Mayor de Blasio headed straight to the recycling bin yesterday, dumping Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious PlaNYC environmental agenda for an even more far-reaching blueprint for the city he’s dubbed “One New York.”
The mayor celebrated Earth Day by performing a bit of awkward surgery, grafting his vision of fighting poverty onto an existing body of work designed to combat global warming and resist the next hurricane that heads toward the city.
While it’s wonderful to hope that everyone makes $15 an hour, flood waters don’t care if you’re on food stamps when they’re surging your way. The mayor may have created a grand social vision for the city but there is no direct connection between preventing people’s homes from being swept away in a storm and keeping them afloat above the poverty line.
The political irony of Hurricane Sandy is that some of the most conservative pockets of the city were badly damaged by the storm, including the West End of the Rockaways and Staten Island. Because of this, it’s likely that plenty more Howard Beach residents believe in climate change than a few years ago. Taking PlaNYC and running with it could have been a Nixon in China moment for the liberal de Blasio, delivering to neighborhoods that rejected him at the ballot box in 2013 and giving him a chance to expand his mandate in 2017. Instead, he’s created a cumbersome plan that will be difficult for people of every ideological stripe to embrace.
Fighting a hurricane is a rally around the flag moment. It’s a different story when you’re talking about expanding the Welfare State. And it’s a lot easier getting Congress to fill a tin cup when it doesn’t look like you have a political agenda.
To butcher a line from Mayor La Guardia, there’s no Republican or Democratic way to fight a hurricane. Having ideology seep through everything is a sticky way to run a city. Happy “One New York“ Day.