Home MTA Politics Endorsement: Lhota, de Blasio lead a mediocre pack

Endorsement: Lhota, de Blasio lead a mediocre pack

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the past few months, as I’ve looked on with growing dismay at the field of mayoral candidates, readers have repeatedly asked if I planned on endorsing any of the candidates. It’s easier to assess why these mayoral hopefuls don’t deserve a vote than it is to explain why they do, but I’m going to endorse a pair of candidates today anyway based solely on their transit/transportation platforms. Despite some strong transit arguments in favor of some down-ballot Democratic candidates, Bill de Blasio gets my support in his primary, and in a thin GOP field, Joe Lhota should be the voters’ choice.

We’ll start with the Democrats as they present a wider array of candidates and significant overlap in positions. Here, I’ve found it easier to eliminate candidates than to support one, which speaks volumes about their various positions. John Liu, for instance, is still going on about two sets of books years after the state comptroller who initiated the charged wound up in jail and long after two New York state courts failed to find any substance to the charge. He’s also spent years claiming that the MTA doesn’t need more money to provide better transit service and that hundreds of thousands of student rides don’t add to the MTA’s costs.

Christine Quinn, meanwhile, led some pro-transit votes while in charge of the City Council, including a vote in favor of congestion pricing, but during the campaign, her ideas have seem half-baked at best. She wants city control of the MTA but doesn’t seem to understand the costs associated with such a move or the history behind state control. Her Triboro RX SBS proposal seemed careless and haphazardly developed, and her call for countdown clocks outside of subway stations costly and unnecessary.

Overall, the various candidates struck similar themes designed to placate voters without removing traffic lanes: More Select Bus Service routes; more ferry routes; more subway service; no plans to pay for anything. Down ballot, Sal Albanese embraced Gridlock Sam’s plan for congestion pricing and transit funding, but he, unfortunately, won’t garner much support in Tuesday’s primary. How then did I come to Bill de Blasio?

In part, my support from de Blasio comes from an appreciation of his transit platform, and in part, my support comes from the recent StreetsPac endorsement. While recognizing the limits that face the mayor with regards to transit, de Blasio has made more bus rapid transit — a network over which the mayor exerts plenty of control — a centerpiece of his campaign while calling for a new Penn Station focused on the needs of commuters and biking and street safety improvements. His approach is holistic and comprehensive, and while I wish he had expressed more of a willingness to up city contributions to the MTA’s capital budget and some concrete plans for expanded subway service, his plans are the best amongst an uninspiring bunch.

On the Republican side, I am supporting Lhota, a former MTA head, because I too believe trains should stop for no kittens. Need I say more? OK, OK. I’ll say more. The kittens are ultimately besides the point anyway.

Throughout the campaign, John Catsimatidis hasn’t shown any attention to the nuances of transit, and his campaign website is devoid of any sort of issues list. Earlier tonight, he claimed that the Second Ave. Subway “is a disaster” that has “put almost every merchant out of business” and tried to blame his opponent for a project that began in earnest a decade ago. That alone is enough to dismiss his candidacy out of hand, but he’s also spent considerable time railing against bike lanes and trumpeting a monorail that would run alongside the Long Island Expressway.

Lhota, on the other hand, hasn’t run a banner campaign on transit and transportation issues. His website too is devoid of a transit platform, and he discussed removing pedestrian plazas for one. He’s also expressed a desire to remove Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority revenue from the MTA, a highly problematic proposal for the MTA’s budget, but he has proposed a subway to Staten Island either as a carrot for key GOP voters or a future transit expansion. I endorse him here for what he’s done rather than for what he’s said. As head of the MTA, Lhota showed a keen instinct for and understanding of the problems facing the agency. He has knowledge and experience to be a leader on transit if he so chooses.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic about a candidate running for mayor. I wish we could witness a robust debate on transit investment priorities and expansion opportunities. For the primaries, at least, those discussions don’t often win votes or support. So this is where we are. Get out there and vote on Tuesday, and if transit and transportation are on your mind, Bill de Blasio or Joe Lhota should get your lever pull.

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Fuzzy Dunlop September 9, 2013 - 12:39 am

Downballot doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Woody September 10, 2013 - 5:42 pm

Unhelpful but true, Fuzzy.

At the top of the ballot are the President, the Governor, or the Mayor. The less important races like City Council and Dog Catcher are down-ballot.

