Long Islanders returning to work in the Big Apple should be prepared to encounter a city that, thanks to Mayor de Blasio, is increasingly unsafe, increasingly violent and increasingly dirtier.
How this came to be is the subject of a superb new book by Seth Barron, “The Last Days of New York: A Reporter’s True Tale.”
Baron, who has written extensively on the Big Apple for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, has a keen detective’s eye for uncovering what de Blasio’s progressive formulas have wrought: debt, decay and government bloat.
Throughout his book, Baron gives untold examples of how de Blasio’s rigid ideology clashes with reality.
During the pandemic shutdown, for example, when the mayor forbade street fairs, family gatherings and church attendance, mass gatherings “driven by the demand for racial justice” were exempt from pandemic-related restrictions. “It was OK,” Barron notes, “to hold marches and rallies, blocking traffic while angrily screaming, because it was demanded by the arc of history.”
Bill de Blasio is a classic example of a 1980s radical with powerful collectivist tendencies. He joined up with the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua and spent his honeymoon in Castro’s Cuba. And like many of New York’s professional progressives, he has never had a real job. And he is lazy.
Most of his paychecks, prior to holding elective office, have come from consulting gigs and political patronage appointments.
After years of leading street protests, de Blasio parlayed his notoriety into elective office, first as a city councilman and later as the city’s public advocate—a largely ceremonial post.
A self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, he opposes private ownership of property (except his own), and would have government plan aspects of people’s lives according to their needs. “Look, if I had my druthers,” he once declared, “city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed.”
As for the rich, de Blasio despises them. He retails the policies of resentment, preaching that the haves have stolen from the have-nots.
“I like to say very bluntly,” de Blasio has bellowed, “our mission is to redistribute wealth.” Hence, his campaign slogan: “There’s plenty of money in this town, it’s just in the wrong hands.”
While he publicly disparages the top 1 percent who pay more than 45 percent of city income taxes, de Blasio is not an egalitarian when it comes to rewarding the public-sector unions, consultants and wealthy donors who have supported his political ascent.
“Again and again,” Barron notes, “Bill de Blasio took pay-to-play politics to Tammany levels of corruption, turning City Hall into something more like a pari-mutuel window than the cathedral transparency and good government he promised to run.”
Shortly after taking office in 2014, de Blasio gave the teachers union everything they wanted “including two retroactive 4 percent raises and an additional salary bump in exchange for vaporous promises of healthcare savings that never materialize.” The price tag: $3.6 billion.
The city now spends more per student—over $27,000—than any other municipality or school district in the nation.
And what is the return on that investment? “New York City scores below the national average and also underperforms the rest of New York state.”
During his tenure, de Blasio has been on a spending spree. His annual budgets have increased three times the inflation rate. In 2014, the operating budget was $72 billion and his proposed budget for 2021-2022 that begins July 1 will top $100 billion.
The bloated city workforce that totaled about 298,000 in 2014 has jumped to 334,000.
The only public-sector employees de Blasio demonizes are New York’s Finest, the 40,000 men and women in Blue who patrol city streets.
De Blasio cast his lot with “anti-broken windows advocates, opponents of incarceration and police abolitionists.”
As a result, crime in all categories has sparked for the first time in a quarter of a century; homelessness is endemic, junkies have taken over public parks, and the mentally ill have taken up residence on subway cars and in sidewalk campsites.
To understand why the city you will be commuting to “has seen a turn towards seediness and decay,” pick up a copy of “The Last Days of New York.”