Question: What has been your most surprising local political interaction in the U.S.?
John Bruton: Well, I suppose one of the most interesting conversations that I’ve had, I had very recently, and it was not so much the conversation as the situation in which it took place that surprised me. I visited Mayor Bloomberg, if you would call him a local politician. He’s the mayor of a city on an island. And there he was in a booth, on the phone surrounded by other people in booths on the phone. He has no office, and he does all his business surrounded by the people who may execute his decisions on his behalf and they all have eye contact with him, or potentially have eye contact with him all the time that he is in the office. And I couldn’t imagine any Prime Minister of a country running his country like that, and yet I was highly impressed by the way Mayor Bloomberg does things because he is personally accountable and personal accessible to those who must implement his decisions, and that shortens all of the bureaucratic paper trails that exist in governmental systems elsewhere for people that are exchanging memoranda and not replying to memoranda and decisions are taking weeks and months to be taken, whereas in the way that New York is run, there’s the possibility of decisions being taken visually the instant the problem arises. And that impressed me a lot.
Recorded on October 1, 2009