The Mayor Learns to Play Nice

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference after witnessing police being retrained with new guidelines at the Police Academy on December 4, 2014 in the College Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of in New York City. The new police guidelines come on the heels of numerous national incidences where white police officers have killed black men. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference at the Police Academy on December 4, 2014 in the College Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of in New York City. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images) (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Mayor de Blasio has at last discovered kind things to say about his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg.

For example, Mr. de Blasio complimented Mr. Bloomberg’s “vision and energy” in pushing through the No. 7 subway line, and for winning mayoral control of the schools. Whether Mr. de Blasio is begrudgingly coming to realize that Mr. Bloomberg did a very good job as mayor is secondary. What is important is that Mr. de Blasio is coming to recognize that running New York is a hard job.

We hope that Mr. de Blasio is beginning to understand that the job of mayor is made harder when you think promoting a national agenda deserves as much of your time and energy as the job to which you were elected. Hosting a forum in Iowa on income inequality or visiting Nebraska to push for minimum wage increases might convince Mr. de Blasio that he is pushing the presidential candidates to adopt more liberal positions. They might even salve the mayor’s wounded ego. But they do little to help New Yorkers.

The challenges that face New York cannot be met by a mayor who is only here part-time, who thinks that rhetoric can substitute for analysis, or who engages in ego-driven spats.

It would be a better use of Mr. de Blasio’s time if he hiked up to Albany to repair his frayed relationship with Gov. Cuomo. Not only does the city depend on state revenue for a substantial portion of the city budget, authority for much of what the mayor hopes to accomplish is dependent upon the State Legislature and governor granting authority. There is very little upside for a fairly unpopular mayor to sustain a testosterone battle with a powerful governor. Very simply, it may be time for Mr. de Blasio to eat some humble pie.

Nonetheless, at least with respect to Mr. Bloomberg, we are happy that Mr. de Blasio has begun to understand history more accurately. The mayor seems to be learning this most basic lesson in human relations: give credit where it is due. With an eye on even greater strides, we recommend a seminal text: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

For the mayor whose principal accomplishment during his first 20 months in office has been the expansion of pre-K programs, the best seller first published in 1989 really does offer some much-needed wisdom: share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, put things back where you found them and clean up your own mess.

The challenges that face New York cannot be met by a mayor who is only here part-time, who thinks that rhetoric can substitute for analysis, or who engages in ego-driven spats. Mr. de Blasio has a responsibility to all New Yorkers—not just to those who voted for him. He can make real strides toward that end by learning how to play nicely.

The Mayor Learns to Play Nice