Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s Frenemies — New York Magazine
Bill de Blasio earned the little little bit of seaside time he’s having fun with this weekend in Puerto Rico. His three-year run to victory was a exceptional feat of political smarts and good luck. He offered his case with fashion and self-discipline, with one sensible TV advert starring his son and one million repetitions of the phrase “a tale of two cities”—which his marketing campaign strategists initially supposed as a placeholder till they got here up with a extra authentic slogan. They by no means did, and De Blasio made the Dickens work—one indication of how deft he was at seeing that voters needed a progressive corrective to 12 years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He rose from an obscure public workplace to handily defeat a better-known, extra skilled front-runner within the Democratic mayoral major after which gained the overall election by the most important open-seat margin ever. All very spectacular.
The reward is 4 years of nonstop complications that may make being mocked as a socialist by Joe Lhota seem to be blissful hour. There isn’t any scarcity of main issues on the horizon: a $2 billion metropolis finances deficit, greater than 100 municipal labor unions clamoring for raises, the necessity to preserve public security whereas easing up on cease and frisk. Those challenges will unfold slowly, and the women and men De Blasio hires for his administration will likely be essential to addressing them. But De Blasio will, in all cases, be the central decision-maker. And how he handles his relationships with two of New York’s prickliest political gamers deserves specific consideration—not simply due to the direct coverage implications, however due to what every drama will reveal about De Blasio’s possibilities to succeed as mayor.
The first, and by much more necessary, is with Governor Andrew Cuomo. A small trace of how fascinating the dynamic will likely be got here in September at a press convention on the steps of City Hall. The protocol at these rituals is fairly effectively established. The endorser introduces the endorsed—the candidate, the particular person the occasion is designed to spice up—who closes the press convention on a excessive word. Yet right here was De Blasio introducing Cuomo—the freshly minted Democratic nominee for mayor turning over the microphone and the highlight to the incumbent governor, who proceeded to offer a stem-winding speech that stole the present. It was a really odd talking order—and one which high aides to the 2 politicians, um, mentioned proper up till the final minute.
Cuomo and De Blasio are genuinely pleasant, almost the identical age, and have bonds going again twenty years. Their deepest day-to-day shared expertise got here when Cuomo, as HUD secretary, was De Blasio’s boss for 2 years, a pecking order that’s within the technique of being drastically altered. Cuomo will nonetheless outrank De Blasio, however the mayor of New York City has a extra highly effective pulpit than the governor of the state. To say that the political media is raring for fireworks is a laughable understatement. There will definitely be strains and flare-ups. But I believe the governor and the brand new mayor are going to shock and disappoint us by getting alongside famously—not least as a result of Cuomo sounds so desirous to make the connection work, each for each other and for New York. “A governor and a mayor, there’s a natural tension between the two. But there’s also a natural affinity,” the governor informed me. “We’ve gone through hell and back, Bill and I—in our personal lives, in our political lives, and together. And neither of us are going to let anything disrupt the fundamental relationship.”
De Blasio is equally effusive. “[Working for Cuomo at HUD] was a great learning experience, in that he had this tremendous ability to stay focused on his core agenda,” he informed me lately. “Andrew also understood the difference between working toward a goal and actually achieving the goal. We’re not graded on effort; we’re graded on results. So that was a very, very helpful time for me in understanding how to take a set of goals and get them to permeate an organization.” He sees the governor’s profitable first 12 months in workplace as one thing of a mannequin for what he’ll do as mayor, pointing specifically to Cuomo’s 2011 Medicaid-redesign fee as a “great template” for a way De Blasio will attempt to create at the least the looks of consensus on contentious points.
