NEW YORK — Maya Wiley may be Bill de Blasio’s former chief counsel, but she is already striking back at his perceived shortfalls as she runs for mayor, calling for significant change instead of “incrementalism” and hinting at the failures of his “Tale of Two Cities” promise.
"I believe deeply in this city and its ability not just to recover, but to reimagine New York, so that it is actually a place where every single one of us all can live with dignity. And that right now that requires something very different from all of what has come before it,” she said in an interview with Inside City Hall anchor Errol Louis on Thursday night. “It requires an unconventional approach that recognizes we have to stop tinkering, we have to get off a treadmill of incrementalism, because we need transformation in this city. We need a city that not just comes back from COVID, but that comes back in a way that re-envisions the economy as one that serves to propel all people into prosperity.”
Incremental change and a city that hasn’t helped all New Yorkers have been major points of consternation for liberals when looking back on de Blasio’s time at City Hall. In 2013, de Blasio successfully campaigned on the promise he would fight inequality in the city, including economic and social disparities.
But seven years later, income inequality has grown, the homeless crisis has worsened, and liberals are questioning the mayor’s record of addressing racial inequalities.
So now Wiley, who announced her bid for mayor Wednesday night, says she is running to try and change things. She has never been elected to public office, but she has held many prominent roles, such as chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, senior vice president for Social Justice at The New School, and political commentator for MSNBC.
But despite her criticisms of the mayor, Wiley is linked to his time in office. During her tenure as de Blasio's top lawyer, she advised him on fundraising matters that resulted in scandal and led to a federal investigation into the mayor and his top advisers.
As those investigations picked up steam, Wiley referred to de Blasio's outside advisers as "Agents of the City," a carefully crafted title she used to justify City Hall's refusal to release emails between the mayor and his advisers to reporters, who sought their release through public disclosure laws. The attempt to protect the correspondence resulted in a lawsuit by media organizations, including NY1. The courts eventually forced the release of the emails.
Calling for the Police Commissioner to be Fired
With the rise in violent crime in New York City this year, many experts predict crime — particularly if shootings and murders continue their uptick — will be a major factor in the June 2021 Democratic primary for mayor. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is expected to enter the crowded race, is a former member of the NYPD and has put the spotlight on public safety at times this year, potentially aiming to focus on it and more moderate lane among Democrats.
For her part, Wiley calls for investing in underserved communities to curb gun violence, pointing out that more economic opportunities makes New Yorkers less likely to engage in gun violence, and she calls on police to focus on crimes like gun running.
But Wiley also wants police accountability — something she says Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has failed to deliver and thus should be fired.
In her interview Thursday, Wiley hammered Shea for allegations the NYPD assaulted demonstrators and conducted a warrantless siege of a Black Lives Matter protester’s apartment. The mayoral candidate says the city cannot have a commissioner who believes the police can do no wrong.
“We cannot put the public back in public safety with a commissioner who refuses to understand, identify, real policing problems, rather than trying to criminalize speech that he doesn’t like,” Wiley told NY1. “You can’t have your chief law enforcement officer insisting that they can do no wrong, because when they do wrong it means they can’t be held accountable.”
This isn’t the first time Wiley has called for Shea to be fired. At the height of police brutality protests over the summer, she was critical of her former boss, and called for the removal of the police commissioner over his handling of the protests.
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Watch the full interview above.
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