Better to say, “Despite some strong transit arguments in favor of some BACK-OF-THE-PACK Democratic candidates …”

asar September 9, 2013 - 6:56 am

Go bill de basio!

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 7:29 am

I am generally the most Pro-Development, Pro-Growth, Conservative person posting here (I am an enrolled Conservative Party member). However, there is someone running who can be a great Mayor and leader (even for those who are politically opposed to him (UNLIKE Obama who is tone deaf to Republicans and their concerns)) and that is Bill de Blasio. Do I agree with him on specific issues? NO I am not sure I can find one, because he is the most Left-Wing Candidate(except for John Liu). But he is consistent, you know where he stands (unlike Quinn who shifts positions like sand), does not act like “Hamlet” as Obama does on issues like Syria: “To bomb or not to bomb that is the question.” While having countries like Iran & Russia laugh in our face. He also sees the big picture (which allows you to adjust your thinking when necessary) unlike technocrats like (Lhota or Thompson). I also believe you must be tough (Koch, Gulliani & Bloomberg) and NOT weak like Dinkins (we need someone to say NO to Municipal Unions demanding retroactive raises (we cannot afford it) and NIMBY’s wanting progress stopped). There is a reason why most liberals admire Ronald Reagan (even Obama), and that is because he was tough and you knew where he stood, but was also fair. Being Mayor of New York City is a hard job, we need a tough person to do it correctly. The only person who has a chance of succeeding at that is Bill de Blasio.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 3:09 pm

From reading your posts, you don’t seem more conservative than a typical Democrat. Sorry!

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 3:18 pm

Not at all. Read closely. I support stuff like Willets Point, St George Redevelopment, NYU and every such plan that has come out. I also do not want to give away everything to Municipal Unions.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 3:42 pm

Conservatives like Liu and Quinn love the status quo. You’re for overturning the status quo, using state power no less. Not saying you are more left-wing, but that makes you more, uh, liberal, than them.

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 3:51 pm

Liu is a Socialist, Quinn is a moron. I am pro-growth and that means projects like NYU expansion, are necessary. If NIMBY’s like those in Greenwich Village had their way we would be like fossils, and I am always happy to see Glass buildings replacing criminals in areas like The Bowery, and a mall over junk yards at Willets Point.

Benjamin Kabak September 9, 2013 - 3:55 pm

The NYU expansion is not a pro-growth plan. It’s a pro-handout plan.

Karm September 9, 2013 - 4:35 pm

Ben – why is the NYU expansion a “handout”? Do you feel the same about Columbia and Cornell’s expansions also? How much different are any of those expansions?

Benjamin Kabak September 9, 2013 - 4:41 pm

I’m not passing judgment on these projects one way or another, but they are essentially the transfer of other lands to private universities for specific types of use. There’s no potential for mixed-use development in the same way Willets Point or St. George has, and the tax breaks granted to these incredibly rich schools make it a handout.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 5:41 pm

Unless you mean property taxes, do they even pay taxes?

Karm September 9, 2013 - 7:09 pm

universities don’t pay taxes anywhere in this country… but they are essential to economic growth – especially and increasingly in the 21st century.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 8:19 pm

Even degree mills like NYU? 😀

AG September 9, 2013 - 8:43 pm

NYU is a “degree mill”? NYU is in the upper echelon of former students who are power brokers… not sure why it’s looked down on.



Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 9:51 pm

Meh academic quality, at least for the price. Nobody said it isn’t attractive to rich kids [who can’t get into Columbia or another Ivy].

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 5:40 pm

Liu supports workers democratically controlling their own industries?

Pro-growth, anti-growth, whatever, you should probably be a bit more discriminating. There is more than one kind of growth. The NIMBYs aren’t right about all growth in their back yards being bad, but NYU expansion doesn’t really help anyone besides NYU without, as Ben points out, at least some mixed use investment.

Karm September 9, 2013 - 4:37 pm

De Blasio has no interest in being tough with the unions!!! He needs them. He believes in retro-active pay. Not sure why you think he’s tough. He only is tough when it comes to “rich people”

Roxie September 11, 2013 - 7:49 am

Are you kidding? Obama’s been the best friend the Republican Party could ask for for years now. He’s everything Bush was and worse.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 7:45 am

De Blasio almost doesn’t have a transit platform. He is as much a setback for transit as any other major candidate, and the toll/CP opposition should be a show-stopper. The only good news about him on the transit front is he is perhaps too wishywashy to manage much lasting damage, though New York is still in grave danger of losing a lot of rail mileage if a loopy scheme like bus rapid transit vacuums up resources. SBS might actually be a cost saver, and seems politically easier, so maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll focus on that.

