY Daily News, Dec. 31, 2012.)
* * * Bloomberg spent nearly a week working to prepare the city for the superstorm. He directed the recovery, outlined an ambitious plan to protect the city from future hurricanes and took a lead role in lobbying Congress for help.
In his efforts on both Sandy and guns, Bloomberg’s vast wealth has given him more leverage in Congress.
He has donated millions of dollars to candidates and causes. This year alone, he set up a super political action committee and seeded it with more than $10 million to help elect moderates to Congress.
Making personal calls to lawmakers “is not something he does publicly, but it probably is one of the most important things that he can do because he is such a prominent figure as well as contributor in Washington,” said Kathryn Wylde of the Partnership for New York City, a business group.
Stu Loeser, Bloomberg’s former press secretary, said the fact that Bloomberg doesn’t have to worry about his reelection allows him to “swing for the fences.”
“He’s not looking for another job and he’s not going to run for any other office,” Loeser said. “So it allows him to . . . do things that you wouldn’t be able to do if you were being cautious or worried about offending someone or some group in the future.”
Too bad that those qualifications and conditions are so hard to replicate! But the takeaway point here point is that elected officials at high levels can, if they so decide, be effective “champions” of resilience actions. In my view they do not have to deal with the constraints that career public employees have – like restrictive authorizing legislation and program regulations.