Bill de Blasio says that most New Yorkers don’t care that he’s consistently late for many things, including a memorial service for the victims of Flight 587, which crashed after takeoff from JFK Airport 13 years ago. The mayor said he was late for the event, held earlier this month, because he had a “very rough night.”
Restless nights are one of the hazards of being mayor of New York—it’s why we pay our chief executive the big bucks. If you were staring at the wrong end of escalating health care and pension costs or wondering how you’ll pay your debts to the city’s public employee unions, well, you’d lose a little sleep, too.
So there’s no reason to doubt Mr. de Blasio’s explanation. But consider this: What would Bill de Blasio have said if Mike Bloomberg missed a memorial for more than 200 New Yorkers and used that kind of excuse? Mr. de Blasio no doubt would have portrayed the mayor as uncaring, heartless and arrogant, so caught up in his own world that he could spare no time for hundreds of people still grieving for lost loved ones.
But Mayor de Blasio is not a plutocrat. He is a man of the people. He is empathetic. He wishes his fellow Democrats could be more like him—proudly progressive, emphatically on the side of the poor and disenfranchised as they battle with the wealthy few.
So if he is late for a ceremony organized by members of the city’s Dominican community—the doomed flight was bound for the Dominican Republic—nobody should make too much of it. It’s not that he doesn’t care. He just had a tough night. Just one of those things, you know?
Imagine telling that to your boss, or to your employees, or to you stockholders. It wouldn’t fly. And it shouldn’t.
Mr. de Blasio dismissed concerns about his chronic lateness as “inside baseball,” the sort of thing journalists care about but nobody else does. It’s certainly true that most New Yorkers haven’t experienced the mayor’s tardiness in person, but then again, he’s only been on the job for 11 months. Give him some time.
On second thought, don’t. More time is the last thing he needs.
Mr. de Blasio’s lateness is rude, pure and simple. It is a sign that for all his populist rhetoric, he simply doesn’t care about keeping other people—grieving relatives, his own staff—waiting. Maybe he’d show up on time to give a stem-winder about the evils of income inequality. But more prosaic events, particularly those involving ordinary people? Heck, they can wait. The mayor of New York has lots of rough nights.
As mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio is entitled to a measure of respect based on the office he holds. That’s why some people refer to him as “Your Honor.”
It would be nice if His Honor made a point of showing some respect of his own.