- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

NEW YORK The administration of Mayor-elect Michael R. Bloomberg is beginning to take shape, and to many minds the cast of characters so far reflects a liberal's dream of diversity rather than a Republican view of the world.
Moreover, that's the way he wants it.
Mr. Bloomberg, 59, a lifelong Democrat who switched to the Republican Party shortly before he officially entered the mayor's race, seems to be acting out an admission he made during the campaign that he is a liberal.
The people he has appointed to his transition and advisory commissions bear that out. It is a virtual road map of inclusiveness that leaves out no representative of the city's brew of competing interests.
Mr. Bloomberg has appointed Raymond Kelly as police commissioner, a job the former Marine had held under Democratic Mayor David Dinkins.
He has named as his press spokesman Ed Skyler, former press aide to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. In the next few weeks Mr. Bloomberg is expected to appoint the deputy mayors and department commissioners.
"Is it liberal or conservative or moderate? It's all of those things," said Bill Cunningham, the mayor-elect's senior strategist, who said his boss' social philosophy is pro-gun-control, pro-choice and anti-death-penalty. "If you consider him as the leader of the Republicans in the five boroughs, it is now the philosophy of the Republican Party in New York City."
However, he is quick to add that Mr. Bloomberg is wedded to his campaign promise not to raise taxes, even in the face of the $4 billion deficit facing the city.
As a candidate, the Republican mayor-elect pledged repeatedly that if elected he would offer a job to Mr. Giuliani, whose endorsement was key to Mr. Bloomberg's election, and to top members of the Giuliani administration.
However, in recent weeks the billionaire businessman has made it clear that few members of Mr. Giuliani's team will be asked to stay on.
"I'm a believer in new people coming in with new ideas so I would expand the search a bit more than just blindly picking anybody," he said.
Mr. Cunningham said the Bloomberg administration was not out to "create fights," but wanted to adapt to the "extraordinary political situation of the city."
That includes the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was prominently pictured shaking hands with Mr. Bloomberg at a reception.
"One newspaper in the city acted as though he was with Osama bin Laden," Mr. Cunningham said. "The point is he'll talk to anybody, and if we disagree, we disagree."
Mr. Bloomberg is acutely aware of what he owes the Hispanic community, which gave him slightly less than half of its votes.
Late last month, he took a group of elected officials aboard his private jet and visited Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to meet relatives of those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens.
Asked about possible violation of conflict of interest laws, the mayor-elect's spokesman said it was a personal trip and Mr. Bloomberg was not in office until Jan. 1.
Imagining himself giving advice to Mr. Bloomberg, New-York-based Republican political consultant Jay Severin, said, "In the first few weeks, establish that I'm one of you a Democrat, doing and saying all the things a Democrat would routinely do to validate your identity."
Such positioning would stand Mr. Bloomberg in good stead with the minority community and labor unions, he added. "Otherwise they'll walk in the room thinking of him as a Republican, and he'll have two strikes against him."
John LeBoutillier, a former Long Island congressman and a conservative columnist, agreed, saying that "the real test for the new mayor will be the usual battle over the budget, and negotiations with the teachers and police unions."

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