Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio offered a pointed critique of his predecessor today, saying Michael Bloomberg’s refusal to acknowledge the city’s growing inequality would mar his administration’s legacy.
The current mayor has spent the past week criss-crossing the five boroughs, touting his accomplishments in areas including job growth, affordable housing construction and his investments in new infrastructure projects, such as the new 7 train extension.
But speaking at a press conference announcing his latest appointment, Mr. de Blasio said Mr. Bloomberg would also be remembered as the mayor who turned his back on growing inequality following the Great Recession.
“I think it’s decidedly mixed,” said Mr. de Blasio when asked to rate Mr. Bloomberg’s legacy.
“I think there’s some areas where history will smile on him,” he said, pointing to Mr. Bloomberg’s efforts to improve the environment, sustainability and public health–“areas that I very often agree with him.”
“There’s areas where people will actually be able to say a lot of good about his legacy. And then there is the core problem: He did not address inequality. He looked away from it. He governed during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. But he never addressed it, spoke to it, changed his policies to actively address the suffering of our people. And the inequality grew,” said Mr. de Blasio, whose campaign centered on that critique.
Mr. Bloomberg, he continued, “didn’t create the economic crisis, but he didn’t respond to it the way I think was necessary. So it will be a mixed legacy. But we will pick up the good in the Bloomberg legacy and continue it. And then we will decidedly write a new chapter.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s spokesman declined to comment, but the mayor has long argued New York has done more to help the disadvantaged than any other major city and notes it recovered from the recession far faster than the country as a whole. He has also repeatedly noted that, while other major cities have experienced spikes in poverty over the course of his tenure, the city’s rate has remained steady over the past 12 years–an accomplishment by comparison, he argues.