Lexington Mayor-elect Jim Gray was in New York City Wednesday to meet New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and talk about management strategies and job creation.
Gray called Bloomberg's office about a month ago. "I called him up, asked if we could meet with him and see the operation of his office," Gray said Thursday. "I really wanted to see how the mayor, through good business practices, is running New York City." While in New York, Gray also stopped by Tiffany's to thank executives there for locating a manufacturing plant in Lexington.
Gray was not previously acquainted with Bloomberg, but he said he admired him as a successful businessman and mayor of the nation's largest city. Gray has been president and CEO of Gray Construction, a family construction business, for years.
"I said I want some tips on how he does things," Gray said. "I don't pretend to be the smartest kid on the block. I'm not a know-it-all. I want to learn."
The mayors met for about an hour in what Gray described as "a free-flowing conversation." The two talked about each city's budget challenges.
"New York's budget shortfall, percentage wise, is about the same as ours, only on a much larger scale and with many more employees," Gray said. "Mayor Bloomberg's got about 338,000 city employees; we've got 3,200."
And with their business backgrounds, they discussed how encouraging citizens' confidence in business is essential to the United States today, Gray said.
Gray was also interested in seeing Bloomberg's office layout where the mayor's desk sits in a large, open area, right beside his assistant and in full view of other employees. On a large TV screen, the city's performance measures, such as the number of 311 calls, scroll constantly.
In his campaign, Gray said he would re-locate the mayor's office from the 12th floor of the Government Center, where there are locks on the doors, to the first floor where he and his staff would be more visible and accessible.
Bloomberg's setup is "very efficient," Gray said. "People communicate very quickly and very efficiently."