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New York's new mayor urges belt-tightening

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York City's new mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said Wednesday he was trying to be upfront in his inaugural address when he told New Yorkers to expect tough choices and sacrifices in the years ahead.

"I think things would be much worse if we just tried to sweep under the rug what everybody understands is a downturn in the economy that results in less [of a] tax base for New York City, and New York City being less able to do the things ... the way that it did before," Bloomberg said in an interview with CNN.

Bloomberg -- a political novice when he launched what was seen as an underdog campaign for mayor -- said his first priority is making sure "the streets are safe" and promoting business.

"Because if we don't keep jobs here and have people bring more jobs here, we're not going to have a tax base to do anything," the billionaire businessman-turned-politician said.

The 59-year-old Republican also cited education as a priority, saying he wants the mayor to be "in control of the school system," a goal that will likely set off a power struggle with the formidable New York City Board of Education.

During his Tuesday address, Bloomberg said he will be cutting his own staff by 20 percent and he challenged the borough presidents, city council and others to do the same.

"We've got to do more with less in this city," he said. "And I would never ask anybody to do anything that I'm not willing to do by myself."

Bloomberg promised a "big memorial" at the site of the former World Trade Center, but he said it had to be balanced "with economic activity for the future." About 3,000 people died as the center's Twin Towers collapsed after hijacked jets plowed into them on September 11.




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