Person of the Week: Michael Bloomberg

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Michael R. Bloomberg is sworn in as the 108th Mayor of the City of New York.

When Michael Bloomberg spoke outside City Hall Tuesday morning, hours after becoming the 108th mayor of New York City, he did not have the air of a self-made billionaire.

Instead, the media tycoon sounded more like a worried father, warning of fiscal hardships, urging his new constituents to tighten their belts and pledging to do the same. It wasn't all gloom and doom; Bloomberg did offer a hopeful note during his 14-minute speech. "We will rebuild, renew, and remain the capital of the free world," he told the gathered crowd. "Throughout our history, New Yorkers have always made the sacrifices to build a better tomorrow — and there will be a better tomorrow."

The official swearing-in ceremony took place New Year's Eve in Times Square, featuring a smiling Rudy Giuliani, who shook hands and waved as he presided over his final official duty. But while many thoughts may have been with the outgoing mayor, the night belonged to the incoming one — as did the following morning, when Bloomberg paid homage to his predecessor. "Last night in Times Square when Rudy swore me in, he said to me, 'Don't fail our people.' Rudy, I will not."

While a battered and economically bruised city waits anxiously to see where their new mayor will go with his newfound political clout, Bloomberg wasted no time flexing his muscles. Faced with a $4 billion deficit, the mayor announced he will cut his own staff by 20 percent, and has challenged other city agencies to follow his lead. He also issued a reminder to President Bush, warning that the city will expect Washington to follow through on its promise of $20 billion in aid.

Bloomberg took a rather unorthodox path to City Hall, spending more than $69 million of his own money to sweep aside Mark Green, the career politician and erstwhile frontrunner who finally couldn't keep up with his rival's cash flow — or his promises of economic recovery. Green was not on hand for Tuesday's festivities.