However, his safe streets ideas are probably a bit more robust than other candidates’, which should matter to transit proponents. If he deserves an endorsement, it is probably on that and civil liberties grounds, but I don’t think we should fool ourselves about his transit platform being somehow even “good.”

Phantom September 9, 2013 - 9:11 am

Lhota has the deepest resume, including experience in the private sector.

I don’t believe that de Blasio, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson or the bizarre beyond words Anthony Weiner have any private sector experience at all. All they know is how to work on the government titty. They’re part of the problem.

Cats is a smart guy, one who has built things, but he’s way too eccentric to be an effective candidate. He has no shot.

Lhota is the best choice, especially if transit if important to you.

llqbtt September 9, 2013 - 10:14 am

I’m glad you mentioned the ‘private sector’. It kind of cuts both ways. Yes, there are managerial aspects and philosophies that exist in the ‘private sector’ that don’t necessarily exist in city government. On the other hand, what exactly is the ‘private sector’ these days. Were it not for Uncle Sam, there’d be fewer giant American corporations around: GM, Chrysler, Citi, BoA, just to rattle off a few. The government owned a good chunk of them for years. Additionally, they benefit from all sorts of gov’t intervention across different areas, trade policy, monetary policy and such.

So, really, just how efficient is the ‘private sector’ and just how ‘private’ is it in fact?

Phantom September 9, 2013 - 12:56 pm

The US private sector pays everybody else’s bills, so it can’t be that bad. And it does include very many of the best creative enterprises in the world.

I’m not a private sector purist – I think that there is a huge role for well run governmental operations – but I’d be very wary of people who’ve only worked in the legal / government complex. When someone speaks of ” public service “, I reach for my revolver! 🙂

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 2:32 pm

You do realize you are alluding to a line that was supposedly much loved by Hermann Goering, right?

The private sector collects revenues and pays expenses broadly similarly to other sectors. It doesn’t confer any special wisdom on people who participate in it, and some private sector companies’ cultures might translate incredibly badly to public service.

Phantom September 9, 2013 - 2:43 pm

I will steal a good line from anyone, including a gangster like that. It’s been stolen by others.

You can coast for a lifetime in government work, esp in NYC. Its a lot harder to do that in private industry.

I think that our best minds are overwhelmingly on the private side of things. Elon Musk and Bezos are not to be found in the Housing Preservation and Development Dept.

Bloomberg, obnoxious goody two shoes nanny that he is, I think did make a good transition from private to public.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 3:32 pm

The original source is Hanns Johst in play celebrating the Nazis’ rise to power. [Ed.: no idea if the cast had any Jews or homosexuals!] A better translation of the original line is something like, “When I hear the word ‘culture’, I uncock my gun.”

Would you hire a great plumber to bake your bread? Elon Musk is a smart guy, but his transport ideas are somewhere between delusional and farcical. I think someone like Bloomberg might make a great MTA head, actually, but he is a lousy mayor who doesn’t understand or much care about policing, housing, transportation, or small business…and, quelle surprise, has left a financial mess for the next guy.

I actually don’t know that stale organizational cultures are so different in old school large companies and public sector bureaucracies. Dumb people who perform minimally well get hired, and are often hard to get rid of until they do something outrageous or a recession comes along and forces it. Very small businesses might be a little different, but the roles are at once broader but less complex.

Elected officials should be a little different, since the people who do badly should have to answer to voters, but it seems most pols calculate bold moves are more risky than just gliding the status quo too.

Phantom September 9, 2013 - 4:46 pm

Musk is doing exceptionally interesting things in space and with Tesla, after co founding Paypal.

He or Bezos would have no tolerance for the plodding environment in NYC or NYS government, where great workers get paid the same as dead weight workers

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 8:18 pm

This is what you’re getting wrong: Musk is paying people to do neat things. That is fine, of course, but the distinction matters. Musk is more an investor and IT expert than a tinkerer, however.

