New York City Deserves a Serious Mayor

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Exasperated.

That is the best way to describe our attitude toward Bill de Blasio. Every week there is yet another example of lack of interest, lack of initiative, or lack of understanding. This week there were all three.

The first was when the mayor decided to skip the six-hour police standoff with an armed gang leader on Staten Island who had already shot a firefighter. True, he really couldn’t have added much to the competent police work that resulted in the death of the perpetrator. So it was probably best that the mayor wasn’t on the scene. But it was sneaking out of a back door at the Brooklyn Y where he had been working out—rather than face reporters—that galled us, along with the rest of the New York City press corps, which expects a full-time mayor. Despite Mr. de Blasio’s bizarre revisionism that the press corps treated his predecessor with “kid gloves,” it’s a fair demand and he ought not to count on expectations easing any time soon.

Two-thirds of kids are failing. That is the headline, and it should be as unacceptable to the mayor as it is to us.

Second, the mayor created a $150,000 post for Stephanie Yazgi—the longtime girlfriend of his top strategist, Emma Wolfe. We have no problem with hiring capable, trusted aides—even at exorbitant salaries, if that is what the post demands. But Ms. Yazgi’s position is “campaign director” in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. According to the job description provided by City Hall, that involves “overseeing the mayor’s national organizing efforts on immigration, specifically the Cities for Action on Immigration coalition.”

Given that so much of the city is deteriorating at the edges—shootings are up, the homeless have taken over public spaces, squeegee men have reappeared, fights between costumed characters are routine in Times Square—the mayor should spend less time promoting his national agenda and focus on real problems here at home.

Third, test scores were announced, and despite the mayor’s press releases hailing the most minuscule gains, New York City schools and kids are still failing. Only 38.5 percent of third graders passed the statewide math exam; 30.2 percent passed the English test. Both percentages are virtually unchanged since a year earlier. Eighth graders fared even worse on math: only 22.5 percent were deemed proficient, though 32.9 percent passed the English test.

Two-thirds of kids are failing. That is the headline, and it should be as unacceptable to the mayor as it is to us. But instead, he derides those from whom city schools can learn an important lesson: the best-performing charter schools. The charter schools run by Success Academies had 93 percent of students passing math and 68 percent passing English. Instead of fighting with the charters and depriving them of space in available city buildings, the mayor should be embracing them; and asking: “What can we learn from them?”

In his first two years in office, Mr. de Blasio has exhibited neither the interest in, nor the capability to manage the city’s affairs. It is not too early to encourage serious candidates to begin the process of challenging him in 2017.

New York City Deserves a Serious Mayor