- Bill de Blasio was New York City’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years. Six and a half years later, he’s no one’s choice.
- Leftist activists, Wall Street traders, conservative-leaning first responders – they all wish he’d just go away.
- He’s failed at every measure of leadership, empathy, and reform. He’s a lame duck. Just go already.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio tweetedSunday that he wanted “to make life a little easier for all of us,” so he’s suspending alternate-side parking in New York City for two weeks.
This is the mayoral version of a condescending pat on the head from a dad who missed your birthday party and wants to win forgiveness with a trip to the ice-cream store.
But it also demonstrates his obliviousness to the needs and fears of New Yorkers, most of whom don’t have a car to move across the street anyway.
A pandemic he gruesomely mismanaged has crippled the city’s economy and killed thousands of his constituents. An always-controversial police department with a union that declared “war” on him last year has been at times ignoring looters and beating up peaceful protesters. And for days he sent confoundingly mixed messages about the enforcement of the extraordinary six-day curfew he imposed.
On Monday, hundreds of people who self-identified as current and former City Hall staffers marched against de Blasio, who didn’t conduct his usual daily press conference at City Hall but rather at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn.
To make our lives a little easier, he should keep the alternate-side-parking rules (dictating which side of the street cars can park on to enable street cleaning), and simply resign.
The first Democratic mayor in 2 decades
Before he was loathed by just about every constituency in New York, Bill de Blasio was the great progressive hope.
In the bluest big city in one of the bluest states, de Blasio was amazingly the first Democrat to win City Hall since 1993, when David Dinkins lost reelection after one term to Rudy Giuliani.
Mike Bloomberg, then a Republican, succeeded Giuliani in 2002 and became an independent in 2007 (and, after leaving office, a Democrat in 2018). As mayor, the stop-and-frisk-loving, soft-drink-hating billionaire infuriated many citizens by getting the New York City Council to overturn voter-approved term limits, which he then reinstated after his reelection.
Violent-crime rates began dropping in New York (and the rest of the country) prior to 1993 and continued to drop to record lows last year. But Giuliani and Bloomberg in particular were adamantly opposed to efforts at increasing transparency and oversight on officer discipline.
Progressive New York was thirsting for a Democratic mayor, a true left-leaning liberal, to run the town after two decades of conservative crackdowns and pro-authority centrism.
De Blasio was the most left-leaning Democrat in a crowded primary field, which, thanks to Anthony Weiner’s second implosion, he ended up winning in a cake walk. The general election against Joe Lhota, a former Giuliani administration deputy mayor with little name recognition, was even easier.
De Blasio was poised to be a progressive populist hero: reforming the police, tackling income inequality, and cutting back on a style of policing that disproportionately affected low-income residents of colour.
Instead, he used political capital in a failed attempt to rid the city of horse-drawn carriages, went to war against charter schools (52% of nonwhite New York voters want an expansion of charter schools, compared with 32% of white New York voters), and presided over the New York City Police Department as it initiated a crackdown on the sale of loose cigarettes from which a direct line can be drawn to the death of Eric Garner at the hands of an NYPD officer on a Staten Island footpath in 2014.
One thing de Blasio has done is unite disparate elements from across the city – including leftist activists, Wall Street traders, conservative-leaning first responders, and both the rich and the poor – in wishing he’d just go away.
De Blasio is for no one
As the novel coronavirus spread throughout the US in February and March, de Blasio was telling New Yorkers to continue to go to bars, restaurants, and shows. In April, he told NPR he had no regrets about those statements, inexplicably offering: “I said that literally about a day before they were all about to be shut down.”
Even after much of the city began to shut down, de Blasio still went to work out at his preferred YMCA gym in Brooklyn, 12 miles from his mayoral residence in Gracie Mansion. While the mayor has taken a lot of heat for his long rides to the gym throughout his tenure, his visit to the gym at the start of the pandemic was called “inexcusable and reckless” by his longtime ally Rebecca Katz and “pathetic,” “self-involved,” and “inexcusable” by Jonathan Rosen, who’s been an adviser to the mayor.
Even after the gyms shut down, the mayor was violating city guidelines limiting nonessential travel and still taking trips to Prospect Park because he really likes the walking path. (Gracie Mansion literally sits on a riverfront park).
His petty fights with Gov. Andrew Cuomo are not entirely his fault, but they’re certainly not helpful to the city.
De Blasio is responsible, however, for his poor relationship with the city’s health department, which has been critical of his handling of the pandemic.
During the unrest over George Floyd’s killing, including the protests in New York against racism and police brutality, his performance has been an absolute fiasco.
First, there were several nights of looting. After de Blasio instituted an 8 p.m. curfew and gave contradictory information on how it would be enforced, police officers were arresting food-delivery workers. The police also continued to herd peaceful protesters in ways that practically guaranteed confrontations.
While some New Yorkers blame him for the looting that took place several nights last week, his seeming denial that the scores of videos of NYPD officers abusing protesters,journalists, and bystanders even exist has brought his mayoralty to a breaking point.
Help New York heal, and just resign already
Bill de Blasio has nothing to offer New Yorkers, his tenure as mayor is an abject failure, and he doesn’t appear to like the job or the city he serves.
Though it’s hard to believe it happened, he actually did run for president last year, which did no favours for an administration already known for its lack of attention to detail when it came to things like showing up on time and ensuring social-services programs were fully funded.
De Blasio’s continued presence as the chief executive is increasingly pointless. His endorsement of the next Democratic contender for City Hall would probably be more hurtful than helpful for that candidate. None of this is going to change in the next year and a half.
Per the line of succession, the mayoralty would go to the city’s public advocate, Jumaane Williams, who has been fiercely critical of the mayor and is a presumptive contender for the Democratic nomination in 2021. A snap election would have to be held this November, the winner of which would serve out the last year of de Blasio’s term, and then another election would take place in 2021.
It could take a generation or more for New York to properly heal from its ongoing catastrophes.
If de Blasio wants to offer a genuine token in the spirit of healing, he shouldn’t suspend parking rules – he should suspend his administration, permanently.
Mr. Mayor, we need something to look forward to. Please give this beleaguered city a break and resign immediately.