It’s been just over a year since Bill de Blasio was elected for his second and final term as New York City mayor. Like a second-semester senior, he already seems to be skipping out on little things and looking at what’s next.
A recent sample: While he was up in Vermont doing a panel for Sen. Bernie Sanders, he fumbled his way through the firing of his emergency management commissioner.
He started a new political fundraising machine to pay for some national travels, even though his previous outside fundraising got a warning from the U.S. attorney.
His wife, Chirlane McCray, now shares a taxpayer-funded D.C. liaison with him, despite the middling success of her own initiatives back home.
A New York Times report finds that de Blasio often skips out on meeting one-on-one with his commissioners. The mayor himself admits he likes to work in the luxury of Gracie Mansion more than City Hall. But he’s still making that regular miles-long, gas-guzzling round-trip SUV ride to the Prospect Park YMCA.
Lots of people would like to work from home and hit the gym more, and past mayors also got distracted and wandered from NYC. Large parts of the city are safe and prospering, and de Blasio deserves credit for some of that. But he must not lose focus.
There’s a lot to do. The New York City Housing Authority is in crisis. The state-controlled MTA is, too. De Blasio doesn’t hold all the cards in either situation, but he should be looking for improvements 24/7. Then there are the usual challenges of affordable housing, homelessness, climate threats, public safety and even arguments over scooters and e-bikes. Other city politicians are raising their voices and claiming these issues. The mayor should roll up his sleeves for each one.
Last week, de Blasio was just above water with his lowest Quinnipiac poll net approval ratings since January 2017. Some attendees booed when he lit the Rockefeller Center tree last month. He should expect more of the same unless he marshals energy and vision for his current job. It’s the only one he has.