OK, so Bezos and Musk can’t make it anywhere. They are shockingly not supermen. I agree NYS is plodding, but I’m not sure sure Kalifornia is less plodding. Tesla and Amazon simply don’t fit well in NYC for pretty obvious reasons, like both depend a lot on transportation and require a lot of expensive real estate. While a few places have similarly impressive R&D cultures to Silicon Valley, none really have the pizazz factor.

Phantom September 9, 2013 - 3:11 pm


See the attached. This phrase appears to be from a prewar German play

( http://www.quotecounterquote.c.....lture.html )

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Yep, that’s it. Read about the author. Johst was a Nazi and Schlageter was fascist propaganda.

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 4:49 pm

I agree 100% stuff like “Community Benefits Agreements” are shakedowns that would make Don Vito ( “The Godfather” and Jimmy Hoffa blush. This is exactly what happened with Kingsbridge Armory ( and that is a better than most project, because it will eventually be privately owned). The only thing worse is the do nothing ” compromises” we see with Greenwich Village and Willets Point ( when it come to Willets, everyone demanding to move together ( and getting paid), knowing that it is unacceptable to the City ( polluting another area ( requiring another expensive clean-up) just being one reason for this). I want to see NYU 2031 and the Willets Point Mall get finished and thus, put a defeat on the NIMBY’s like what happened with Atlantic Yards and Yankee Stadium.

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 10:30 am

Phantom: If you look at the most important projects, I would say there are only about five that would be endangered by de Blasio or ANYONE being Mayor. The following 25 Projects will be finished. 1: Two Trees/Domino Sugar. 2: Greenpoint Redevelopment. 3: New Penn station. 4: Spura. 5: Last but not least Midtown Rezoning and everything entailed in it. The big projects that would be completed post 2014 are. 1: World Trade Center (including the PATH Station). 2: Columbia University Expansion. 3: NYU Expansion. 4: Cornell University/Roosevelt Island. 5:99 Greenwich St. 6: Brooklyn Bridge Park (including Empire Stores) 7: 50 West St. 8: Hallets Point. 9: Court Square/Long Island City. 10: Hudson Yards. 11: Hudson Square. 12: Brooklyn Navy Yard Expansion (including former Admirals Row Houses). 13: 610 Lexington Ave. 14: Willoughby Square/Fulton Mall Redevelopment. 15: NYC Police Academy Expansion. 16: LaGuardia Expansion. 17: JFK Expansion. 18: East Side Access. 19: Second Ave Subway (Phases 1 & 2). 20: Water Tunnel #3. 21: Governors Island Construction. 22: Kosciuszko Bridge Project. 23: Former Watchtower DUMBO Property Condos. 24: Atlantic Yards. 25: Kingsbridge Armory. What does it mean? Lots of Construction happening. The project to watch is Willets Point, and see if the NIMBY junkyard owners can be defeated in the City Council in October, and will de Blasio say yes or no before the election?

SEAN September 9, 2013 - 11:49 am

One slight nitpick – JFK is always under construction. The latest projects coming up include Delta’s expantion of T4 for regional jets, extending concourse A at T4 with 6 aditional gates, the demolishing of T2, the possible relocation of BA to T8 from T7 & the expantion of T5 with T5I on the T6 footprint.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 2:39 pm

De Blasio is a big fan of development for development’s sake, and he has generally gone against orthodox NIMBYs. Still, many of these projects you’re extolling aren’t particularly important or useful, and some are just damaging.

There is no commitment to bring proper transit to places like Willets Point, so developing it is pretty near rock bottom stupid.

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 3:42 pm

Willets Point is the biggest slum in New York City ( Beach 36th Street in Far Rockaway is also pretty pathetic as well). Getting rid of that toxic waste dump, would be a major plus. I do not see what you would consider harmful? 610 Lexington Ave is a pit, as is 111 Washington St, 99 Church St, and 50 West St ( although those last two will get done). I want to know which ( if any) projects you consider important? Of the projects not started, My personal favorites are 1: 50 West. 2: St George Waterfront Redevelopment. 3: Willets Point. 4: Kingsbridge Armory. 5: Hallets Point. All of which (particularly Willets and St George) , are economically important.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Redeveloping Willets Point is fine, but how they redevelop it and what the return is matter. Another mall clogged with cars is a lateral move from where it is now. A commitment to accommodate bus and preferably rail service to a mixed use neighborhood with complete streets makes sense. Otherwise it’s just a handout to the finance-union-developer triad, and resources would be better spent closer in. Still, can’t avoid the fact that places like Willets Point provide a useful economic function. It may be a function that people don’t like, but it’s necessary nonetheless.

