Municipal Government, New York

Will Workfolk Fare Better Under de Blasio?

March 31, 2015
By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—The journalist, historian and The Nation columnist Eric Alterman answered in the affirmative when he said in the accompanying video interview that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration wants to get the job done for ordinary folk unlike de Blasio’s two predecessors. 

Mr. Alterman just published his tenth book, Inequality and One City: Bill de Blasio and the New York Experiment, Year One, which can be downloaded from The Nation’s website. He argues that de Blasio, who said during his 2013 election run that economic inequality was the greatest issue facing New York City, and his administration are committed to reversing the growing gap.

“When you’re the mayor, and you have the city council backing you up, you can pass laws that actually directly affect people right away. To me the most interesting thing about the people that this mayor has appointed, many of whom he didn’t know very well, are people who want to get the job done for people who aren’t powerful or influential and have been ignored for the past 20 years,” said Alterman.

In one chapter Alterman notes that possibly the best mechanism for de Blasio to narrow growing income inequality is repairing, upgrading and building new infrastructure. The problem, however, is that Congress still has not passed a multi-year transportation bill, even though President Obama and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx have proposed a six-year, $478 billion plan. In fact, the transportation secretary issued a new press release on Monday morning saying his department submitted an enhanced version of last year’s bill to Congress.

“The administration is looking for creative ways to fund it. But because federal funding has almost disappeared and Albany uptight and this governor refuses to do anything that would upset any rich person in any way, they’re restricted in what they could do. I don’t know if I were mayor that I’d be able to do anything differently than what they’re doing. I think that issue is well understood—we’re not going to get what we need, but we’re going to do a lot better than we’ve done in the past,” Alterman said.

Alterman also chronicles in his new book the many examples of New York’s tabloid press attacking de Blasio for his stance on income inequality. We then asked him about a review of his book written by NY1’s political reporter Josh Robin, and published on the Capital New York website, who argues that Alterman’s book is an “aggressively laudatory document.”

“He obviously felt much warmer towards Bloomberg and felt that by taking de Blasio seriously one was mitigating Bloomberg’s legacy. But the fact is I examined Bloomberg’s policies in my book [but] there were no discussions of the policies in that review. It was just that I was upset at Bloomberg. This demonstrated to me the defensiveness on the part of this particular press corps that they have towards Bloomberg.”

We then asked Alterman should we expect a forthcoming “Year Two” of Inequality and One City?

“You could expect it, but you’re not going to get it, like much in life,” Alterman said.

@marcbuss marc@laborpress.org

March 31, 2015

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