Bill de Blasio Reaffirms Liberal Vision at Clergy Assembly

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the Metro IAF Assembly yesterday. (Photo: Vanessa Ogle)

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the Metro IAF Assembly yesterday. (Photo: Vanessa Ogle)

Appearing in front of an influential clergy coalition, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a brief recap of the liberal achievements of his young administration yesterday, sidestepping recent setbacks.

“We’re living a tale of two cities. There are too many people suffering,” Mr. de Blasio told the group, repeating his campaign theme at a meeting of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a sprawling coalition of multi-faith congregations in the tri-state area. “We can’t continue policies that don’t address that.”

Speaking at a posh Brooklyn Marriott hotel nearly three months into his tenure, Mr. de Blasio promised the group an audience at City Hall and a commitment to the liberal vision that helped him win the mayoral race last year.

He made no mention of one of his greatest policy setbacks so far: a provision in the state budget deal forged late Friday that requires the city to find space for charter schools and bars the city from charging charter schools rent. Still, he hailed the state funding it includes for the prekindergarten expansion he championed, ignoring his unsuccessful quest for a tax hike to fund the roll-out.

Mr. de Blasio also emphasized his far-reaching affordable housing plan, Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, policing reforms and concessions he extracted from builders at two major Bloomberg-era developments. All have been relatively obscured by his recent battles with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the charter school lobby.

“We’re also reaching to our historic, historic first source of affordable housing, which is NYCHA, which has been in so many ways forgotten, left behind, disinvested in by the federal government,” Mr. de Blasio declared. “We’re changing that right now because right now as we speak, we ended the requirement for this year for NYCHA to have to pay for police services which put 52 million dollars back in NYCHA’s budget to make repairs for people who need repairs.”

Mr. de Blasio pivoted to Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, pointing to federal money recently secured to fund rebuilding.

“The storm was so painful, so horrible to so many people,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Yet we are going to take from that tragedy and find a way to build something better … We’re going to ensure that every homeowner who lost their home in Sandy gets their home rebuilt and we’re going to make sure people affected get jobs in the process. And I have said they need to be living wage jobs.”

The mayor also promised he would not accept “business as usual” from the real estate industry, noting his administration’s ability to coax developers at the Domino Sugar site in Brooklyn and Hudson Yards in Manhattan to build more affordable housing than originally promised.

In addition, Mr. de Blasio made sure to mention, to much applause, that he had settled a stop-and-frisk lawsuit and worked to improve relations between the NYPD and minority communities.

“From the beginning–I said this at the forum last year–it was a false choice presented to us by some. You either have a safe city or a fair city, take your pick,” he said. “Now wait, false choice. You need a city that’s safe and fair.”