Bill de Blasio started his first week of work as mayor with a remarkable moment of symbolism this snowy morning, getting out in front of his Park Slope home and shoveling his sidewalk.
Working with gusto and telling New Yorkers to avoid using their backs while they clear the snow, de Blasio was almost positively giddy talking to NY1’s Josh Robin, noting that he’s leaving some heavy lifting for his teen-age son, Dante.
It went without saying that we never saw Michael Bloomberg pick up a shovel once in front of his Upper East Side home in his twelve years as mayor. A technocrat at heart, Bloomberg never realized the importance of a photo-op – or that hugs sometimes actually help.
De Blasio’s victory in the crowded Democratic field last fall was, if nothing else, a triumph of imagery. It has been a long time since a family has been thrust front and center into the political limelight of New York. And images do matter. Ed Koch will always be remembered for exhorting New Yorkers who were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge during the 1980 transit strike. A pivotal moment in John Lindsay’s administration came when he walked the streets of Harlem to keep the peace following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
While this snowstorm is hardly a crisis on that level, it’s a good early start for someone whose closest brush with real leadership was probably playing “Sim City” on his Mac. After an inspiring primary race, Bill de Blasio seemed to go into hiding during the general election campaign and continued playing it safe during an enervating transition. Perhaps today’s storm provided the mayor with a chilly shot of adrenalin that he needed. He should take that shovel to City Hall.