London's new Conservative Party mayor, Boris Johnson, is promising to be as unconventional in his own way as his predecessor, Labor's eclectic Ken "Red Ken" Livingstone, 62, who had been mayor since the post was created in 2000.
Johnson is eying New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as something of a role model, particularly as a politician able to straddle conventional political dividing lines. Johnson, for instance, reportedly is interested in Bloomberg's experience in trying to overhaul the New York public school system.
The two are due to meet Friday, capping Johnson's first week in office, when Bloomberg is planning to visit London after an economic development conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Conservative Party officials, buoyed by last week's local elections that delivered a major setback to the Labor Party, are billing Bloomberg's visit as a further sign of the political swing toward the Tories.
Ironically, Livingstone was something of an inspiration to Bloomberg, who modeled his unsuccessful proposal for traffic congestion pricing on Livingstone's fee system implemented in London in 2003 as a method of reducing traffic jams and air pollution in the central city.