The concealed hand behind Bloomberg’s project

The concealed hand behind Bloomberg’s project

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his long time number two, Patti Harris.|Scott Wintrow/Getty Images

Only one person understands where Mike Bloomberg will be put to rest. And it’s not the billionaire himself.

Rather it’s Patti Harris, his longtime consigliere, who picked the precise place of his burial plot and make of his casket– she made all the plans.

That connection with the previous New York City mayor, who’s currently spent close to $100 million on a presidential bid he just announced 2 weeks earlier, marks her as possibly the most important staffer in the 2020 campaign that Washington insiders have never ever heard of.

Harris, a 64- year-old Manhattan native who stepped aside from her task running Bloomberg Philanthropies to chair his project, inhabits a main role in his effort to turn himself from a proudly nonpartisan business owner into an attractive choice for a Democratic Party that is increasingly splintered in between moderates and progressives.

Project supervisor Kevin Sheekey, whom Harris employed at Bloomberg LP in 1997, called her “the quiet force in everything that Mike has done.”

” I believe practically anything that Mike has actually carried out in the political or humanitarian sector you can trace its roots back somewhere to a Patti Harris origin,” he included.

Harris took a job at Bloomberg’s monetary news business in 1994, dealt with his very first New york city City mayoral campaign and oversaw much of his administration for 12 years as deputy mayor. Now, the inextricable function she plays in all facets of his life– politics, company, and philanthropy– will play out on a nationwide stage as campaign chair for his free-spending run for the Democratic election.

” I’ve been on a lot of projects and the thing that Patti does, that in my experience is unique, is that she sets an organizational culture that everyone comprehends and buys into,” said Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to the project who worked on Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election and Hillary Clinton’s presidential quote in2008


Unlike lots of political operatives, Harris actively prevents media attention: She has actually consistently denied interview demands, including one for this story.

But Bloomberg has credited her with introducing him to players in New york city’s heady world of arts and culture when he was an abundant businessman trying to broaden his network. “She polished him off,” is how one previous staffer described the kinship between the image-conscious Harris and a billionaire with a propensity toward the crude

She is accountable for bringing a popular art setup called The Gates to the city in 2005– drawing tourists from across the globe to Central Park to stroll through a lineup of 7,503 vinyl orange gates.

She safeguarded him in the face of accusations brought versus his business by ladies who said they were maltreated, informing author Eleanor Randolph that Bloomberg advised her to “make certain you make time for your kids” and provided “very family-friendly” advantages, according to her brand-new book, “The Numerous Lives of Michael Bloomberg.”

Randolph credits Harris with protecting him from his worst propensities.

” When she was not around, the mischievous old Mike might slip back into his old methods. Unclean jokes, the chuckles with the kids about how he would ‘do’ that particular woman ‘in a minute.’ Quickly that a person was shortened to just ‘in a minute,'” she composed. “Her look could peaceful even the ribald recommendations to the eel in the primary office fish tank.”

Harris’ influence reaches from the vital to the ordinary.

One previous city official remembered regularly seeing Harris bent down in the rotunda of New york city’s Town hall to change the positioning of rainy-day carpet covers.

” It so struck me– the first deputy mayor was out there aligning rubber mats, or rain-runners or whatever,” stated the ex-official, who would just speak on background and not for attribution. “For me, that summarize her function in his life: She keeps whatever he sees and cares about completely in line.”

Another ex-aide, Chris Coffey, described the painstaking lengths she went to execute Bloomberg’s important that personal residents along Manhattan’s swank Fifth Avenue not board up their buildings with plywood each year during the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

After creating a manifest of each building, Harris and Coffey negotiated with them one by one, discussing how the physical barriers were deemed offending and providing the holdouts additional security. The night before the parade, the two drove up and down 5th Opportunity to do a last sweep, he said.

” Being loyal to her methods being faithful to Mike,” he stated. “They’re the very same in some respects– two halves of a coin.”

One former city staffer recalled her oversight of an annual memorial service for American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed in Queens in2001


The team working under Harris’ deputy, Nanette Smith, labored late into the night before the event, with some even charged with scraping gum off regional street lights to guarantee the site was flawless. They returned several hours later on to continue the task. (By contrast, Bloomberg’s successor, Expense de Blasio, was late to the occasion his very first year in office.)

Harris’ attention to information, displayed by a determination to involve herself in the minutiae of minutiae, belied the huge power she wielded.

As Town hall was preparing the first Sept. 11 event at Ground Zero during Bloomberg’s very first year in office, President George W. Bush’s group attended a meeting to state his choice: He wished to attend the memorial and would require metal detectors on site.

Harris declined. The mourning households had to be ensured smooth entry to the website, she insisted.

Eventually the White House team consented to have Bush attend the event at the Pentagon and satisfy privately with loved ones of those killed at the Lower Manhattan site of the felled towers.

” Everybody in the meeting was definitely stunned. When has anybody ever told the White House when the president of the United States can or can not go to?” said one person who was in that conference and would just speak on background.

Harris’ perch atop Bloomberg’s hierarchy is unlike that of garden-variety political advisors. She isn’t just associated with his political life, a space she shares with Sheekey and Wolfson. She manages his philanthropy, manages his relationships inside New york city’s world of arts and culture, and abides by seemingly every detail of keeping the fastidious Bloomberg brand name.

By the former mayor’s own admission, she is “the disciplinarian” and “the ethical standard,” according to Randolph’s book.

Bloomberg fulfilled Harris through a “shared acquaintance” and hired her in 1994 to oversee philanthropy, communications and government relations, Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said.

As she increased through the ranks in his Municipal government, she managed to stay in the background in a place where healthy egos were provided sufficient room to flourish.

” Sometimes you do not even understand if she’s in the space.

Harris, who sat several feet from Bloomberg during his 12 years in Municipal government, is understood to push back in private when she believes he is making a mistake. She urged him not to alter the law restricting mayors to two terms so that he might run for a third– an election he won by fewer than 5 points, despite outspending his opponent by more than 14- to-1– because many voters saw it as an imperious power grab.

But once he decided to run, versus the advice of all his closest assistants, she got on board.

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