New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is having a difficult transition from candidate to mayor. First it was the use of a snowstorm for a shoveling photo-op, then it was the “confused” officials speaking anonymously out of City Hall. Today, it’s the New York Post‘s Michael Goodwin demanding de Blasio stop campaigning and get to work.
Goodwin notes that de Blasio is approaching governing the city combatively, even within the Democratic Party. Of course, once you win the election, there is no opponent, so Goodwin suggests that de Blasio is fabricating one out of Albany, using his universal pre-K campaign push to force a head-on collision with Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo has supported the idea of providing a universal pre-Kindergarten program for the entire state – not just New York City – but has proposed an alternative to de Blasio’s plan. While de Blasio insists on raising the taxes of New York City residents that make over $500,000 a year, Cuomo and other prominent Democrats have rejected the tax increase and developed a plan that would render it unnecessary. This has done nothing to deter de Blasio.
Goodwin likens this to de Blasio “setting up barricades and digging foxholes for a showdown” in which he has little to gain and plenty to lose – “Albany never forgets an insult.” The laser focus on one grade of school, pre-kindergarten, also betrays the sounds of alarm from de Blasio’s administration that the entire school system is crumbling. Instead of working to overhaul the school districts to help children currently in school, Goodwin argues that “all he wants to do is squeeze charters, as though that will help everybody else. It won’t help anybody.” De Blasio has already called for a moratorium on opening charter schools in the city.
The issue to Goodwin is that de Blasio has been campaigning for this job for so long that he can’t stop doing so. He jokes that de Blasio’s State of the City address was devoid of substance and full of unintentional whimsy: “Apparently meant to convey seriousness, the theatrical emphasis conveys just the opposite. The only thing missing was an upside-down smiley face and LOL!” In the speech, de Blasio called for ID cards for illegal immigrants, raising taxes, and a number of pipe dream ideas like an “Entrepreneurship fund” without any logistics provided.
Goodwin’s column is not the first time concerns on the part of Democrats have surfaced that de Blasio is not doing enough to run the city and too much to garner headlines. One Democrat tells Goodwin that de Blasio appears to lack a “governing agenda,” and his campaign is so progressive Democrats are worried that the mayor will “scare the hell out of the business community and chase them to Florida.” The concern echoes those of staffers speaking to Politicker last week, who said they were being given no specifics on how to do their jobs, instead being told to “be progressive” with no explanation.
Publicly, de Blasio has ensured that his name appears in headlines having little if anything to do with his job. De Blasio made a public statement saying he would not attend the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade to support the city’s LGBT community. In full schoolmarm mode, de Blasio chided Vice President Joe Biden for likening LaGuardia Airport to a “third world country” and told Rep. Michael Grimm to apologize to the reporter he assaulted, despite not being present or at all related to either incident.
The mayor has a history of wanting his name in every headline, which has become the focal point of his mayorship, with policy taking a backseat to publicity. That sort of drive to generate headlines has many on the left, particularly those who voted for and are expecting progressive reforms, concerned that de Blasio simply won’t have time to reform anything while so busy with the limelight, and this narrative threatens to define his first term unless the mayor rights his ship sooner rather than later.