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The Power Dozen

There is Michael Bloomberg, and there is everybody else. Here’s everybody else.

When it comes to power in New York City, Michael Bloomberg is the only game in town—but that doesn’t mean there are no other players. We canvassed the city in an extensive if unscientific vetting process, culling the selections of dozens of businesspeople, politicians, and other assorted machers. The conception we worked with had a civic component—power was not simply the power, say, to buy an island. We had no mandate for a specific ethnic and gender composition, which is obvious from the results: The list is dispiritingly white and dispiritingly male—the old-boy network lives. The only woman, Anna Wintour, who was mentioned by many is in a stereotypically female profession. Kathy Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York City, was a candidate, but the consensus was that she was more of a connector and networker than a wielder of power in her own right. City Council speaker Christine Quinn was the choice of few: She was so damaged by the slush scandal of 2008 that the only place she was able to find political safety was in the mayor’s pocket. Many of the structures that used to help create a diverse cadre of leaders—unions, for instance—have lost influence in the last few years. Latino demographics are impressive but have yet to coalesce around a powerful new figure. The primary victory of John Liu as comptroller—likely the first Asian-American to be elected to a citywide office—is a sign of growing ethnic power that’s likely to change the city in years to come. But in the Age of Bloomberg, our panelists decreed these are the eleven others who matter most.

Illustration by Riccardo Vecchio  

Stephen Ross
WHO: Chairman and CEO
WHAT: Related Companies

The chief executive of Related Companies, Stephen Ross has been described as the real-estate industry’s last man standing. It’s more accurate to say he’s the only one sprinting ahead. While developers like Jerry Speyer and Bruce Ratner are running for cover, Ross is planning to form a bank to snap up distressed assets. A diverse national portfolio and tax credits from his affordable-housing empire have kept the cash flowing. He now controls $15 billion worth of residential, retail, and commercial properties across the country, including the flagship Time Warner Center in midtown Manhattan. “He shares the Bloomberg administration’s vision for New York: The city always moves forward. Despite the periodic declines, it’s destined to recover,” says Dan Doctoroff, the former deputy mayor for economic development, current president of Bloomberg L.P., and—not coincidentally—longtime friend of Ross’s. Bloomberg is counting on Ross to resuscitate its pre-bust ambition to develop the “last frontier” of Manhattan, the West Side rail yards, into a major business district


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