Service of Changing Your Mind

November 5th, 2012

Categories: Changing Your Mind

Late Friday NYC Mayor Bloomberg changed his mind and cancelled the Marathon.

With devastation and death in Staten Island, the starting point of the New York City Marathon, and crucial police and rescue services needed there and elsewhere-not to speak of generators and fuel–few people understood why the Mayor declared that the show must go on.

One person I spoke with pointed out to me that we had the Marathon after September 11 and objected to it being cancelled.

Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro put it well when he observed that the Marathon can take place next week but his constituents couldn’t wait a week for help [and protection as many fear for the safety of their property not from the repercussions of the weather as much as from looters.]

Conjecture has it that the Mayor didn’t want to lose the $360 million in fees the city gets for hosting the event and all the tourist business out-of-towners bring. I could think of many ways for him to make up that money but that’s not the subject of this post.

I am glad he changed his mind thereby taking unnecessary strain off a city in stress. At the least city staff and the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] need to find places for thousands of NYC residents whose homes are gone or severely compromised. They have been in temporary shelters–public schools that opened today.

The Mayor isn’t the only one to change his mind. We attended an American Symphony Orchestra concert at Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts a few weeks ago and heard a lecture by Israeli composer Menachem Zur and a performance of his Tuba Concerto which he composed in 1992 and revised in 2008.

The program notes quoted Zur where he explains why he made changes in orchestration 16 years later: “The hope is that by doubling some solo sections with various instruments and timbres, the listener’s ear will refrain from adjusting to the distant sound of the large instrument, thereby accentuating the sense of contrast and drama inherent in this ‘dimension of proximity versus the dimension of distance,’ which becomes apparent when the soloist plays solo.”

There’s not a press release, speech, memo, proposal, activity report, blog post or comment that I don’t change/improve until deadline. Many days I wish there was more time and another opportunity but there’s not. Most of us can’t revisit what we’ve decided, composed, written or even voted for.

I admire those who have the opportunity to do so and, when they should, change their minds, especially under public scrutiny.

Can you think of times you, or the person in charge, changed their mind–or didn’t–and what the repercussions were?

6 Responses to “Service of Changing Your Mind”

  1. Mike Filmore Said:

    Thank goodness that his honor got the marathon right in the end, although I shudder to think how much his decision is going to cost us taxpayers in the end.

    You ask that we come up with a like example of mind changing.

    Mine is Chief Justice Roberts voting in favor of “Obama-care” being constitutional. (I can’t prove that he changed his mind on this, but that’s the scuttlebutt.) I believe he did us all a big favor, although I also believe “Obama-care” is nothing but one more open invitation for private insurance companies to plunder the citizenry for even more ill-gotten profits than they already make. This is why:

    The Supreme Court should not be deciding what kind of health care we are to have. The law may be lousy, but it is up to the new Congress and whomever the next President is to fix “Obama-care,” not the court. We will be voting for them tomorrow, not the justices.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Interesting example. So Justice Roberts surprised people with his vote–although he actually voted on something other than Obama-care.

    I fear that members of Congress are not interested in what’s best but what keeps them elected or keeps out the opponent. I sure wish that we’d see examples of congressmen and women who change their minds for the good of the country–i.e. negotiate. They did that at one time. What a concept and welcome change.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Bloomberg goofed. Cancelling the marathon may or may not have been a good idea, but last minute pulling the rug from under those who had planned on going, was worse than just plain bad. You don’t do that sort of thing to people who undoubtedly invested a great deal of money in travel and hotel fees. Damned lucky for him he’s leaving politics.

    As for last minute decisions, it’s usually luck of the draw. Some work, others flop.

  4. Martha Takayama Said:

    Over the years I have either wished that I followed my original instinct in a given matter, or regretted that I did not change my mind.

    I confess that I prefer to focus on the decisions of others, which also may be of greater significance.

    If my recollection is correct the greatest change of mind that has taken place in my lifetime was probably Brown v. Board of Education (1954) overseen by Chief Justice Earl Warren, which changed the country’s mind legally with respect to segregation.

    In general it is always positive for one to be able to admit one’s mistakes, and whenever possible to manifest change of mind without being afraid to admit error.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree that the Mayor caused a great deal of loss by waiting so long to cancel the Marathon but think that it would have been worse if he hadn’t cancelled the race. The city is still limping in places–people recoveirng from the shock of lost homes; phones not working; no heat or electricity–and last Sunday, transportation was sketchy and inefficient. For those who really needed to get somewhere, having their city’s scant resources directed towards a frivolous enterprise would have caused unnecessary anxiety.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I heard a spokesperson for NY metro area gas stations in a radio interview this morning and was impressed when he admitted he’d been wrong to criticize Gov. Christie. He’d originally thought that it was a horrible idea that the NJ Gov. enacted restrictions on gas purchases according to the odd or even last digit on their license plate. But it worked, he said.

    We have a terrible gas mess here with the NY Governor stating that we have a shortage and a Texas-based fuel pundit saying there is a lot about to arrive and this rep for the stations noting that there is plenty of gas, and that it is stuck at the distribution centers. I tend to believe this man because he was so comfortable to publicly admitt he was wrong. This is very unusual.

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