The two projects you mention that are show critical are SAS and the Water Tunnel. Many of the others are routine maintenance or neither important not harmful. Some are just wasteful, like Penn Station redevelopment (should be two more tracks, not a new station).

Many others would be fine in principle, if they weren’t being done wrong. Domino seems to be injecting assloads of parking into a quiet Williamsburg neighborhood, and St. George is squandering what could be a prime urban space with similar boondoggles.

David Brown September 9, 2013 - 9:19 pm

I never came out for Penn Station, I wrote against it before very strongly. I mentioned that it is one that might not happen ( it is Quinn’s baby not de Blasio’s). I might rank it as one of the most endangered ( right after Greenpoint). Most of us agree that Water Tunnel # 3 is the most important project of all. I just ranked five that have not started yet, and are of interest to me. Willets Point and St George are big ones because they are billion $ projects. I put Willets and St George at the top for that reason ( The Point even more so, because of the chance to clean it up). Hallets and in particular, Kingsbridge may also be game changers, and 50 West St is a personal favorite of mine.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 11:18 pm

I’m not very fond of public money going to private developers or government vanity projects like Penn, at least not unless there is an incredibly compelling need. Most of the things you list would be fine with me as private projects, at least broadly speaking, and many of them are.

Narrowly speaking, maybe I’d object to the fact that many of these things are pouring more cars onto already clogged streets, but that is often the government’s fault.

Spendmore Wastemore September 9, 2013 - 11:09 pm

Without Willet’s point how do you think your cab, radio car and your plumber’s truck are going to get fixed?

If you answered “at the dealer” you have never kept a vehicle for its full life cycle.

AG September 11, 2013 - 4:44 pm

taxi industry is not the same anymore.. only the really really old ones go to willets point as a rule. any others can get serviced in other places.

Karm September 9, 2013 - 4:32 pm

The 7 and LIRR are fairly close… and as David said – it’s highly toxic. The waters off Flushing are contaminated because of it. Even if all the businesses moved out – it would still be contaminated (land and water).

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 7:48 pm

If it’s necessary to clean it, then clean it, but as a development project it’s silly. It’s not particularly close to transit, it’s not particularly close to the rest of the city, and it has no other economy than junk dealing and auto body shops.

The government should be steering the existing transportation network, not rowing real estate projects. Let the private sector handle the real estate development.

AG September 9, 2013 - 8:25 pm

The private sector are the ones developing Willets Point… what do you mean??? It’s their money so obviously they think it can be successful. If they fail – that’s on them.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 9:41 pm

The private sector isn’t condemning the properties, evicting businesses, and handing the area over to developers. It’s already on us, whether they fail or not.

AG September 11, 2013 - 12:02 am

but who is going to clean up that toxic area and just let it be fallow? This is not a new idea. Ppl have been trying to clean it up for 70 years.

just in case you didn’t know – there are PLENTY of illegal activities that go on there. T\Just one is the fact that most transactions are cash and never reported… which means all taxpayers are already losing.

Bolwerk September 11, 2013 - 1:34 am

What I mean is the biggest mafia of all, Big Gubbermint, is spending boatloads of money to evict operational businesses engaging in economic activities that, however unpleasant, are ultimately necessary. They want to hand over the land to private entities to develop.

Not saying that’s good or bad, but the opportunity cost of doing that there is not doing it somewhere else, and I somehow doubt the motives are especially altruistic, especially when professional urban planning fuckups in the EDC are involved.

And if they really want to clean it and redevelop it, a much better way to do it is with some kind of forward-thinking urban development plan that lets small groups of lots be developed for mixed use along the lines of Manhattan or brownstone Brooklyn. Handing it over to a few mega-developers helps mega-developers, and leaves NYC taxpayers holding the bag.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 2:36 pm

Lhota’s campaign has been a panderfest to suburban grifters like Sharon, and his experience in the real world is nearly irrelevant to transit. The best you can say about him is he didn’t screw up too badly.

I don’t trust de Blasio on transit, but I have yet to see much evidence that Lhota is better.

