Bill de Blasio Doesn’t Want to Talk About Albany Right Now

Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this year. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this year. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Photo: Spencer Platt for Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio had little to say today about the impending end of an Albany legislative session that awarded him few victories—insisting that despite the announcement of a “framework” deal on a slew of key issues, the session isn’t over until it’s over.

“Albany is continuing its session as we speak,” Mr. de Blasio said, a theme he returned to over and over as reporters pressed him on rent regulation, the 421a tax credit, mayoral control of city schools, and other issues Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, indicated that state leaders had settled yesterday.

Mr. Cuomo, with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat and State Senate Leader John Flanagan, a Republican, said yesterday that they—Albany’s “three men in a room”—announced the “conceptual framework” of a deal on outstanding legislative issues.

None of the aspects of the “conceptual framework” were particularly good for Mr. de Blasio. The mayor had once hoped for a permanent grant of control over city schools; the legislature will approve just a year. The mayor wanted an end to vacancy decontrol as part of an overhaul of rent regulations; the legislature will merely bump up the rent at which a landlord can remove an apartment from regulation. The mayor wanted a sweeping reform of the 421a tax credit; the legislature will extend it for six months and let labor and the real estate industry, which had backed the mayor’s plan, duke it out over issues including paying contractors a prevailing wage—which Mr. de Blasio believes will cost the city thousands of units of affordable housing.

And that’s without mentioning the de Blasio priorities the State Legislature never even got around to seriously discussing, like the minimum wage.

Framework or not, Mr. de Blasio repeatedly noted that the Assembly—on which he heaped praise—and the Senate haven’t voted yet.

“I want to thank the New York State Assembly that has been consistently responsive to the city’s concerns. They’ve been serious, they’ve been resolute, and they’ve gotten a lot done, particularly on issues like rent regulation. And that issue, as you know, is still being debated as we speak, although we see some very promising signs on rent regulation. 421a is now very much on the table,” Mr. de Blasio said. “There’s a real dialogue happening on that right now. So I think we all need to step back and see where this process is leading us.”

What about mayoral control, which would seem to be a done deal—and an insult to Mr. de Blasio, who will be granted less time than his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ever got when he asked to run the city’s schools?

He didn’t want to talk about that, either.

“I’ll have plenty to say about that when the session is over. Right now, our focus is on rent regulation and 421a,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Then what of his strategy in Albany? The one that included trying to unseat GOP state senators who now have no reason to work with him—and perhaps are enjoying giving him a hard time? Was campaigning against them a mistake?

“No,” he said simply.

A reporter tried to squeeze a little more out of him on that one.

“I think, as I’ve said many times, all over this country, it is normal for a member of a political party to support other members of that political party,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It’s just as simple as that.”

He wouldn’t weigh in on whether tenant advocates were right to be angry with Mr. Cuomo over rent regulations—”that issue is still being debated right now”—nor on how he thinks a straight extender on 421a for six months will affect his affordable housing plan, again insisting there was “real dialogue” going on and that his focus was on increasing the amount of affordable housing requiring through the tax break.

And then, perhaps the elephant in the room: Mr. de Blasio’s relationship with Mr. Cuomo. Under the cloak of anonymous sourcing in the Wall Street Journal, de Blasio and Cuomo officials traded barbs after the announcement of the framework. Had the deal announced yesterday added further tension between the men who have often proclaimed to be friends?

“You know, again, right now, real work is happening in Albany. And we’re very focused on the 421a issue. We’re very focused on the rent issue,” Mr. de Blasio said. “As I said—very, very appreciative of the Assembly’s efforts and the speaker’s efforts. I’ll have more to say on other situations later on.”

Neither house has voted yet on the framework—which leaders have indicated could change—and bill language has yet to surface.

Bill de Blasio Doesn’t Want to Talk About Albany Right Now