Thursday, December 25, 2014


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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: The Big Man Comes To The Big Top

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It's hard to believe that it's only been two weeks since Bill de Blasio was elected mayor in a landslide. In this 24-hour Twitter-filled news cycle, it feels that we should already be talking about the failures and successes of his first term in office and who he's going to dump from his team if he's re-elected.

Some of the novelty of saying "Mayor-elect de Blasio" has worn off because for about a month before Election Day, it felt inevitable that he was going to swamp Joe Lhota at the polls, leading everyone to speculate who he was going to appoint to his administration and what direction he will take the city after his inauguration on New Year's Day.

But with the exception of appointing the leaders of his transition team, de Blasio hasn't exactly been filling in the blanks for his incoming cabinet. While he has six weeks to go before taking office, it may be time to feed the jobs beast before taking a Thanksgiving break with his family next week.

De Blasio has kept a low public profile in the city since winning; he headed to Puerto Rico for a working vacation with his wife, Chirlane McCray, where he attended a conference with Latino lawmakers. And he spoke at Al Sharpton's National Action Network over the weekend. But since unveiling his transition team two weeks ago, de Blasio hasn't said much more about his incoming administration.

Perhaps that's why the mayor-elect is heading to the "Talking Transition" tent today in SoHo to tour the circus tent space and speak to reporters. Yesterday, McCray went on a scouting mission of sorts for her husband, walking through the high-tech space run by private foundations that a friend described to me as "Occupy Wall Street meets the Apple Store."

Besides allowing members of the public to write down their suggestions to the new administration in what amounts to computerized message boxes, the tent has been home to plenty of panels discussing the problems that the de Blasio administration needs to tackle. With its vaunted ceilings and even a place that sells beer, the "Talking Transition" tent sometimes feel like a wedding reception filled with policy wonks.

A wonk of sorts himself, de Blasio should fit right in at the tent. But beyond touting the themes of his campaign, it is probably time for the new mayor to start telling us who's going to join him in City Hall next year. A good place to start may be police commissioner. Former top cop Bill Bratton talked up his resume at a transportation conference in Manhattan yesterday, noting that while he's enjoying life, "there is nothing like the public sector, every day you get up and you can make a difference."

De Blasio's first big decision may hinge on whether he will pick Bratton, a highly-successful law-enforcement expert who happens to be Rudy Giuliani's first police commissioner, or Phillip Banks, a top deputy to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who would become New York's third African-American police commissioner. Like it or not, there is a political message sent with either appointment. Or perhaps de Blasio will surprise everyone and not select Bratton or Banks, the two candidates who he was talking up before Election Day.

Some of the excitement and good will surrounding de Blasio since his primary win in September has dissipated in an autumn chill. A few good speeches or appointments could liven things up. And a stroll through a tent never hurt anyone. Fifty years after the passing of JFK, it may not exactly be "Superman Comes to the Supermarket," but it's all we have.

Bob Hardt

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