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Say What? Absentminded NYC Mayor Often Mangles His Words

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg called in to his weekly radio show Friday from a media conference out West, he could hardly contain his excitement as he described the beautiful mountains and weather out in "Salt Lake City, Idaho."

The problem, of course, is that there is no such place. Bloomberg was in Sun Valley, Idaho — and Salt Lake City is 300 miles away and in a different state.

One might blame the high altitude for fuzzing Bloomberg's brain, but his tongue trip in the mountains was not an isolated incident. It was just the latest on a long list of mayoral malapropisms that the Harvard-educated billionaire has coughed up during his six years in office, tormenting his staff and entertaining various observers and the City Hall press corps.

Just last month, superstar Jon Bon Jovi gently ribbed Bloomberg during a news conference after the mayor recalled a famous concert in Central Park as being performed by the duo "Simon and Garfinkle," butchering Art Garfunkel's name.

"Did I say that?" Bloomberg asked.

"Yes, you did," Bon Jovi said, laughing.

What else has he said?

He's been known to introduce former Yankee manager Joe Torre as "Joe Torres."

He once described Randall's Island in the East River near Manhattan as "Randolph Island."

When he recuses himself from decisions about city business that might present a conflict of interest with his personal company, he says he has decided to "recluse" himself.

And when he's trying to recall the name of another elected official, he often just takes a wild stab.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa are among his victims — Nickels once became "Nettles" and Villaraigosa's name has been transformed into various creative combinations.

New York City Councilwoman Letitia James, who goes by "Tish," is always greeted by the mayor as "Trish."

"He never gets it right," said James. "But he can call me whatever he wants as long as he provides resources to my district and addresses the needs of my constituents."

Bloomberg's aides usually just exchange knowing glances after one of their boss's public bungles. If it's particularly embarrassing, they bend over their BlackBerries and pretend not to have noticed.

Sometimes, the mayor's way with words has ended up being part of the story of the day.

In 2004, Bloomberg put on a cowboy hat and gathered some country music stars at City Hall to announce that the Country Music Association awards would be held in the unlikely location of Manhattan the following year, the first time the show had not been in Nashville in its nearly 40-year history.

But when Bloomberg referred to Shania Twain as "SHA-na-ga Twain" and Tim McGraw as "Tom McGraw," he became an automatic example for anyone looking to paint the big city as unfamiliar with the country music industry.

Bloomberg's spokesman Stu Loeser said Friday that the city's 8.2 million residents care more about actions than words.

"New Yorkers judge him by what he does, not what he says," he said.