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The mystery hedge funder who never raised a billion for schools

A profile of Mayor Bloomberg in the New Yorker this week is nearly silent about schools, though they’re one of the mayor’s main campaign talking points. But there is this missive about an anonymous hedge fund manager.

We’ll treat you to dinner if you can guess who this person is:

He tells stories that give a sense of unfiltered access to the back channels of power: say, about how it finally dawned on Bill Harrison, the former chairman of J. P. Morgan Chase, that he was retired (“He went downstairs, got in the back seat of his car, and it didn’t move”); or about the self-important hedge-fund guy who once approached Bloomberg and Joel Klein with “great news” about a plan that he and his friends had conceived (“They were going to raise a billion dollars to fix public education. When I told him our annual budget’s twenty billion . . .”).

The bulk of the piece is devoted to Bloomberg’s search for a third term and the various ethical and political hurdles he’s overcome to have the chance to run, but writer Ben McGrath does dip into the mayor’s frustration with the state Senate’s handling of the city’s schools.

Reading into the actions of the “renegade faction of Democratic senators”, McGrath sees a collection of “Albany bozos” motivated by a personal dislike of the mayor, not an ideological divide over education. Referring to the series of press conferences and staged protests that followed the June coup in the Senate, he writes:

For a few weeks, the senators had their fun, but they eventually relented. No one really wanted to return to the days of decentralization and runaway local school boards—they just wanted to see the Mayor sweat. The Albany bozos, as unlikely a Greek chorus as you could imagine, may have unwittingly been channelling the larger ambivalence of the general public. According to polls, a majority of the city’s voters would prefer a new mayor but also believe the current one is the best available man for the job.

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