Since its founding in 1976, City Limits has covered seven mayors, but none has come to office promising so much attention to the issues we’re pledged to cover—affordable housing, homelessness, criminal justice reform, income inequality and so on—as Bill de Blasio. So in mid-December we teamed up with The Nation to cover the administration and its effort to implement a progressive vision for New York.
While the 100th day (April 10) is now upon us, our coverage of de Blasio’s mayoralty will continue. As always, we’ll focus on the complex, often overlooked stories that make up the larger narrative of New York.
For now, however, revisit the ups and downs of de Blasio’s first three months in office through the links below:
What’s at Stake in de Blasio’s Mayoralty? Just About Everything: Not only is de Blasio moving from the low-profile, low-power post of public advocate—a kind of civic watchdog unique to New York and invisible to many of its citizens—to the enormous challenge of managing a $70 billion budget and occupying the most intimately scrutinized elected position in America. He has to do all that with the hopes of the progressive movement on his back.
De Blasio Takes Agenda National—Because He Has To: Mayors of New York have long sought and often gained a national spotlight, from John Lindsay’s role investigating urban riots (before unsuccessfully running for president) to Rudy Giuliani’s reputation as crime-fighter (before unsuccessfully running for president) to Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun and pro-environment stances (he considered running for president but didn’t bother).
In Contest for Speaker, de Blasio Backs Progressive Caucus Member Melissa Mark-Viverito: The most important election that the voters don’t get to vote on—the selection of New York’s next City Council Speaker—is the consuming buzz in New York’s political world on Wednesday.
Bloomberg Warns de Blasio About ‘Labor-Electoral’ Complex: The complex the mayor is referring to is the sinister tendency of unions to support politicians who they like.
De Blasio Picks Another Insider for Child Welfare Chief: The pattern repeated itself Sunday with the appointment of Gladys Carrion to head the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, our child welfare agency, which investigates claims of child abuse and neglect, runs the local juvenile justice system and oversees childcare and other services. Carrion has headed ACS’s state counterpart, the Office of Children and Family Services, since early 2007.
Goldman Sachs Vet to Oversee Housing, Development Under de Blasio: Fans of Alicia Glen, however, say she’s not part of the “vampire squid” faction of Goldman’s operation.
Candor and Control: The Chiara de Blasio Video: De Blasio is not some airbrushed political chameleon. But the video released on Christmas Eve in which de Blasio’s daughter Chiara revealed her struggles with depression, alcohol and pot will only harden the impression that Blasio is more spin than substance.
De Blasio’s Managerial Inspiration: Mike Bloomberg? : On one hand, the manager-in-chief label sells the former mayor short: he was in many ways, from the rezonings to the school reforms to the health stuff, more visionary—whether we liked the vision or not—than a mere bean-counter. More importantly, the Bloomberg management record was sometimes distinctly un-crisp.
The Names: de Blasio and the Meaning of Diversity: If you’re thinking, gee, that kind of crude ethnic tally sounds like, well, a crude ethic tally, you’d be right. But what goes to the heart of the political obstacle facing Latinos in New York, is precisely that getting a token number of appointments will not be enough.
Bonus Question: What Does a Progressive School Policy Really Look Like? : Progressive voices in education cheered Carmen Fariña’s selection. The big question, of course, is what it will mean in practice, in the schools.
‘De Blasio Matters,’ and Now He’s Mayor: There are conventions in politics as dependable as the tides. For instance, once elected, a politician’s rhetoric shifts from the inspirational to the incremental, and after months of saying nasty things about their opponent, they make nice. Both tendencies aid and comfort the status quo. In the weeks since he was elected mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio has abided by neither custom.
De Blasio Inauguration: The Cautionary Clinton Tale: For progressives, there were a lot of inspiring things about Bill de Blasio’s formal swearing in as mayor on Wednesday: prayers that recognized the city’s incredible diversity, the dignity of Harry Belafonte, the power of poet Ramya Ramana, and the way all three citywide officials (the mayor, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer) so passionately articulated elements of the progressive agenda. Then there was President Clinton.
Will Tish James Back Bill de Blasio, or Shove Him? : In the forty-eight hours since the festivities on the City Hall patio, James has had to clarify remarks that seemed to suggest she was a source for the December New York Times series that profiled Coates, one of the city’s 20,000 homeless youth. And de Blasio has rebuffed suggestions that his swearing-in ceremony was over the top in its Bloomberg-hating.
