Mayor De Blasio’s first few days as Mayor of New York were defined by his response to the snowstorm. In the eye of the public, the new mayor handled his first task in office in a satisfactory manner. New Yorkers are particularly unforgiving in their criticisms of how elected officials respond to extreme weather. What is unclear now is how the De Blasio Administration will deal with key areas of city policy.
It is widely known that the selection of William Bratton as police commissioner has done much to upset parts of the progressive base DeBlasio utilized to coast to victory. The subject of policing and the overreach of the police department with its Stop and Frisk tactics was played no small role in the elections. In the opinion of some observers, this selection evokes a sense of betrayal. Many will recall that Bratton was commissioner under Rudolph Guiliani. This is not the only area where the nominally progressive standpoint of DeBlasio appears at odds with an appointment.
Consider also the appointment of former Goldman Sachs executive Alicia Glen as the deputy mayor for housing and urban development. Given the dearth of affordable housing, and the rapacious nature of the city’s real estate companies, this appointment most certainly raised a few eyebrows in housing activist circles.
Last but not least, is the appointment of Robert Linn as director of labor relations to aide in contract negotiations with the city’s unionized workforce. Linn worked under the Koch Administration as chief labor negotiator.
All of these appointments are cause for concern among the progressive base that gave DeBlasio such a strong mandate. In his inaugural statements, De Blasio stated his intention to take “dead aim” at inequality in New York City. Are these appointments reflective of a pragmatic new leader, bringing in experienced council to aid in transformative policy?
New Yorkers are concerned that more of the same damaging policies will continue in these three areas. There fear out there is that this team of advisers is the first sign that the same constituencies that have been alienated under the Bloomberg administration are again at risk of being left out in the cold. The suitable answer to these issues on policing and community affairs, housing, and labor must be based in policy, not speeches alone.