The St. George Theater on Staten Island was packed with political dignitaries for Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City speech, among them most of those who may vie to replace him in 2013.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who will carry the banner of organized labor if he runs in 2013, said that while many of the Mayor’s policy specifics were good ideas, a speech that rallied the city around a cause and laid out a broader vision would have been better.
“He’s got a a lot of making up to do, particularly after the storm when people didn’t see the kind of urgency, the kind of focus they would have wanted,” ee Blasio said. “I think he would be better served to raise some bigger vision that could unite the city, that gives people an opportunity to participate in the process against this kind of a classically top-down approach that we have seen from the mayor before.”
He added that the mayor still hasn’t properly come to terms with the blizzard clean-up failure, and said the State of the City would have been a good moment for it.
“Obviously there was no point in this where there was any acknowledgement of past mistakes. I think this would have been an occasion to say look we had a bad few weeks, we made some real mistakes here in the city we are not going to let that happen again. I think it would have helped if he had said that there really squarely. He had an opportunity to really re-set the tone and he chose not to do that,” de Blasio said.
John Liu, who if he runs would need to rely on the coalition of black, Hispanic, and Asian voters that propelled him into the comptroller’s chair, said that he disagreed with the mayor that pensions were the number one issue facing the city.
“The budget crisis is the most critical issue facing the city over the next few months as the new budget for the new fiscal year must be resolved. Rising pension costs are a problem as are other costs that are rising for the city,” he said.
And although he agreed that pension reform is important, Liu took issue with Bloomberg’s approach.
Everybody is in agreement that something needs to be done. There aren’t any new idea here that haven’t been talked about in the past,” he said. “I support having a discussion with everybody at the table and not picking apart one provision versus another provision and talking about them in isolation. None of this should be isolated. It’s about the total package of retirement plans. It is also about the total compensation package as compared to the private sector. It is important to compare apples to apples and not look at one thing here and one thing there and not look at the big picture.”
For her part, Council Speaker Christine Quinn continued to hitch her wagon to Bloomberg, declining after repeated questioning to say if there was anything in the mayor’s speech that she disagreed with. And she said she backed both his pension reform proposal and his plan to not raise taxes.
“New York City and New York State are heavily taxed places,” she said. “We are at a risk of losing more and more people to taxes on a regular basis. So I support the mayor in saying we are not going to balance the budget by raising taxes. There are only so many times you can go back to that well before that well runs dry.”
And Manahttan Borough President Scott Stringer, who would compete with Quinn for the votes of Manhattan liberals in a 2013 race, said that speech was light on specifics.
“It is not enough just to ask Albany for a wish list of changes. The speech could have outlined the city’s strategy to engage the state legislature to achieve outcomes so important to the future of New York. We need an economic and political playbook that truly plans ahead and produces results. Bold pronouncements absent a collaborative plan of action will result in more of the same.”
We have reached out to Anthony Weiner and Bill Thompson–two other officials who were absent today but are frequently mentioned in 2013 conversations. Thompson did not return phone calls seeking comment, and Weiner’s office said he would not comment on the speech at this time.