Consider the pothole

The dried asphalt of the little newly-filled-in pothole is so fresh that it looks like it might be spongy to the touch, though of course it’s grainy. The sealant marking its rim is lavalike and strangely beautiful — a spilled bottle of Coke, pooled or frozen.

Drivers, Citibikers, and motorcyclists pass blithely by the filled-in-pothole on 13th Street off Broadway on a recent afternoon, not knowing that they were once in danger of being bounced and jarred.

But this pothole’s thirst for thudding tires and twisted ankles is no more.

And who do we have to thank for it but Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, who personally did the dirty work on Monday, in a ceremony commemorating this, the one millionth pothole filled by his administration.

Macro vs. micro

Such is the daily life of the man with one of the hardest jobs in America.

There was a time when de Blasio seemed to downplay these mundane, local practicalities. No longer: the pothole on 13th Street, by the way, was not exactly the millionth pothole — some 20,000 more had been filled in by the time the ceremony took place.

This fall, the mayor told the Daily News editorial board that he was “more interested in being the education mayor, the affordable housing mayor, than the pothole mayor,” while acknowledging that, of course, he had to fill potholes, too. But the loftier progressive goals, he said, would impact more people.

Opinion polls disagreed. As de Blasio positioned himself as a national progressive leader, his approval rating dropped. He tried — and failed — to organize a forum in income inequality for voters in Iowa, while voters in New York looked for a solution to an increasingly visible homelessness crisis.

Now, he’s the pothole man.

Last summer, political rival NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report noting the poor condition of city roads and highways. They were riddled with potholes. It took the administration an average of seven days to complete a pothole work order during the first four months of 2015, nearly triple the lag from the same crucial thawing period a year earlier, Stringer reported.

So far this year, that number’s down to 2 days, according to the Department of Transportation. A small improvement, but the potholes keep coming.

Where does aspiration get you?

Meanwhile, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s dreams have narrowed, announcing Monday that he wouldn’t run for president.

In a farewell op-ed, Bloomberg lamented the loss of the center in this year’s presidential contest. He might have brought his ability to run organizations, build small businesses, to the presidency, he said, but this practical drive had been overtaken by an extremist bent.

As mayor, Bloomberg developed a reputation for choosing good managers and successfully handling the practical issues of city governance while he could focus on his passions — banning sugary sodas, bringing more tourism and wealth to the city, adding bike lanes.

But it was a wave of ideological dissatisfaction that grew during the Bloomberg’s third term that gave de Blasio the Democratic primary win over Christine Quinn.

Now it’s #deblasiosNewYork, and he has to deal with it, potholes and all.

The humble pothole

Consider the pothole. It is a never-ending fact of city life.

On the very street where de Blasio donned construction gear and shovel, other small potholes marred the road — not irreparably, but enough.

The Stringer report suggested re-constructing some roads as an expensive alternative to the patchwork of never-ending repairs. If that’s the only real solution, I bet we’ll be fixing potholes far into the next century.

Putting together proposals to deal with widespread, structural issues like affordable housing is gratifying: Most candidates don’t run for office just to get the potholes fixed.

Ultimately, though, de Blasio’s success as mayor — and his prospects for re-election — will depend on his ability to successfully bring the same tenacity and focus to those lofty goals, filled like potholes, one by one.

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