NYC Speakerstakes: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Melissa? : The second-most-important election in this municipal campaign cycle has yet to occur—that’s the vote for City Council speaker, which has come down to a contest between two councilmembers from Manhattan: Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Dan Garodnick, who has the support of the press.
De Blasio Promised to Fight NYC’s Inequality. Here’s How You Can Tell If He’s Winning. : If Bill de Blasio had built his mayoral campaign around a promise to reduce crime, we’d simply tally up the number of murders, rapes, assaults and other offenses in a year or two to see whether he was succeeding or not. If he’d campaigned on a vow to improve schools, we could (with caution) look at test scores or graduation rates. As it turns out, de Blasio chose a bigger, more amorphous target: inequality.
City Council Progressives Now Have the Power to Share Power: You might see conservatives in New York City buying one-way, outbound LIRR tickets or double-barricading their doors this morning. Such is the panic in their ranks after the City Council on Wednesday elected East Harlem City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito to be its next speaker. “She’s in,” writes Andrea Peyser in the New York Post. “We’re toast.”
De Blasio’s Plan to Tax the Rich: Not ‘Dead on Arrival’ After All: Here it is fourteen days into the Bill de Blasio mayoralty, and we’re still talking about a tax plan that was supposedly “dead on arrival” even before the Democratic primary back in September.
De Blasio’s Vision: Zero Traffic Deaths: But in fiscal 2012, 21 percent more New Yorkers (291 of them) were killed in automobile accidents than were slain by bullets.
As Obama Talks Surveillance, What Are NYC’s Spies Up To? : In the foreground to President Obama’s major address today on his evolving sense of the boundary between legitimate national security and illegal surveillance, there came this week a reminder of New York City’s own surveillance state, in a press release from the city’s Law Department about the multimillion-dollar settlement struck with people who were arbitrarily arrested during demonstrations around the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Fighting Poverty Through Paid Sick Leave, de Blasio Opts for Impact Over Innovation: There is absolutely nothing innovative about paid sick leave, which most workers have enjoyed for their entire working life. And that’s the great thing about it.
Without a Dedicated Funding Stream, Cuomo’s Plan for Universal Pre-K Will Fall Short: The debate over whether Cuomo’s or Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision for pre-K (and afterschool programs) should prevail has been cast as a narrow question of whether the idea should be funded by the dedicated local tax on high earners that de Blasio wants, or through some other mechanism, as Cuomo has since October suggested as his preference.
Highlight Reel: de Blasio Addresses Nation’s Mayors: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s speech to this morning’s plenary session of the US Conference of Mayors didn’t break any new ground. He described a broad crisis of inequality, made his boilerplate pitch for universal pre-K and sick leave, lauded Fiorello LaGuardia and implored mayors to work together for their common interests in Washington, that the feds might step up on housing and infrastructure.
De Blasio Praises Israel, Quietly: But there was no mention on de Blasio’s public schedule yesterday of where the mayor was going to be after his speech to the Conference of Mayors. It turns out he spoke to a closed-door session of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Can de Blasio Make the Rent Less Damn High? : High and rising rent doesn’t cause income inequality—income does—but it’s what makes life truly difficult for people who aren’t rich, because it’s the biggest expense for almost all households.
Obama’s Speech and de Blasio’s Agenda: Mayor Bill de Blasio has talked a good deal about being part of a national effort on behalf of the nation’s cities to get the federal government to recommit to creating affordable housing and upgrading American infrastructure. Just last week he said President Obama “has long been a champion of our cities.” But if Obama did seem to ride—albeit in the shallow waters—the progressive wave that de Blasio’s victory augured, his focus was on popular, big-ticket issues like the minimum wage, healthcare and unemployment insurance.
De Blasio Agrees to a Landmark Stop-and-Frisk Settlement: The announcement was more epilogue than earthquake. The real end of stop-and-frisk as we knew it came months earlier.
De Blasio’s First Month: He’s Running Late, but He Meant What He Said: But although de Blasio and the city are still getting used to each other, some clear themes of the de Blasio era are emerging just thirty-four days into his mayoralty (one-third through the first 100 days, but who’s counting?):
Inequality Is a Crisis in New York, and de Blasio Needs to Treat It Like One: The lack of a sense of crisis around economic justice, at least in the mayor’s suite at City Hall, is one reason, Morris adds, “so much of the progressive urban policy over the past decade happened in other cities and then served as a model for people in New York and elsewhere in other cities to replicate.” San Francisco led the way on paid sick leave, Los Angeles broke ground on the living wage and community schools took root in Cincinnati.