Still, the most important drive in maintaining the peace will likely be that each males have political incentives to operate as companions. De Blasio needs to ship on his marketing campaign rhetoric about reshaping the town right into a progressive capital; Cuomo needs to maintain his left flank coated to roll up a giant reelection margin in 2014—and simply in case the possibility to run for president in 2016 occurs to come up. So what looks like an inevitable collision might develop into a chance for each to attain factors. De Blasio wants Albany’s approval for a signature marketing campaign promise, elevating taxes on the rich to pay for common prekindergarten and expanded after-school packages; Cuomo says he’s all for beefing up schooling, however he’s decided to maintain reducing New York’s taxes. If De Blasio slogs by way of the Legislature attempting to win approval for the tax improve, solely to run right into a useless finish with Senate Republicans, Cuomo may give you another path to fund this system. Or Cuomo might persuade De Blasio to resolve the labor contracts earlier than pursuing the faculties thought. “They can sort this out,” a Democratic colleague says. “Unless Bill presses for a tax increase for the sake of a tax increase. That’s not a fight the governor would shy away from.” De Blasio informed me that he doesn’t see any various to elevating levies on the wealthy: “To me what’s quite obvious is that there is no other practical pathway.” But: “If new ideas emerge, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he mentioned. “I think, in terms of the larger debate we’ve had in this city, there’s no question that a lot of people in this town want to see folks who’ve done well give back to society. There’s no question about that. But this is ultimately a practical proposal.” And De Blasio and Cuomo are nothing if not sensible politicians.
On one other entrance, nevertheless, the brand new mayor appears able to go to struggle. De Blasio and Eva Moskowitz overlapped for 4 years within the City Council, and for probably the most half cordially, which is considerably uncommon, as a result of the hard-charging Moskowitz has a expertise for getting underneath individuals’s pores and skin. After leaving public workplace, she based Success Academy in Harlem; since 2006, it has grown to function 22 constitution colleges in 4 boroughs and racked up spectacular take a look at scores, in addition to a sequence of complaints that the faculties cull low-performing and special-ed college students. That’s made Moskowitz a lightning rod for constitution opponents, and through the Democratic major she was a handy goal for contenders attempting to endear themselves to the academics union, De Blasio amongst them. He proposed that charters already sharing house with typical colleges begin paying lease—however his assaults took on an unusually harsh private edge. “There’s no way in hell Eva Moskowitz should get free rent [for her schools], okay?” De Blasio mentioned at a discussion board in June. Even his allies discovered the vehemence a bit of onerous to determine. “I understand Bill’s points about income inequality, affordable housing, stop and frisk,” one Democrat says, “and how his critique of education reform fit into his anti-Bloomberg attack. But the charter-school stuff struck me as less genuine. Many of those schools are serving the poor kids he cares about.”
Indeed, De Blasio now says he’s prepared to be taught from the charters that work finest. “I think there are some charters that are doing a good job, that are representative, that provide a good model, and we’ll work with them,” he informed me. “But they will never replace the core capacity of our traditional public schools.”
Perhaps that’s what’s actually fueling his annoyance with Moskowitz. De Blasio’s foremost drawback with charters isn’t philosophical—it’s that they suck up a disproportionate quantity of political time and a spotlight. He’d moderately ignore the charter-school motion than kill it, and as a substitute dedicate his academic energies to enhancing the 90 % of the town’s colleges that aren’t charters. Yet one of many many issues that’s not clear about De Blasio as a frontrunner is whether or not he can separate enterprise from private. Bloomberg, as mayor, was usually in a position to scorn an adversary in the future and think about him an ally the subsequent. Moskowitz will present an intriguing take a look at case, as a result of she appears decided to goad De Blasio into backing up his marketing campaign rhetoric. In October, she led a save-the-charters protest march throughout the Brooklyn Bridge, and she or he isn’t backing off now. Wasn’t the Million Moskowitz March prematurely confrontational? “Bill de Blasio took on Success Academy very directly in his campaign and threatened our very existence,” she says. “To fulfill his campaign promise [about charging rent to charters] he would have to hurt the very children he genuinely wants to help. And that I want to help. I’m delighted that the mayor-elect cares about equality, because that means equality of funding, that means equality of space. And charter schools have been discriminated against in so many ways. And I’m not sure he’s aware of all those ways.”
Bill de Blasio has loads of causes to be mates with Andrew Cuomo and enemies with Eva Moskowitz. Finding a productive stability in these relationships, and in dozens of different conflicting pursuits, will likely be harder. But reaching that stability will decide whether or not De Blasio can go from righteous candidate to agile mayor—and truly carry New York’s two cities nearer collectively.
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