Bill de Blasio’s First 100 Days Show Social Workers Can’t be Mayors

Bill de Blasio’s First 100 Days Show Social Workers Can't be Mayors

Mayor Bill de Blasio was a social worker and politician before becoming New York’s mayor. Ever since FDR took office in 1933, the first 100 days of a new executive’s first term has been a big deal. In FDR’s case, he rammed 15 major bills through in that time. Of course, the nation was in the depths of the Depression, and without government action, revolution was not far away. In the case of New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, his first 100 days have been better than most expected. I’d give him a B+ thus far.

During his campaign, he outlined four big issues. First, he was going to tax the ultra-rich to pay for universal pre-kindergarten for all New York City 4-year-olds. Second, he was going to increase the number of affordable housing units built in the city. Third, he promised to expand paid sick leave for people who work in New York City. Fourth, he vowed to reform the stupid stop-and-frisk police policy that made suspects out of young males who weren’t pasty white (and a few who were).

Mayor Bill de Blasio had a problem with the first promise in that the state, not the city, has the taxing authority. His plan to tax everyone making more than $250,000 for his education expansion had to make it past the Republicans in Albany as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is up for reelection this fall. While he didn’t get his tax, he did get $300 million in state aid to spend. The city has 20,000 pre-K spaces now. Thanks to the extra funding, 33,000 more will come in September and another 20,000 the following September. It’s a win.

On affordable housing, this was destined to get a grade of “incomplete.” The fact is that you can’t put up anything in New York City within 100 days. Permits and legal details make 100 weeks a better timeline, and given the way the Bloomberg administration worked, it would have been 100 months (or years). You have to suspend judgment here.

As for paid sick leave, I was personally surprised by how quickly he got his bill passed and signed. I thought business would have kicked up a bigger fuss. The bill the mayor signed on March 20 provided five sick days a year to 500,000 workers who had none before. The law took effect April 1. Total victory here.

The fourth point was the one he absolute controlled. Stop-and-frisk violated just about every facet of the Fourth Amendment you could think of. The police, without any probable cause, simply stopped people and searched them. About 1% of the stops resulted in an arrest, and most of those were for marijuana possession.

When the police stop people who are not committing any crime, it tends to piss off those with whom they have interfered. Thanks to stop-and-frisk, there is an entire generation of young people, mostly male and mostly black or brown, who will never, ever cooperate voluntarily with the police because of their experience with stop-and-frisk. Two of them are my sons.

When de Blasio replaced Ray Kelly with Bill Bratton as police commissioner, stop-and-frisk got a boot in the ass from the new top dog. He said NYPD morale was lousy when he took over because of supervisors’ demands for ever increasing numbers of stops. He has radically reduced its use to the point where some neighborhoods no longer see it. And civilian complaints against the police are down.

Where de Blasio has faltered is in the basic service of snow removal and road repair. New York had a tough winter, and the transition between mayors occurred during a major snow storm. Upper East Siders complained they didn’t get their streets plowed for a few days. Next winter, he must do better.

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