“The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating,” Mayor Adams Takes the Stage

As the ball dropped at midnight Eric Adams became the 110th mayor of New York City and Bill de Blasio left the stage. The long list of previous mayors is tarnished and none have gone on to higher office, although they tried.

John Lindsay, a progressive Republican was elected in 1965 in the midst of a nation torn apart by urban riots, the opposition to the war in Vietnam and the assassination of Martin Luther King.  The Kerner Report (1967), officially the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders best known passage warned:

“Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” The report was a strong indictment of white America: “What white Americans have never fully understood — but what the Negro can never forget — is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”

Its results suggested that one main cause of urban violence was white racism and suggested that white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion. It called to create new jobs, construct new housing, and put a stop to de facto segregation in order to wipe out the destructive ghetto environment. In order to do so, the report recommended for government programs to provide needed services, to hire more diverse and sensitive police forces and, most notably, to invest billions in housing programs aimed at breaking up residential segregation.

The Report sounds like it was written yesterday, for over fifty years mayors have failed to meet the Report’s recommendations.

Lindsay was lauded; riots across the nation, Los Angeles, Detroit, Newark, the nation’s cities were burning, and Lindsay avoided the same fate for New York City; he “walked the streets” and appeared to be headed for the White House.

Lindsay’s run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1972 failed.

I blogged in detail about Lindsay here; give it a read, lessons for today.

His successor Abe Beame presided over the 1975 near default, 15,000 teachers laid off, the city saved by Al Shanker, the teacher union president loaning the city dollars from pension funds to avert an actual default.

 For a dozen years Ed Koch satisfied the needs of a deeply corrupt administration, schools were drastically underfunded and venality commonplace in elected school boards in the poorest districts.

David Dinkins, the first Black mayor, who defeated Koch in a primary, oddly refused to negotiate a teachers’ contract for months, lost support and was defeated by Rudi Giuliani, eight years of harsh policing, one could easily say a blatantly racist administration.

Twelve year of Bloomberg, who probably blames teachers for his failed run for the presidency, his recent promise of $750 million over five years for charter schools sounds like pique.

 De Blasio, in spite of his progressive creds and two sweeping victories at the polls is criticized from the right and the left; aside from Chirlene, hard to find his cheerleaders.

Sally Goldenberg in Politico. parses de Blasio’s heritage,

De Blasio proved himself to be a capable  manager who shepherded New York from the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic to a city that reopened schools, restaurants and theaters — all while maintaining one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. Along the way, he broke with his own conventions — challenging unions and religious leaders who have reliably supported his electoral ambitions.

But the sharp political instinct that guided him from Brooklyn school board to City Hall eluded him throughout his tenure. He instigated unwinnable fights, waged class warfare on people who fancy themselves civic boosters and persisted in courting constituencies that never much liked him in the first place.

Ross Barkan, on substack paints a picture of Adams very different from de Blasio,

Adams promises something very different. He is wily, unpredictable, and temperamental, his political compass shifting left and right. He is a mayor for the Black working-class and BlackRock. The richest men in America invested in his mayoral campaign, as did neighborhoods in the South Bronx and Southeast Queens. His policy agenda, at best, is thinly-sketched. The de facto head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party will run his government.

The media, from newspapers to Twitter report news as well as “cancel” electeds, and de Blasio never connected with the reportorial classes,

…  traditional newspapers and TV stations cannot so readily sketch narratives anymore and tell people what to think, but New York City remains a market where you want the tabloids, the local radio stations, and Channels 2 and 4 and 7 on your side. Together, intentionally or not, they tell a story, and a mayor does not want to be on the wrong end of it. De Blasio always was.

Adams, a former NYC Police Captain promises reductions in crime and crime has dominated news outlets. Crime data, in detail, is publicly available (Read here) 2020 saw a 50% increase in homicides, in 2021, a 5% increase. The data is posted weekly.

Adam’s success, or lack thereof, in reducing crime will be readily available.

Adams, and his school leader David Banks, have tossed out one-line policy statements; teach reading through phonics rather than Whole Language; the reading wars began in 1955 (“Why Johnny Can’t Read”) and John McWhorter (Read John McWhorter in The Atlantic, 1/2019) and continue today; however, decisions on curriculum are made at the school level. Is reading teaching methodology at the top of “the list?”

Adam’s 100 Steps Forward agenda lists education initiatives, each with a paragraph description, not a detailed policy paper.

* EDUCATION MOVE TO A FULL-YEAR SCHOOL YEAR

* IMPROVE HEALTH AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE WITH HEALTHIER FOOD

* MAKE DYSLEXIA SCREENING UNIVERSAL

* PROVIDE EVERY PARENT WHO NEEDS IT WITH CHILDCARE

* BIG STEP GREATLY INCREASE JOB TRAINING IN HIGH SCHOOL

* PRIORITIZE SCHOOLS INVESTMENT IN LOW-PERFORMING COMMUNITIES

* INSTITUTE A ROBUST PROGRAM FOR CULTURALLY AWARE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

* CREATE A COMPREHENSIVE LIFE SKILLS CURRICULUM

* CREATE THE BEST REMOTE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN THE WORLD

* BIG STEP MOVE FROM CRADLE-TO-CAREER TO PRENATAL-TO-CAREER

* OPEN UP SCHOOL BUILDINGS TO THE COMMUNITY 

Some of the “ideas” are extremely expensive; childcare for all will require Build Back Better, now stalled in Washington. How do you fund year-round schools? Didn’t Adams just refuse remote learning and order a full opening on January 3rd …. many, many legitimate questions.

Once upon a time reporters simply reported the news, a high wall separated reporting and editorial comment.  Today the editorial side drives the news side (“All the new that fits, we print”), an example, the NY Post. Every reporter is also an investigative reporter and Twitter comments are “news.”

“Clicks” drive the news cycle. We wake up in the morning and check our phone, what do our favorite websites say …. What stories garner the most “clicks” and “high-click” posts beget more coverage and more clicks, until the next cycle. “If it bleeds it leads” is the mantra of too many news outlets.

At one time New York City had four morning newspapers and three evening papers, today we have a seemingly endless array spewing forth “news”

Newspapers are online and headlines/articles change throughout the day (and night) and other news outlets pop up as well as substack and bloggers.

De Blasio was never able to control the news cycle.

If schools turn into super spreaders Adams, who insisted on a January 3rd school opening will have jumped off the diving board into an empty pool.

Cuomo managed the press effectively, he set the agenda, he dominated the face time, Machiavellian, he was more feared then loved. Until the day came, and the media hostility exploded, he could no longer control the press.

From Lindsay to de Blasio, liberal mayors bookend a half century that failed to address the Kerner commission policy recommendations.

… one main cause of urban violence was white racism … white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion. It called to create new jobs, construct new housing, and put a stop to de facto segregation in order to wipe out the destructive ghetto environment. In order to do so, the report recommended for government programs to provide needed services, to hire more diverse and sensitive police forces and, most notably, to invest billions in housing programs aimed at breaking up residential segregation.

Can a Black Mayor, a centrist politically, who portrays himself to the electorate as “one of them” confront the glaring inequities across the city?  Can he walk the line between crime fighter and racialized policing?  Can he work with teachers and their union in a collaborative environment or continue an aimless school system shifting from ukase to ukase?

An old, a very old adage, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”

One response to ““The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating,” Mayor Adams Takes the Stage

  1. Thanks for this. You taught me a new word: “ukase”. Hope new NYC mayor will learn from previous mistakes & successes.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s