Snow is falling in New York City today, meaning Mayor Bill de Blasio’s skills as a manager are again being tested. While less than a foot of snow seems more like a quiz than a test, the new mayor is still in his probationary period. Everything carries a little more weight.
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?):
1) Elections matter, a lot
The de Blasio administration has moved very swiftly to change policy—like dropping the city’s appeal of the stop-and-frisk program, ending the NYPD’s impact program, pursuing a new law to expand paid sick leave and signaling less financial support for charter schools. None of these moves were surprises, as they’re what candidate de Blasio campaigned on, but that’s precisely the point: he promised a break with the Bloomberg era, and that’s very much what we’re getting.
2) It takes him a long time to make very safe personnel choices.
Word is de Blasio is going to make a slew of appointments this week, which is good news, as the pace of the transition has begun to worry even his allies, what with de Blasio’s first budget due soon. The slow pace would seem to confirm the notion that management is not the new mayor’s strongpoint, but the names he has settled on are such veteran, establishment players that he’s insulated himself from any mainstream criticism that he’s not steering straight. De Blasio says he’s taking a long time because he wants to be sure he’s naming the right people to the job. Some on the left are hoping to see a few inspiring choices among the next batch to strike a balance between de Blasio’s need to demonstrate that the city will be well-run (by installing Bloomberg and Giuliani veterans in key posts) and the desire for change that the voters expressed by electing him.
3) Does New York have a new “fucking steamroller”?
Eliot Spitzer infamously called himself a “fucking steamroller,” a description of the take-no-prisoners approach that ultimately undercut his governorship even before we learned about the call girls and the black socks. De Blasio would never say anything so indelicate. But his role in the election of ally Melissa Mark-Viverito as speaker and his announcing a plan to expand sick leave via legislation that most of the City Council hadn’t yet seen made it clear that de Blasio—who often mentions the size of his electoral mandate—is not shy about using power aggressively.