De Blasio Won’t March in St. Patrick’s Parade, but Says Cops and Firefighters Can: “I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right,” he said.
In Her New Role, NYC’s First Lady Could Increase Transparency: If you didn’t like Bill de Blasio’s politics or personality, surely the fact that he clearly adores his wife Chirlane McCray would endear him to you a little bit, no? Their mutual affection was on display yesterday when the mayor named the first lady to chair the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a twenty-year-old nonprofit that’s legally and financially independent of city government but raises money to support public initiatives.
LGBT Officers Back de Blasio on St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The Gay Officers Action League on Friday released a statement on Mayor de Blasio’s decision to not march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan.
‘Right Now the System Works Very Well for Developers.’ Will de Blasio Update Zoning Policy? : Development defined Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty. Whether you think the former mayor revitalized a stagnating city with its work at Hudson Yards and the Brooklyn waterfront, or blasted a gentrification superhighway through places like Harlem and Greenpoint—or did some combination of both—Bloomberg’s approach to land use is central to your admiration or critique.
De Blasio Signals Break With Bloomberg Era in State of the City Speech: Last year, Michael Bloomberg’s final state of the city address fell on his birthday and took place in the gleaming Barclays Center, the NBA arena at the centerpiece of the controversial Atlantic Yards development project. There were banners hanging from the rafters celebrating the mayor’s accomplishments. The Nets dancers performed. A man waving a massive New York City flag led the mayor in.
Cuomo’s Bogus Logic vs. de Blasio’s Call for a Higher Wage: Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address last month ended in an E pluribus unum refrain: New York is upstate and downstate, Latino and black, Republican and Democrat, folders and wrappers, but, the governor said, “We are one … We are one.” The crowd ate it up.
De Blasio Blasts Bloomberg in Budget Talk: Bill de Blasio took steps both symbolic and substantive toward putting money behind his progressive agenda when he unveiled his preliminary 2015 budget on Wednesday.
Storm Brews for de Blasio Over Snow: Not only is his partner in government, the public advocate, calling for a review of school cancellation procedures. Not only is the New York City Parents Union taking issue with the decision not to call school today. Al Roker is Tweet-trashing Mayor Bill De Blasio’s handling of today’s snowstorm. Now that’s serious.
De Blasio’s NYPD Call Didn’t Necessarily Influence the Release of His Political Supporter: In case you missed it, this week saw the first mini-scandal of the de Blasio era.
De Blasio’s Pick of Wiley Means Practical Paths to Lofty Goals: There is a logic in a mayor’s picking trusted, Establishment-friendly hands to implement a progressive vision. But there’s also a need for a mayor to have people around him feeding him the kind of game-changing ideas that embody such a vision, and there have been some questions about who among de Blasio’s advisers would offer those ideas.
Life Just Got Better for Homeless Kids in New York: Life for homeless people in New York got better just a week into the de Blasio administration, as the new mayor restored an emergency provision that relaxed shelter entrance requirements when temps on the city’s streets dropped below freezing. Mayor Bloomberg, who in 2004 made a bold promise to dramatically reduce homelessness but pursued several hard-hearted and light-headed policies, had eliminated those “code blue” rules a year earlier.
De Blasio Skids. Time to Floor It! : De Blasio has often talked about political capital, and he came into office with a lot of it. But no one has an endless supply. And once people get the idea that you’re running out, even the political capital you have buys less.
At New York City Council, Progressive Era Begins With Rule Changes: For those of us who’ve seen the Council’s substantive work often reduced to caricature by tabloid editorial boards, who winced when the Council forever stained itself by extending term limits at Mayor Bloomberg’s command in 2008, and who want to see how this Council will strike the balance of being a partner of the mayor but not a puppet, it will be a fascinating process to watch.
That Wasn’t So Hard: NYC Expands Paid Sick Leave to 500,000 More People: The new version does away with all the half-measures and applies to firms with five or more workers. It also permits time off to care for a close relative who is sick.
Should de Blasio Bail Out Waterfront Homeowners? : The idea could braid together help for distressed homeowners, a way to more efficiently make New York more storm proof, a chance to rationalize development in the city’s fastest-growing borough and—perhaps—even a boost to de Blasio’s affordable housing plans.
