Got a suggestion for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio about the city's direction for the next four years? Then get on down to the Talking Transition tent on Canal Street near Sixth Avenue and make your opinion heard. A consortium of groups, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Ford Foundation, think it's crucial to keep civic engagement alive as de Blasio hammers out his agenda. They've made it easy for you to speak your mind.
And they're plainly on to something.
So far more than 10,000 people have visited the tent, says a Talking Transition spokesman. Many have posted their ideas on wallboard stickers. "Stop overcrowding schools!" says one. "Protect the hospitals!" says another. "Give Me LOVE!!" commands another. Meanwhile, almost 50,000 people have taken the consortium's digital survey at TalkingTransitionNYC.com, the spokesman says.
Their tone sounds more hopeful than angry.
While most seem eager to give de Blasio a try, many sound as if they also want keep most of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's achievements. One speaks up for charter schools. Posters on easels near the tent's entrance tout the Hudson Square district's resurgence (for example: subway ridership is up 2.2 percent in each of the last five years).
The key lesson may be that New Yorkers today crave more interaction with their local leaders -- more attention, more debate, more public displays of affection.
Whatever Bloomberg's considerable strengths, they did not include pressing the flesh, fielding questions at packed town hall meetings and driving home his points in raucous outer-borough high-school auditoriums. Most modern New York mayors have famously thrived in that milieu -- from Fiorello LaGuardia to John Lindsay to Ed Koch to Rudy Giuliani. But not Bloomberg, who has always seemed as if he would rather govern by fiat.
Still, if Talking Transition is on the mark, New Yorkers aren't necessarily celebrating the end of the Bloomberg raj. They just want to keep the best of that era and move on to issues like affordable housing. They want de Blasio to see Bloomberg's ante and raise him. So do we.