Bill de Blasio is officially the 109th mayor of New York City. I say officially because, in reality, he’s New York’s first mayor.
The first mayor who doesn’t care about the city.
Not all his predecessors were above average, but de Blasio stands out for his indifference. Nothing makes him tick.
Gotham, the closest thing our nation has ever had to the shining city upon a hill, is in a sharp and obvious downward spiral. With dizzying speed, more than two decades of prosperity and public safety are crashing to a halt.
Persistent warnings that the bad old days were coming back were accurate, but in vain. The bad old days are here.
Violent crime is soaring, the homeless are everywhere, empty storefronts proliferate and people are fleeing neighborhoods that were safe six months ago.
And de Blasio shrugs.
A toddler get killed by stray gunfire and he says it’s “not acceptable.” For weeks, he blamed the rise in crime on the court system, then denied he said what he repeatedly said.
Now he blames the dramatic rise in murder and gunplay on the coronavirus and the weather, but says not to worry. He assured reporters the situation will “turn around” thanks to the police and because “summer will be over soon.”
He gets the worst possible press, his staff demonstrates against him and aides leave with a blast at his woeful work habits.
He rarely responds, apparently anesthetized to criticism. Even mockery doesn’t arouse him.
This could charitably be laid to a belief he marches to his own drummer. In truth, it’s because there’s no there there.
He’s so bad that critics have run out of words to describe how bad he is. A fellow city Democrat, Rep. Max Rose, was fuming during an interview about the mayor’s performance when he delivered an insult that will be hard to beat. De Blasio, Rose said, is the worst mayor “in the history of this great country.”
That’s not to say the mayor is dumb or devoid of ambition. Bored with his job but loving the limelight, he’s pivoting to a bread-and-circus approach.
Painting “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower is the kind of performance art that gets his juices flowing. Recall he once flew to the Mexican border to spotlight the detention of illegal immigrants, but was last seen outside a fence, arguing with a security guard.
Or the time he went to Iowa to campaign for Hillary Clinton, who wanted nothing to do with him. A year ago, during his own quixotic presidential bid, he drew 15 people to an Iowa event.
He could see more people than that on any New York street corner — except the mayor doesn’t walk around the city and talk to New Yorkers. Nor does he ride subways and buses. Businesses are dying by the thousands, but the mayor doesn’t publicly shop or encourage others to.
The other day, apropos of nothing, he said that “my advice to New Yorkers is don’t buy a car, cars are the past, the future is mass transit, biking, hiking.”
This is a guy who, pre-COVID, had his police drivers chauffeur him from his Manhattan home to his gym in Brooklyn.
But now he’s got that anti-car religion and pledges that “going forward, I will never buy a car again.”
Of course, even this is misleading. De Blasio didn’t buy the cars he rides in now, nor the one in his previous job, public advocate, where he used a city-owned car. So Detroit will not feel his personal boycott.
His latest play for attention is setting up checkpoints at bridges and tunnels to force travelers from most other states to obey a two-week quarantine. Gov. Andrew Cuomo first imposed the rule in late June, but de Blasio has apparently just now decided to enforce it. Those who break the rules could have to pony up $10,000.
“The important thing is the checkpoints are going to send a very important message that this quarantine law is serious,” he said, apparently serious.
The move is extra odd, given that coronavirus deaths have fallen sharply since the worst days of April and May. In fact, de Blasio’s sudden interest likely reflects only his desire to get out from under Cuomo’s shadow on the COVID front.
His timing on taxes is as bad as his timing on checkpoints. Cuomo is resisting tax hikes for fear it will give high earners another reason to quit the city and state permanently.
Not de Blasio. He wants tax hikes and doesn’t care if the rich never come back. “There’s a lot of New Yorkers who are wealthy who are true believers in New York City and will stand and fight with us, and some may be fair-weathered friends, but they will be replaced by others,” the mayor said.
Reality begs to disagree, with chunks of the middle class also fleeing. There was nothing subtle about a Friday New York Times headline. “Leaving New York: How to Choose the Right Suburb.”
The article accepted it as a given that a race to the exits is underway, and the Gray Lady was offering help for those who have decided to go.
The Post has been graphically revealing what is behind the flight. “Terrified & Angry on UWS,” read a Friday headline splashed over two pages. The story and vivid pictures revealed that de Blasio’s team moved vagrants, junkies and the mentally ill into three Upper West Side hotels, and the new neighbors are making themselves at home in parks and on the streets, much to the horror of area residents.
“Our community is terrified, angry and frightened,” Dr. Megan Martin, who helped organize a Facebook group of some 1,700 New Yorkers, told The Post.
Bess Fern, who is six months pregnant and the mother of a toddler daughter, told the paper in another report that she just put her apartment on the market.
“I have definitely seen more crime, drugs and harassment in one week than in my whole experience growing up here,” she said.
And Bill de Blasio shrugs.
Old Joe’s so stereotypical
First Joe Biden tells a black radio host that “you ain’t black” if you might vote for President Trump. Then he tells a Latino interviewer that Latinos are more diverse than African Americans.
The uproar persuades me he will name a black woman as his running mate. Given the mess he created, what choice does he have?
‘Fail-in’ ballot woe
Reader Sue Goldstein, after experience watching election workers, is terrified of universal mail-in voting. She writes: “The caliber of some individuals was questionable (addicts, alcoholics, young deadheads, older folks with dementia). A universal mail-in ballot will require more volunteers to handle the workload and that is scary, very scary.”