The day after Bill Thompson conceded the folks who ran de Blasio’s campaign packed up their laptops and moved on to the next race. They earned their fees.
600,000 Democratic voters selected a mayor for eight million New Yorkers, the de Blasio team knew how to push the right buttons. The TV commercial featuring his son’s Afro, the constant drumbeat on “stop-and-frisk,” the “tale of two cities” scenario carried the day for the 270,000 voters, the 40.3% who “elected” Bill de Blasio.
With a forty point bulge in the polls Bill de Blasio will be swept to victory on November 5th – his opponent’s chance of winning is about the same as the Mets winning the World Series and the Jets winning the Super Bowl.
The team that won the election is not the team who will run the city and the mayor presumptive is faced with a pre-election dilemma. How does he go about assembling a team that can satisfy his campaign promises? How does he address the long line at the Gracie Mansion door wanting to be paid back for their support?
Bill has to be careful; friends he trusts may not be giving him the professional advice he needs.
In the Carter administration I was having lunch with a “mover and shaker,” a partner in an important law firm that had guided national policy on a wide range of issues – he was bemoaning the selection of Carter’s fellow Georgians as his inner circle.
“This Carter guy told me, ‘You think only the Northeastern elite can run the country, only the Harvard/Yale crowd?’ to be perfectly honest, yes, we are the only ones.” BTW, the nine members of the Supreme Court come from, yes; you guessed it, only Harvard and Yale.
Carter felt “comfortable” with his good old boy pals, and he turned out to be a one- term president.
The two most important appointments to de Blasio’s administration, appointments that will frame his administration will be a new police commissioner and a new chancellor for the school system.
The speculation about the police commissioner was featured in the NY Times,
“For a change-oriented mayor, there’s a benefit to bringing in somebody from the outside,” said Jeremy Travis, the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has discussed policing policy with Mr. de Blasio. “The next police commissioner faces two equally compelling imperatives: first to continue to bring crime down, and second to help the city navigate its way out of the current conundrum about the stop-and-frisk tactics.”
There appear to be a number of highly regarded candidates ranging from Bill Bratton to others both in and out of the current police hierarchy.
On the school front the choice is far more complex, there is no obvious candidate; there are many suitors.
Rumor has it that a former superintendent, Carmen Farina is the “whisperer” in the presumptive mayor’s ear.
Farina had a long career: principal to superintendent to regional superintendent to deputy chancellor, she left under a cloud. (Read details here)
Sources tell parent advocates’ reporters that Ms. Farina placed the daughter of former Brooklyn Technological High School Principal Lee McCaskill in PS 29, a violation of NYC BOE policies (McCaskill lived in New Jersey). Special Investigators were angry with Mr. Klein for permitting Mrs. Farina to retire before she was convicted. Farina, as well as Chancellor Joel Klein, have no contracts with the NYC DOE, and there’s the rub: How Do they get away with this?
While it may be comfortable to sit down with someone you know critical decisions must be made with the advice of the “wise men,” the city fathers (and daughters) who understand both the complexities, the skills required to govern as well as the politics.
De Blasio should listen to Randi Weingarten, Bill Thompson, Dick Parsons, Diane Ravitch, Mathew Goldstein, David Steiner … the best minds in the city.
His high profile campaign pledge, full day pre-kindergarten appears “dead-on-arrival” in Albany. In an election year, all of Albany is up for re-election, the Republicans on the Senate side and the Governor are openly cool to any increase in taxes to fund anything; by the 4th week in March the budget will be done – does de Blasio “fight the good fight,” and lose – or is there a way to “save face?”
Police commissioners and chancellors must support the policies of the mayor; earn the support of the public and the employees they lead.
The mayor needs a chancellor who can navigate Scylla and Charybdis, who can steer around the whirlpools and eddies and not be tempted by the bewitching song of the sirens. The chancellor, learning from Odysseus may have to bind himself tightly to the mast, his men blocking their ears with wax to avoid the alluring seductive melodies that would bring him, and the administration to doom.
Enough Greek mythology, although we can learn a great deal from the Greeks; listening to the guy next to you on the bar stool will empty your wallet and chase away your girlfriend.
Finding sages who have “been there and done that,” who have a vested interest in your success, crafting polices that are morally, ethically and politically attainable is the path a mayor must follow.