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Ex-Dinkins aide, urban planner named deputy mayor of strategic policy initiatives

J. Phillip Thompson, who replaces Richard Buery, is a political scientist at MIT.

J. Phillip Thompson, left, was appointed Thursday as

J. Phillip Thompson, left, was appointed Thursday as deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives by Mayor Bill de Blasio, at City Hall in Manhattan on Feb. 22, 2018. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio is appointing a new deputy — a Massachusetts Institute of Technology urban planner and political scientist who worked in the mayoralty of David Dinkins.

J. Phillip Thompson replaces Richard Buery, de Blasio’s deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives, who oversaw the rollout of de Blasio’s mandate for taxpayer-funded prekindergarten classes for all city 4-year-olds.

“Phillip is one of the foremost experts on how to better serve and lift up low-income neighborhoods, and has spent decades fighting in the trenches for progressive causes. He will make sure our agencies are working together to make New York City the fairest big city in the nation,” de Blasio said.

Thompson, who served as deputy general manager of the New York City Housing Authority, is “a frequent advisor to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States,” according to his biography on the MIT website.

Like Thompson, de Blasio got his start in city government working for Dinkins, the city’s first and only black mayor, who served one term from 1990 to 1993.

Speaking to The New York Times last year, Thompson disputed conventional wisdom that Dinkins’ mayoralty was largely a failure that needed clean up by his law-and-order successor, Rudy Giuliani. Dinkins’ legacy, Thompson said, is in full blossom only now.

“A lot of the things that de Blasio has been successful around, such as his emphasis on affordable housing and universal pre-K, those were things that Dinkins pushed for very hard,” Thompson said. “Also, the way he went after the crime issue was a much deeper approach to community policing than Giuliani had, and over time those approaches have proved to be more effective. And you avoid the issues we got into with stop and frisk and police chokings.”

Thompson added: “He doesn’t get credit for a lot of those things ... Giuliani took credit for reducing crime, but he isn’t the one who hired 5,000 cops with a $3 billion budget gap. The narrative tends to skip over that.”

Thompson is the author of “Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Call for Deep Democracy.”

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