“Some are born great, some attain greatness, and others attain greatness,” wrote William Shakespeare. We’re figuring out if Eric Adams fits into any of these categories.
New Yorkers should ask that he do so.
The city’s next mayor will certainly not miss the opportunity to make his mark. Adams follows the worst CEO New York has had in modern times, and wherever he looks, the situation is serious and requires attention.
Crime, disorder, homelessness, unemployment, education, transport – they are all reaching crisis proportions. Although the established Bill de Blasio did not on his own create the mess, he was always a willing and eager accomplice.
When he thought he was a great progressive, his term of office was a setback for progress on almost all fronts. Corrupt, lazy and incompetent, his departure alone will be reason to celebrate January 1st.
To get a sense of what Adams will face and what could have been, it is helpful to contrast today’s Gotham with the city of de Blasio, which was inherited eight years ago. The difference is night and day.
Michael Bloomberg, whose three terms ended in 2013, built on Rudy Giuliani’s successes, and their combined 20 years at City Hall created a golden age of peace and prosperity.
As crime reached historic lows, New York became a magnet for jobs, entrepreneurs, tourists and dreamers from around the world. The long-standing questions of whether New York was capable of governing had been answered with a resounding yes, and the city shone like never before.
De Blasio, a youthful radical who admired Cuba and the Soviet Union, never seemed to have much love for New York and proved it with destructive policies and staff choices that managed to undo much of the progress of his predecessors. The pandemic gave yet another reason why tens of thousands deposited and never returned.
Yet the beauty of New York is that the past is not necessarily a prologue. Even a brief history of successful mayors provides plenty of reason to hope that Adams can repair what has broken.
My list includes Ed Koch as well as Giuliani and Bloomberg, where all three passed the same litmus test: They began their tenure while the city was at the landfill and changed direction dramatically to make things much better before traveling.
Koch took office in 1978, when the financial crisis had ruined services and pushed the city to the brink of bankruptcy. With the power of personality, common sense politics, and a deep devotion to New York, Koch restored the city to its self-confidence and delivered a renewal.
Giuliani was first elected in 1993, which was the culmination of the crime epidemic. Over the previous 25 years, the number of murders had increased from about 600 a year to more than 2,000.
Through 1997, the end of his first term, murders fell by more than half to 767, the lowest number in 30 years. That miracle was delivered by a revolution in policing, making Giuliani’s first four years probably the greatest and most important in 100 years.
Four years later came 9/11 and Bloomberg was chosen in the aftermath of its hell. Ground Zero was still smoldering, and the city looked and felt as if it would never recover from the fear and destruction.
It did, of course, but de Blasio made it a point to reverse almost any Bloomberg policy, including the most successful ones. The humiliation of Bloomberg by de Blasio’s inauguration set the tone for an administration that turned back time in all the worst ways.
Fortunately, Adams seems to understand all of this. He spent the last two decades in Albany as a state senator and then as Brooklyn city president, political jobs that gave him a close-up of what works and what does not in senior positions.
But his most relevant experience to the biggest challenge he faces came as a police officer and captain. Although he was best known for his advocacy against brutality, Adam’s campaign led to a promise to tame the violent wave of crime that has stunned the five boroughs.
In fact, among a large Democratic primary field that spanned from left to far, far left, Adams stood out for his focus on public safety.
He repeatedly said that “the precondition for prosperity is security” and emphasized his commitment by appearing at several major crime scenes, including a shooting in Times Square, even though de Blasio was absent. Adam’s pledge to restore an undercover police unit that focused on getting illegal weapons off the streets was a particularly courageous move because most of his Democratic rivals were against the idea.
Adams, who will be the city’s second black mayor, also breaks with the herd by promising to stop de Blasio’s anti-business approach, a focus he no doubt sharpened in private conversations with Bloomberg. And he excelled at pushing for more talented and talented programs in public schools and supporting charter schools.
In summary of his triumph on primary night, he said he was becoming “the new face of the Democratic Party” and promised to show America how to run a city.
It’s hard to imagine a more refreshing approach after eight years with a mayor creating his tenure around the far left. In the world of de Blasio, results do not mean nearly as much as intent and ideology.
Adams realizes that this is the main reason why de Blasio failed, just as he realizes that success means paying attention to the details of everyday life in New York.
“Everyone is trying to figure me out because I refuse to fit into this nice little package,” he told Juan Williams in August. “People say, ‘We do not know who he is.’ Listen, I know New Yorkers. New Yorkers want to be safe. They want their children educated; they want [jobs] . . . They could not care less if you call them left or right. “
Bingo. Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg all approached the job from a similar point of view. If Adams can match their success and herald yet another renewal of common progress, he will have achieved greatness in the ways that matter to millions of people.
Good luck to him as he begins his journey.
Epic mistake of the chief: prez putz!
Jeff Durstewitz looks double and writes: “When examining the wreck of the Biden presidency, a parallel immediately suggests: Joe Biden is de Blasio, with the same combination of arrogance and sovereign stupidity, but at the national level.
“I suggest it’s time to start calling him what he is: President Putz.”
Vox Pop-uli on Team Biden
Susan Cienfuegos is not happy that a court is trying to determine if Strawberry Pop Tarts have enough strawberries. She writes:
“I would rather the court scrap that case and decide how many nuts there are in the White House.
“It’s important to prioritize!”
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