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April 18, 2003 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-18

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Cover Story

NEW YORK GOLD from page 56

"I was impressed by how far he had taken the city's Olympic bid, especially since
no one thought the city had any chance. I like that he proved everyone wrong.
Going against conventional wisdom takes guts.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

him away to start a private company, now known as
Oak Hill Capital Partners.
Three major things happened over the next 14
years: He and Alisa started a family — they have
three children; he made a lot of money — so much,
in fact, that he now takes $1 a year from New York
City to be deputy mayor, a job that pays some of his
colleagues around $150,000; and, finally, he fell in
love with New York.
"I have a lot of friends from college who talk about
what an avowed hater of New York I used to be," he

He also was very careful to address what he knew
would be on everyone's mind: After Sept. 11, how
safe was New York? The answer, he told the USOC,
based on data from the FBI and NYPD, was that
New York is the safest large city in America.
Doctoroff is proud of the accomplishment, but it is
pride he shares with every member of his team. He is
quick to point out he hasn't done it alone.
He also likes to make sure people realize that even
though the bid calls for spending hundreds of mil-
lions of dollars, it's almost entirely based on dona-
tions, bonds and other forms of private funding. The

attest, he can be very persistent.
"He called me back a week later and asked, 'Why
not?' and I told him I was very happy with the busi-
ness I had built," says Doctoroff. "And then he called
me back a week later, and then he called me back
Finally, Leventhal convinced Doctoroff to sit down
with Bloomberg.
"I said I was happy to meet with him but not to get
his hopes up," Doctoroff says. "I figured it was a
chance for me to get the mayor on board for the
Olympics and it's him who ends up getting me on

Change Of Heart

"Well, let me tell you how liberating New York is. It
really should be seen as a model city for the rest of
the world. It's the world's second home, the place
where everyone, no matter where they are from, can
feel at home."
In July 1994, Doctoroff had a life-changing expe-
rience. And it came at New Jersey's Meadowlands
stadium., where Doctoroff and a friend had gone to
see a World Cup semifinal match between Bulgaria
and Italy.
"I wasn't a soccer fan, not that I disliked it," he
says. "I just never really paid any attention to the
sport. And, here we were in Jersey, seeing a game
between two countries most people in the area don't
spend a lot of time following, and I have never seen
anything like it. It had the most incredible, passion-
ate intensity. And it got me thinking."
It wasn't long after that the roll-up to the 1996
Summer Olympics in Atlanta started. If it could
work in Atlanta, Doctoroff thought, why not New
York? And he spent a lot of time formulating a plan.
"I was trying to figure out if the Olympics would
be a good thing and would New York have a chance
of winning," he says. "And the answers were yes and
For a long time, the only person who knew about
Doctoroff's idea was his wife. And as the Mike
Moran story indicates, he had reason to keep it to
himself for a while. Even after he firmly believed it
could work, it was rough going at the start.
"When I went to City Hall for the first time in
1996 to make a presentation to Mayor [Rudy]
Giuliani, I made a wrong turn and got lost," says
Doctoroff. "It was not a good sign."
As the decision last November by the United States
Olympic Committee to make New York their candi-
date for the 2012 Games shows, it was a bad sign
overcome and a huge victory for Doctoroff.
Across the board, members of the USOC lavished
praise on the bid he assembled. Detailed in a 600-
page book, New York's bid seemed to have considered
every possible question: From where badminton
would be played to where the athletes would sleep to
how reporters from all over the world would file their

Doctoroff far
left, watches as
Mayor Michael
R. BI00172berg
announces a task
force to redevelop
Staten Island's

city's exposure, he says, will be minimal.
And once the Olympics are gone, all the building
— from an improved subway system to a new stadi-
um and new housing — will be available for future
generations of New Yorkers.

Recruiting War

Doctoroff didn't want to be a deputy mayor. "Nat
Leventhal was heading the transition committee for
Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg and he told me he
thought I would be perfect for the job and I told him
plain and simple that I wasn't interested," Doctoroff
"It's not that I had anything against the mayor. I
knew him through what we were doing at NYC2012
and he had been very helpful. It's just something I
wasn't interested in doing."
But as anyone who knows Leventhal — a former

deputy mayor in the Ed Koch administration and a
longtime executive director of Lincoln Center — will

Mayor Bloomberg says in Doctoroff he sees a kin-
dred spirit. "I was impressed by how far he had taken
the city's Olympic bid, especially since no one
thought the city had any chance," says the mayor. "I
like that he proved everyone wrong. Going against
conventional wisdom takes guts."
Doctoroff attributes his persistence to his upbring-
ing. "My parents instilled in me the belief that if you
work hard enough and dream a little bit you can
accomplish pretty much anything," he says of his
mom, who passed away in 1999, and his father, who

died last year. "That's a pretty potent weapon to be
armed with."
And, he says, it's what New York is all about.
"For 400 years, people have been drawn to these
shores by the miracle of New York. There is no place
that is more of a meritocracy, a place where anyone
can pretty much succeed.
"It's a city with synagogues, mosques, and churches
all on the same street, and people from every country
living side by side. There is no other place like it." ❑

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