At his inauguration speech Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio espoused platitudes about fairness and combatting Donald Trump’s White House. On Wednesday, newly minted City Council Speaker Corey Johnson signaled that he’d steer the council toward progressive goals while exercising independence of the mayor’s office, which some felt was lacking under his predecessor.
Well, now that the Times Square confetti is gone, it’s time to brew some coffee and get reacquainted with that old saying about politicians and their lips moving because 2018 can be the year New Yorkers get past the rhetoric and clear some things up.
The de Blasio camp, which partly hitched a ride on a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to re-election, remains a highly transactional operation so desperate to immerse itself in progressive imagery that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was brought in to swear in the mayor.
Speaker Johnson is reportedly a favorite of the real estate lobby, which donated generously to the lawmaker. In New York City, this is really saying something and it certainly doesn’t scream of independence. What’s just as bad is that Johnson’s new powers were handed down to him not by everyday New Yorkers but through a wholly undemocratic process where party bosses in smoke-filled rooms and even the mayor influence who ends up being New York City’s second-most powerful elected official.
Take another sip of coffee.
De Blasio is probably more concerned with pleasing donors than defending the city from Trumpian policies. In fact, crackdowns on e-bikes and fare-evasion arrests, which put immigrants here illegally on federal radars, are pretty Trumpish. Johnson, not to be outdone, has advocated for hiring more police officers during historically low crime (again), just like Melissa Mark-Viverito did early in her tenure as speaker. In other words, more of the same.
While we can’t expect politicians to change, we can. This time of year is usually a good place to start so let’s push for a city that doesn’t criminalize poverty by swiping in people who need to get on the train. Let’s support immigrant workers by rolling back the senseless e-bike ban. Let’s get into the streets and turn the city into one that’s in solidarity with poor and working-class New Yorkers.
If we do, we can sip more coffee and make the donors and real estate developers spit out theirs.
Josmar Trujillo is a trainer, writer and activist with the Coalition to End Broken Windows.