Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pre-K victory lap made a surprise stop at an Association for a Better New York breakfast this morning, where his deputy mayor for housing and economic development, Alicia Glen, was giving her first major speech.
After touting the importance of technology in developing the city’s economy and workforce, Ms. Glen turned to the well-heeled audience, filled with lobbyists, business leaders and tech champions.
“Is there anyone here who wanted to add anything?” she asked.
Out bounded Mr. de Blasio, who had ditched his usual tie, as Ms. Glen feigned dramatic surprise .
“I heard there was a really hip gathering where people don’t wear ties,” said Mr. de Blasio. “You know, those of us, Alicia, who are in the new economy, we don’t really believe in that formality.”
“I want to thank Bill Rudin for having liberating me from the tie,” he further joked, making reference to the association’s leader and touting his “very groovy look.”
The appearance was a homecoming of sorts for the new mayor. Mr. de Blasio had appeared in front of the same group of business leaders–which he had then dubbed the “lion’s den”–nearly 18 months ago to the day to unveil his signature campaign plan to hike taxes on the city’s richest to fund universal pre-K. At the time, he was a long-shot candidate. But this time, he came to tout the $300 million for the program that was signed into law by the governor Monday. Mr. de Blasio has repeatedly touted the win as historic.
In his remarks, Mr. de Blasio noted how “almost exactly a year-and-a-half-ago, in a room just like this” he introduced his plan. “Eighteen months ago, it looked like a very, very difficult challenged. It looked to many people like an impossibility,” he said.
But, said the mayor, “Over the last 18 months, the people of this city have really listened … and it was their voices that ultimately won the day in Albany.”
“The idea may have seemed unlikely at the time, but the amazing thing is that on Monday, the world changed for the better. The vote was taken in Albany. We now have the resources to make these profound changes in our schools,” he said.
Before departing, Mr. de Blasio jested that he liked the idea of taking off and leaving Ms. Glen to answer audience questions.
“This is my new model for governance. Let’s end all the press conference at City Hall like this, Alicia,” he joked. “It’s like a designated hitter.”
In her own remarks, Ms. Glen, who admitted she still uses an old-school flip phone and just joined Twitter, touted the benefits of the city’s tech industry and insisted that economic development and creating affordable housing–her two primary tasks–were part of the same mission.
“Our objective is to catalyze dynamic mixed use, mixed income projects that attract good paying jobs and enhance our built environment,” she said.