Karm September 9, 2013 - 4:34 pm

Phantom – I agree about Cats – he’s certainly smart and a builder – as opposed to a career politician like the Democrats running…. but he is too eccentric to be elected.

normative September 9, 2013 - 1:31 pm

“Down ballot, Sal Albanese embraced Gridlock Sam’s plan for congestion pricing and transit funding, but he, unfortunately, won’t garner much support in Tuesday’s primary. How then did I come to Bill de Blasio?”

When did voting become a horse-race? One votes for who they think has the best policies, not whose most likely to win or who has a chance.

Karm September 9, 2013 - 4:29 pm

well sadly that’s been the case in politics for a VERY long time. ppl vote for and/or endorse who they think will win so they don’t get left on the “gravy train”… then it becomes self-perpetuating. You see it anytime their is a poll – the leads get bigger and the endorsements start to pour in.

Karm September 9, 2013 - 4:27 pm

De Blasio is the candidate most likely to cause the economy of the city to sputter…. without a functioning economy and safe streets – transit will begin to falter.
Plus he flip-flopped positions more than any other candidate… can’t really go by anything he says.

Bolwerk September 9, 2013 - 9:47 pm

In other news, smoking cures cancer!

You can relax, Fox News histrionics rarely turn out to be true. The candidate most likely to kill the NYC economy is Andrew Cuomo, Dean Skelkos, Sheldon Silver, or whatever inept clown the Repuglikans [s]elect to the White House in 2016. De Blasio just happens to suck on transit.

On financing and budgeting, they’re all basically in the same league of wishywashy. Even Lhota.

OK, maybe de Blasio is a bit less authoritarian than the others.

Karm September 10, 2013 - 4:38 pm

ok – I guess you think these things work by magic.

and newsflash for you – I don’t watch Fox News!!!

Bolwerk September 10, 2013 - 8:08 pm

You may or may not watch Fox News, but you are repeating its crap. People don’t quit their jobs and start committing crimes just because the Republikans lose power. That is the height of magical thinking.

Karm September 10, 2013 - 11:26 pm

what are you even talking about???? you are the only one repeating crap…. stick to talking about transit. you are the most annoying person on this site. you talk like a spoiled child when someone disagrees with you.

Bolwerk September 11, 2013 - 1:16 am

What, you can’t justify unfounded comments like, “most likely to cause the economy of the city to sputter…. without a functioning economy and safe streets – transit will begin to falter,” so you resort to personal attacks? You stick to talking about transit, and I won’t call bullshit when you repeat heuristic nonsense about topics you don’t quite understand, like crime and economics.

Karm September 11, 2013 - 4:43 pm

it’s called look at his policies – that’s where I get my comments from. time will tell who is right and who is wrong…. but history already does.

as to personal attacks – I made none against you… You started with your ones about me “repeating crap” from a network I don’t even watch. I pointed out are childish. you can’t be that stable if you don’t see that. When I sign off this site I don’t even remember it. Find another sandbox partner – I’m a grown adult – I know how to agree and disagree.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 1:53 pm

Uh, not that I care that much, but yes you did. “Crap” refers to your comment, not to you. Accusing me of being childish has nothing to do with my comment, and everything to do with me. Surely an educated, mature adult like yourself can tell the difference.

So, then, what history supports the notion that de Blasio’s policies lead to crime and economic decay? The Marvel Comics history?

Rob September 10, 2013 - 10:49 am

I couldn’t help but note this from today’s nro:

The Mugger
By The Editors

The last time a man of Bill de Blasio’s political bent was entrusted with the mayoralty of New York, the city experienced 2,000 murders a year, anti-Jewish riots, economic stagnation, and a general sense of ungovernability. Unhappily, New York City Democrats are preparing to make Mr. de Blasio their candidate for mayor, which, the city’s politics being what they are, and none of the Republican contenders being as charismatic as Rudy Giuliani or as rich as Michael Bloomberg, would make him the presumptive frontrunner.

The far-left element, never far from the surface of the city’s Democratic party, has experienced a generation of frustration: No professing Democrat has occupied the mayor’s office since Rudolph Giuliani was inaugurated on New Year’s Day of 1994, and this period of Democratic exclusion from Gracie Mansion has been one of dramatic improvement for the city — economically, socially, and, above all, in terms of law and order. But the Left has been to a large extent watching the action from the outside, and there is a great deal of pent-up demand for punitive politics on the David Dinkins model. Mr. de Blasio has promised to satisfy that demand in full.

