Last night was a textbook case of why a mayor is always taking a risk whenever he leaves town.
A few hours after City Hall announced that Mayor de Blasio and his wife were taking off for Florida to catch a Red Sox spring training game this weekend, a firefighter died in Harlem while fighting a blaze at a building that was being used as a film set.
While no one is suggesting that de Blasio could have swooped in and put out the fire, it sets an important tone when the mayor is speaking at a briefing to announce the death of one of the city’s servants. No doubt the mayor will be at Michael Davidson’s funeral and the city will somehow survive de Blasio’s absence from the scene on Thursday night – but some firefighters will likely be unhappy.
The New York Post earlier this year figured out that the mayor had been out-of-town 53 times in his first term – not including trips to Albany and Washington D.C. Some of those trips were work related or at least quasi-work related but others were vacations far from City Hall – including Italy.
While no one should begrudge the mayor getting a break now and then, it’s questionable whether he needs to leave town on a monthly basis. De Blasio’s supporters are quick to note of Michael Bloomberg’s frequent jaunts to his home in Bermuda and I’d say that those were foolish as well. Bloomberg looked especially flat-flooted after the NYPD shooting of an unarmed man outside a Queens strip club in 2006. And Bloomberg’s handling of a mammoth blizzard in 2010 was hampered by his presence in Bermuda.
As Woody Allen noaed, 80 percent of success is showing up -- And that’s especially true when part of your job is being the city’s cheerleader and spiritual leader.
While you don’t have to be chained to your desk to be mayor of New York, there are plenty of places to explore that may be off the beaten path from Park Slope or Gracie Mansion. I hear City Island is lovely this time of year.
Addendum: At 10:32 a.m., the mayor's spokesman, Eric Phillips, notified the press corps that the mayor will be returning to the city because of Davidson's death.