Mayor de Blasio is hitting the road, appearing at the University of Chicago to speak on a panel with other prominent mayors about leading cities in the 21st century. The out-of-town trip gave the new mayor a chance to raise his national profile -- while a new poll shows his approval ratings sagging at home.
CHICAGO - Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office for a little more than two months, but he is ready to engage with his counterparts across the country about the challenges and joys of running a major city like New York.
"There is something energizing, captivating about being a mayor," he said.
As he shared the stage at the University of Chicago with the mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, however, it was clear that it has not been entirely smooth sailing for de Blasio back home.
His fight to raise taxes to pay for universal pre-K seems to be getting derailed by his decision to block three charter schools from opening in their intended locations this fall. He is getting increasingly frustrated with the media coverage of the issue. He says it is overshadowing bigger, more important stories.
"You will not find a front-page story on the crisis of teacher retention in our city, and I bet it's true in other cities, too," he said. "You'll find 100 stories on charter schools."
Teacher retention, though, is not an issue the mayor has emphasized.
Meanwhile, a new poll from the Wall Street Journal, NBC 4 New York and Marist College shows that just 39 percent of city voters approve of the job he is doing, and 20 percent say he is doing poorly.
David Axelrod, a former top aide to President Barack Obama, moderated the panel, and while it was a friendly discussion, he suggested that some of de Blasio's ideas are naive.
"I am comforted by your relentless optimism," Axelrod said. "The rubber hits the road at some point, and the details become a little more vexing than simply joining hands and sharing a vision."
Axelrod also raised the issue of de Blasio's speeding as he wrapped things up.
"I don't want you to have to speed to get to the airport," he said, prompting de Blasio to respond, "We're not speeding."
Even though he had a plane to catch, the mayor did not exactly speed out of here. He posed for pictures and shook hands, but did not take any questions from reporters.