The centerpiece of Mr. de Blasio’s campaign agenda is a mugging — a multibillion-dollar forcible wealth transfer from New York taxpayers to the public-sector unions that constitute the backbone of the city’s Democratic machine. This will take the form of half a billion dollars a year in new taxes on certain high-income New Yorkers, to be spent on kindergarten, day care, and after-school activities. Never mind that there is scant evidence, to the extent that there is evidence at all, that such programs improve in any meaningful way the education of students — and never mind that in New York City, education spending already is up some 52.7 percent (adjusted for inflation) over what it was when Mayor Bloomberg was elected. The money will go to Democrat-affiliated public-sector employees, which is enough for the Democrats. And the Left cares just as much about where the money comes from — in this case, from New Yorkers earning $500,000 a year or more. The politics involved are pure resentment-driven, Occupy-style hate.

Mr. de Blasio’s wealth-transfer agenda is in fact unlikely ever to come to pass; Albany would need to sign off on those tax hikes, and probably would hesitate to do so. But purely as an instrument of communication, Mr. de Blasio’s proposal is sure to be effective, its unmistakable message to businesses and investors — “Not Welcome” — plain for all to see. The destructiveness of this message is difficult to overstate.

Changes in technology and business practices over the past two decades mean that financial firms, the source of most of those high-paying jobs, have no pressing need to be physically located in lower Manhattan. An office on Wall Street has mainly symbolic rather than instrumental value. Competing financial centers, such as nearby Stamford, Conn., or Charlotte, N.C. — to say nothing of London, Singapore, or Sydney — would be only too happy to absorb those highly paid workers and the already substantial tax revenue they generate. The obvious analogue here is Los Angeles and the movie and television businesses, which have been driven to greener pastures by California’s punitive taxes and regulations. New York City is simply not a going concern without the financial industry at the heart of its economy.

So much for the de Blasio agenda. What of de Blasio per se? New York is a place where people come to invent themselves, which is what Mr. de Blasio, formerly Warren Wilhelm of Cambridge, Mass., has done. He entered politics as a volunteer on the Dinkins campaign before serving as an aide in the Dinkins administration, and he met his wife while working for Team Dinkins. Outside of that world, he is a stranger. He has less-impressive private-sector experience than do many students applying for summer internships, his career having consisted mainly of stints as a minor figure in the administration of Bill Clinton and in the Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, along with elected offices.

He currently serves as the city’s “public advocate,” meaning roughly “tribune of the plebs,” an obscure office with little in the way of real responsibility or influence. He has made minor crusades out of defending the Section 8 housing program and looking after the rights of transgendered tenants. His most notable success was stopping a plan to expand taxi service with new cabs that would serve the outer boroughs — thus making life less convenient and more expensive for New Yorkers outside of Manhattan, for which he was richly thanked by the cab cartel. And he has been the most severe critic among the Democratic mayoral candidates of “stop and frisk,” a policing tool that has been an invaluable part of New York’s impressive reduction in crime.

His main appeal to the Left is that he is so impeccably Park Slope. He earnestly says things such as: “I am very proud of the fact that my wife and I have raised two vegetarians.” He makes a point of mentioning that his children have attended public schools, and the impressive afro of his mixed-race son has become a sort of campaign rallying point. Not quite fitting this narrative is his wife’s time at Citigroup, where she worked for CEO Chuck Prince, financial archvillain in the minds of the sort of people who vote for men like Bill de Blasio.

In sum, he is a would-be class warrior whose life in Park Slope was partly financed by Citigroup, whose résumé is thin, whose highest-profile job saw him overseeing an agency with a budget smaller than that of a typical Walgreens, who is — thank heavens — unlikely to even begin to accomplish the centerpiece of his agenda, but who has made brilliant if cynical use of his two attractive children in campaign commercials. Rustle up a couple of squeegee men and we’ll know how this story ends.

Woody September 10, 2013 - 5:46 pm

The National Review Online.

Still hating after all these years.

Bolwerk September 10, 2013 - 8:21 pm

I got real problems with de Blasio, but seeing all these authoritarian goons gnash their teeth warms the soul. They were so thrilled that Quinn was going to win.

Woody September 11, 2013 - 12:42 am

I voted for De Blasio because I just wanted it to stop. No reason to hope that a run-off was gonna improve things in any way.


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