Monday, November 4, 2013
Back to the Future With New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Tomorrow is Coronation Day for Bill de Blasio as Mayor of New York City. I love New York. The streets are clean, the subways safe, crime has plummeted, and the museums incredible. I love the diversity of the neighborhoods. I love the accent. I love walking along Broadway and Fifth Avenue. I love the passageways of Grand Central Station, and driving through the PanAm/Met Life Building. I love my wife who grew up a few miles outside the city’s boundaries. Yes, I love New York and will take every opportunity to visit the City, even if it’s just to connect flights at Kennedy Airport. Maybe not in a year though. The media and polls have long proclaimed Bill de Blasio the overwhelming winner of tomorrow’s mayoral election. There is seemingly no need to hold an election tomorrow. After 20 years of Republican Mayors, the voters of New York City will elect the most progressive of all the Democratic primary candidates for Mayor. The voters have forgotten why they elected Rudolph Giuliani 20 years ago as Mayor. They have forgotten the treacherous subways, the crime infested streets, the squeegee men, the graffiti, the fiscal collapse, the fear of visiting the City, and an ineffectual Mayor David Dinkins. Of course they have. 20 years of prosperity can dim memories. So too is the reality that the median age of New York City voters is 35. In other words, half of the voters were only 15 when Mayor Giuliani assumed office. They don't remember the crime ridden, near bankrupt days of New York City. Bill de Blasio has romantic ideas of returning the to the progressive New York of decades ago, just as he still has romantic notions of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He worked with them 25 years ago. He recently said to the New York Times that the Sandinistas showed a “youthful energy and idealism mixed with a human ability and practicality that was really inspirational.” The Sandinista "practicality" included assassinations and executions, which de Blasio has ignored. He honeymooned in Cuba in 1991. He won the democratic primary not only as the most progressive of all the candidates, but as the most anti-Mayor Michael Bloomberg of the candidates. New Yorkers had become tired of Mayor Bloomberg in spite of his boosting the City’s economy. Bill de Blasio is the “Public Advocate” of New York City which fits his persona. He gave a pep talk at the Occupy Wall Street encampment. He has campaigned on the theme of a “Tale of Two Cities:” those who have and those who have not. In a different form he has campaigned against Mayor Bloomberg and his fellow 1%ters. He rails against the income inequality. He proposes to raise income taxes on those earning $500,000 or more to support universal full time pre-kindergarten and after-school programs for middle school children. He also wants to create 200,000 units of affordable housing, ignoring the lessons of past public housing projects. His class warfare rhetoric plays well with the 48% of New Yorkers who live in poverty. The demographics of the City have substantially changed in the 20 years since Rudolph Giuliani was elected Mayor. The 1990 census showed a white population of 43%. It had fallen to 33% in the 2010 census. New york City has always been a city of immigrants, even more so today. His pledge to end the effective law enforcement tactic of “Stop and Frisk’ is playing well with the “minorities” in New York City. The teachers unions love his contempt for the charter schools. New York City has a budget of $70 billion with 300,000 city workers. 147 city bargaining units are awaiting new contracts. They eagerly anticipate Mayor de Blasio, who has the potential to be as generous with them as Mayor Villaraigosa was with the Los Angeles public employee unions. New York City will once again become a progressive paradise, just like Detroit and the other progressive cities in bankruptcy or heading into bankruptcy.