Ring of Fire: Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg Critic, Blares Protest Song

Mr. Bloomberg called the cuts to New York City “an outrage,” and liberal activists descended on Albany in protest.

Mr. de Blasio was not among them.

“I think a lot of what the governor has done was really important and necessary, showing that we could exercise restraint and think about the concerns of taxpayers while at the same time fulfilling the obligations of the government,” said Mr. de Blasio.

“I didn’t want the outcome we got,” he said on Tuesday. “Wish we had gotten more. But the bottom line is the governor had to balance an extremely difficult budget and that was in everybody’s interest, including the future of New York City. So, I just think Wolfson’s response misses that larger point.”

Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo are longtime allies. Before he worked for Ms. Clinton, Mr. de Blasio served under Mr. Cuomo in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration, and the public advocate aggressively promoted Mr. Cuomo’s campaign for governor last year.

“You’re not going to see Bill de Blasio running around saying, ‘Hey look, why don’t you send us some more money, Mr. Governor,'” said Hank Sheinkopf, the longtime Democratic strategist who worked on Mr. Bloomberg’s most recent re-election campaign and was speaking from a beach on Memorial Day.

“The politics of this is: Albany, the governor, have decided we’re not getting the kind of money we used to get,” said Mr. Sheinkopf. “Therefore you got to cut someplace. And the best thing to do, if you’re going to help your political allies, is to blame Mike Bloomberg, even though he’s not responsible.”

But, in Mr. de Blasio’s view, the cuts forced onto the city could be handled more sensitively.

“I laid out a series of alternative cuts I thought made a lot more sense,” he said. Those include reductions in teacher recruitment efforts–about $25 million–and scaling back outside consultants and technological work, some of which is “futuristic, but not as important as a classroom teacher.”

Mr. de Blasio suggested there were “less essential pieces” that could be trimmed from the budget before laying off teachers, calling the fight “somewhat ideological.”

“It’s not that the mayor and his people couldn’t find the money in the city budget; it was a choice,” Mr. de Blasio said. “And we have to portray it as such. It’s not about fiscal responsibility. It’s about philosophy.”

Whether Mr. de Blasio’s noisemaking will have any tangible effect on the city’s budget is a matter of some disagreement.

Mark Green, the city’s first public advocate–who frequently tangled with Mayor Rudy Giuliani over budget cuts and has subsequently run for office against both Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. de Blasio–said all the haranguing by Mr. de Blasio is late, and not entirely substantive.

“A public advocate should ideally either analytically expose bad policies or propose thoughtful alternatives,” said Mr. Green. “Protest letters and rallies taste great but are not very filling.”

apaybarah@observer.com

 

 

 

Ring of Fire: Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg Critic, Blares Protest Song