Political observers rightly predicted that the tenure of progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would be marred by constant opposition from conservatives. What they did not predict is opposition from the political left. Now, liberal activists are blasting the mayor for putting together an insufficiently diverse city hall team.
The New York Post reports that a group of African-American ministers from Brooklyn protested before the steps of City Hall this week, insisting that de Blasio, who has a bi-racial family, has shown “utter disdain” for the black community in employing a majority white staff. Reverend Dennis Dillon, who led the protest group, also noted that his congregation had not been able to meet with the mayor “despite making 39 phone calls and writing three letters since January.” Rev. Dillon dismissed the one African-American appointment in the de Blasio administration as “insignificant” — the head of the new universal pre-Kindergarten program — and did not include Latinos in his count of minorities on staff because Latino is a “language designation,” not a race.
The New York Post noted that Marti Adams, de Blasio’s spokeswoman, attacked the complaints as borderline ridiculous. Adams herself is black, and she argued that minorities made up a higher percentage of the de Blasio administration than the population of New York City, and that “Mayor de Blasio’s appointments have made this, by far, the most diverse administration that the city has seen in decades.” According to a report by Newsday last week, Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the most prominent African-American city leaders, is a close friend to de Blasio and has an “open line of communication” with the mayor.
Mayor de Blasio, whose emphasis on progressive politics is so strident that reports have surfaced that staffers are struggling to do their jobs because they are not given specific governing plans, only told to “be progressive,” has seen opposition of all stripes surface on the political left. Mayor de Blasio’s insistence on banning horse-drawn carriages has turned unions against him, who see the horse carriage industry as indispensable labor for the working classes. Charter school opponents are suing City Hall, despite de Blasio’s attempts to shut charter schools down, for not working to close down charter schools fast enough. Charter school supporter Andrew Cuomo, himself the leader of the Democratic Party in New York, opposed de Blasio’s education policy, so that he gave an impassioned speech at an anti-de Blasio rally, vowing to work against the mayor.
In New York City, a city so liberal it voted for Bill de Blasio, less than half of residents approved of the job the mayor has been doing at the end of March.