With his refusal to crack down on crime and inability to get schools and restaurants fully opened, Mayor Bill de Blasio has reached new depths of incompetence at exactly the wrong time. It’s one thing to be a dud when there is room for error, but this is an emergency, and the future of New York is growing ever more gloomy.
The mayor’s performance is so awful and the quality of life in such sharp decline that many New Yorkers who fled the pandemic have no plans to come back. Fears that the city is headed for a cliff are contagious and are leading to more frequent calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to remove de Blasio from office.
With no reason to believe the mayor is capable or determined to make things better, it’s tempting to join the chorus. The siren song is all the more seductive when you realize de Blasio’s term doesn’t end until Jan. 1, 2022, leaving him plenty of time to do more damage.
I am among those who relish the thought of de Blasio getting ejected from City Hall. In an instant, New York would be rid of its worst mayor ever.
Alas, reality interrupts the reverie. Despite the reasons to wish Cuomo would act, there are even better reasons to hope he doesn’t. Here are three.
First, de Blasio would be replaced by the public advocate, Jumaane Williams, who stands first in line of succession under the City Charter.
De Blasio is the first public advocate to be elected mayor, and his lack of experience at running anything has been revealed as a fatal flaw. Williams has that same lack of experience and a history of extreme anti-police activism that is exactly what the city doesn’t need during a surge in murder and shootings.
New York desperately needs a mayor who treasures the NYPD, not another one who trashes it. And on other critical issues, such as taxes and education, there is no reason to believe Williams would be an improvement.
Reason No. 2 for not supporting a Cuomo intervention is Cuomo himself. He is part of the reason people are fleeing.
He signed into law the so-called bail reforms that helped fuel the crime surge. He has been missing in action on reopening schools, effectively giving the teachers union a veto by saying, “Teachers have to feel safe.” He never gave subway or hospital workers that option.
The biggest mark against Cuomo is his calamitous policy of sending infected COVID patients to nursing homes, and his heartless refusal to own the death and grief it caused.
The Empire Center is suing his office to get the facts about how many nursing home residents actually died of the virus. Shamefully, the governor and his Health Department are hiding the data, almost certainly because it would reveal how they manipulated statistics. They also concocted a phony report to blame staff members for spreading the killer virus.
They concede that COVID killed some 6,600 people in long-term care facilities, but conveniently changed their counting method as the numbers soared. The best guess is that at least 10,000 died after getting infected in the facilities.
Moreover, Cuomo’s entire tenure leaves much to be desired. He’s been in office since 2011, and New Yorkers across much of the state were voting with their feet long before the pandemic over high taxes, rampant corruption and poor public services.
Reason No. 3 for resisting a quick hook for de Blasio is the terrible precedent it would set. The only comparable case came in 1932, when FDR, months before he was elected president, forced the flamboyant — and utterly corrupt — Mayor Jimmy Walker to resign.
That was the height of the Depression and Walker admitted to taking large amounts of cash from business owners while denying they were bribes. He agreed to leave office with more than a year remaining in his second term.
The big difference now is that there are no known criminal investigations of de Blasio, let alone pending charges. The feds probed pay-to-play allegations in his first term, but didn’t indict him, largely because they couldn’t find evidence he put any money in his own pocket.
Being a lousy mayor isn’t a crime, and the idea of substituting the decision of a governor for the will of voters simply because the mayor is widely seen as failing is generally repugnant. Once you start down that road, how do you resist the urge to regularly undo elections?
De Blasio, it should be noted, won both of his terms in landslides. Although turnout was only about 25 percent in both 2013 and 2017, he got nearly 800,000 votes the first time and about 725,000 the second time.
Those are very respectable numbers, similar to those Michael Bloomberg got in his first two elections and far above the 585,000 votes Bloomy got while winning his third term.
So the fault lies with those New Yorkers who voted for de Blasio, or not at all. Their choices surely are making life worse for most of them as well as for the rest of us.
Voters will get another chance next year. Until then, a great Ed Koch line seems appropriate for our suffering.
After his 1989 defeat as he sought his fourth term in City Hall, Koch was asked if he would ever run again. No, he said, then added, “The people have spoken and they must be punished.”
Game on in key Big Ten states
It’s the Big Ten election.
In some ways, the political battle over a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg changes everything. In another way, it changes nothing.
The race for the White House still depends on the outcome in the same handful of swing states. Most are in the heartland — and have colleges in the Big Ten athletic conference.
As CNN recently reported: “President Donald Trump got his football wish: The Big Ten college football conference will begin playing in late October. Trump had been pushing for the league, which has schools in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, among others, to start playing and had talks with the league. The league previously announced a suspension of its schedule.”
Trump’s intervention came after Joe Biden ran ads showing empty stadiums and blaming the president for the shutdown. “Let’s get back in the game,” the ad concluded.
Unfortunately for Biden, Trump did just that by helping to get the Big Ten to play ball.
NY’s US senators are good … for nothing
Reader Judith Levine believes New York’s rot is not limited to Cuomo and de Blasio, writing: “We also have two useless senators. In fact, is Kirsten Gillibrand still a senator?
“The city is in its death throes and not a peep from them. Chuck Schumer comes out of his hole every Sunday to rail against Trump, then goes back into hiding. They have done nothing for the city or state.”