This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the New York Post
This weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio will travel to New Hampshire, the latest stop on his presidential-flirtation tour. Last month, he took a similar swing through Iowa, another presidential-primary state, to test the waters of national politics.
Someone should remind him that a prerequisite of any run for higher office is, usually, success in your current job.
It’s becoming abundantly clear that, after five years of the de Blasio administration’s progressive policies, the city is in trouble.
A clear sign emerged last week, when local teachers union boss (and de Blasio ally) Michael Mulgrew admitted: “Our current discipline system is broken” and “doesn’t work for students or staff.” Mulgrew was referring to the de Blasio administration’s “warning-card” system and therapeutic approach to discipline, which in practice mean that students can smoke pot, threaten classmates and disrespect teachers with no real consequences.
Mulgrew is only the latest in a broad array of municipal union leaders who have stepped up to criticize the policies of a mayor with a special knack of demoralizing city workers while putting their safety and that of the general public at risk.
Whether they work at the NYPD, the Department of Correction, the Department of Homeless Services, and whether they are school safety officers or employees of the Department of Education, the complaints of rank-and-file workers are much the same: Progressive policies aren’t working, and we are quickly returning to the bad old days.
In addition, over the past few weeks, New Yorkers have seen crystal clear examples of the de Blasio administration’s ill-conceived belief that, if you throw huge amounts of money at a problem, it might go away.
First, we learned that the DOE was closing down the unsuccessful and scandal-ridden Renewal Schools program after spending $773 million on it. That was closely followed by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s after-the-fact alert that first lady Chirlane McCray’s pet mental health project, Thrive NYC, had blown through $850 million without much to show for it. It’s a point that I and many other serious mental health advocates have been making for a long time.
But it doesn’t end there. The proposed fiscal year 2020 city budget of $92.2 billion has raised eyebrows with nearly $3 billion in increased spending. This, despite a growing long-term debt that’s more than $81,000 per household and despite experts’ warning that the city is on the brink of bankruptcy, should a setback occur.
The city is already ranked number one when it comes to highest local tax burden, and homeowners have seen the property tax levy skyrocket 44 percent since de Blasio took office.
And what are New Yorkers getting for the high cost of living? Certainly not results.
Our homeless population has grown to 76,000, despite a record level of spending. The staggering annual cost per prisoner spent by the Department of Correction on those residing in our city’s jails has jumped to $300,000. Our subways are a disaster. Our streets are in disrepair. Health + Hospitals keeps hemorrhaging money. And then there’s NYCHA, where a tenant population slightly larger than the city of Cleveland is treated with malign bureaucratic neglect.
Rents are too damn high. There are empty storefronts everywhere. The middle class is shrinking. Sex crimes are on the rise. And no one who visits the city can ignore the public urination, the litter, the addicts openly injecting at needle-strewn parks and other sights and sounds reminiscent of the 1970s.
All these problems bring me around to one very simple question: What does Bill de Blasio say to the Democratic voters of South Carolina, Iowa or New Hampshire when they ask, “How are things going back home in New York?”