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The limits to Mayor Bloomberg’s pragmatism

Mayor Bloomberg and his administration are often portrayed as pragmatists, as anti-politicians who simply want to get things done. But the mayor and his team are not perfectly apolitical.

This fact is highlighted in this week’s New York Observer, where Eliot Brown profiles Mark Page, the city’s budget director. Page, by Brown’s account, is so apolitical that he puts the rest of the administration to shame. (This is perhaps a result of his background: Unlike many Bloomberg officials, who left self-made corporate careers to enter politics, Page, the grandson of J.P. Morgan, was raised in wealth but has always been a bureaucrat.)


The mayor approaches budgetary decisions weighing a set of competing needs including approval ratings, the feelings of the Council and his legacy as a fiscal steward. Not so Mr. Page. He’s clearly not on an ego trip-he doesn’t want to get out there and be the darling of the press, said John Cape, the state budget director under Governor Pataki who dealt with Mr. Page in city and state budget skirmishes (with almost always no hard feelings at their conclusion, he noted). He really is a practitioner. He’s a scholar of New York City history, finances and politics, and he just wants to have people sort of leave him alone and do his job.