Tag Archives: Bill de Blasio

All Power is Fungible

de Blasio in Albany

Photo: NY Daily News

Bill de Blasio shlepped to Albany this week to convince the state senate to extend mayoral control of NYC schools for seven more years. Control had been granted to his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, for seven years in 2002, and extended for six additional years in 2009.

When de Blasio asked the legislature in 2015 to approve mayoral control on a permanent basis, the senate rebuffed him, granting him a one-year extension instead.

Legislators stated they wanted to assess the city’s educational progress before making a permanent commitment. Left unstated was that they didn’t want to give up their opportunity to use periodic renewal of mayoral control as a way to remind de Blasio and his successors that the city is a creature of the state.

Albany’s legislators also know that a mayor who must ask them repeatedly for authorization to run his school system will be more apt to urge his commissioners to be responsive when legislators seek help for their constituents.

Governor Andrew Cuomo stated early this year that he favors a three-year term for mayoral control.

Predictably, de Blasio’s supporters included his popular schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña. Just as predictably, de Blasio received support from Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde, who was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as commenting after the meeting that “The business community would like to see permanent extension and not have this be a political issue.”

Evidently, like the state legislators, Wylde understands that the issue is not only about education but also is about fungible power: A mayor free of obligations to Albany’s elected officials is a mayor freer to support the needs of his most influential constituency, the city’s business community.

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Loosey-Goosey Term Limits

Tuesday’s NY Times reports that nearly three-fourths of New Yorkers want to effectively reverse the 2008 Local Law that overturned two-turn limits for the mayor and other NYC elected officials. Unfortunately, voters will not get the chance to do this in November.

The charter revision commission convened by Mayor Bloomberg earlier this year has produced only two ballot questions. On the first — whether to restore two-term limits — a “No” vote will retain the existing three-term limit, and a “Yes” vote will reimpose the two-term limit, but not for today’s incumbents. Only newcomers who first get elected in 2013 or afterward will be subject to the two-term restriction. Continue reading

How to Restructure City Government

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

Does it really make sense to cast separate ballots for a mayor and the official who succeeds him in event of mayoral disability (right now, the public advocate)? Or should the charter be revised so voters can cast a single ballot for a team, as they do for President and Vice-President, or for New York State’s governor and lieutenant governor?

One female Democratic district leader in Brooklyn who asked to remain unidentified thinks the team idea makes sense: “Two peas in a pod works fine for 60 days. Right now, it’s the public advocate until the special election, and if he doesn’t know what’s going on with the mayor, you have chaos.” Continue reading