Will New Leadership at NYC’s Social Service Agency Mean New Dignity for the Poor? : If I were reporting a story about social welfare programs in the city and wanted to talk to a source who could cite chapter and verse on how the de Blasio administration was or wasn’t fulfilling its moral and legal commitment to the poor, I’d call Steve Banks. That phone call will be awkward now, because Banks will be running that policy for the mayor.
De Blasio’s Cabinet Is Dominated by Lefties. Wait, Really? : What is definitely off-target is the notion, which the Times repeated Saturday but certainly didn’t invent, that “more managerial” appointees are somehow ideologically neutral.
De Blasio’s War on Charters Isn’t Much of a War: Overall, fourteen charter-school co-locations—including five Success Academy ones—got the green light.
Subway Arrests Are Up 300 Percent Under de Blasio and Bratton. Why? : Given that stops and arrests are down overall, and that crime is lower so far this year compared to last, what does the uptick in peddler/panhandler arrests mean?
Should de Blasio Have Taken Cuomo’s Deal on Universal Pre-K? : The argument for taking Cuomo’s offer of a “blank check” from state coffers is that it represented a huge concession by the governor during an election year and was probably the best de Blasio was going to get.
De Blasio Hails Crime Stats, but Should Beware Metrics Mania: But regardless of who gets credit or blame, it’s unwise to put too much weight on small changes in the crime rate, or on trends over a short period of time—because when the numbers turn in the other direction, the cheering will turn to panic.
Mayor de Blasio’s Message Problem: That was just one bad morning in what’s been a tough month for the mayor. What’s driving all the bad ink? Is it that de Blasio (or his team) is bad at communicating? Or is it that the press is treating him unfairly?
De Blasio Settles With 1,500 Minority FDNY Applicants in Discrimination Lawsuit: So ends one of the bitterest legal disputes of the Bloomberg era, in which a federal judge ruled that the city had intentionally discriminated against would-be firefighters on color, a ruling later tossed by an appeals court.
What Do de Blasio’s Lackluster Poll Numbers Really Tell Us? : Approval rates rise and approval rates fall. At this point in Mike Bloomberg’s first term, his approval rating was at 62 percent. Within fifteen months, he was at an ice-cold 32 percent. A couple years later he was re-elected by a large margin.
De Blasio Gets a Laugh and Defends His Choices on Charters: Few things are as endearing in a politician as a self-deprecating sense of humor. Do any of us recall a moment (OK, except for the evening of 9/11) when we felt warmly about then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he wasn’t in drag? It’s a struggle.
Protests Against Cuomo Are Good Sign for de Blasio: Am I insane? Or just stupid? I mean, everybody knows that the politician in New York who’s sinking in quicksand is the super-lefty mayor, not the carefully centrist governor, right?
De Blasio Administration Appoints NYPD Inspector General: The de Blasio administration’s naming of Eure (under the 2013 law creating the IG, the mayor’s commissioner of the Department of Investigations—not the mayor himself—made the appointment) brings us full circle from last spring. The moment when the 2013 mayoral campaign began to take its defining shape was when the debate over whether to install an inspector general broke into the open.
De Blasio Wins and Loses in Albany Budget Battle: Bill de Blasio got what he needed out of the state budget that was unveiled over the weekend: $300 million a year over five years to run a universal prekindergarten program that was the centerpiece of his mayoral campaign and that many skeptics said would never be funded.
Dude, de Blasio Should Totally Go the Informal Route This week, with the charter and budget battles fading, the mayor is trying to turn a corner and shed some of the formality that came with the office he took three months ago.
Next on the Progressive Agenda: Housing The first three months of the year revolved largely around the effort to get universal pre-kindergarten funded. That effort largely succeeded. Now what?
Poll Finds Jury Still Out on de Blasio About half of New Yorkers approve of Bill de Blasio’s performance so far in City Hall, but the new mayor has yet to prove his leadership in several areas, says a New York Times/Sienna College poll released today.
Allies and Skeptics Alike Want Details from de Blasio De Blasio’s election encompassed a deep yearning for real change and his inauguration triggered a shift in the governing approach that has dominated the city for years. That means there are very steep expectations and a long, long to-do list.
On Day 100, de Blasio Defines What His Mayoralty is About He’s spoken often about inequality, of course, but that’s an issue, not an ideal. He talked much about universal pre-kindergarten, but that’s a policy, not a way of thinking. Today, in a speech to a friendly audience of pols and advocates at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, de Blasio talked about what it really means to run a progressive government.