Michael Goodwin: New York City needs help — have any would-be mayors noticed De Blasio’s failures?

on Dec9
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Another day, another candidate for New York City mayor. If only quantity could substitute for quality.

We’re approaching a dozen already and it’s worrisome that there’s little evidence the candidates have learned much from Mayor de Blasio’s numerous and critical failings. Wary of offending his supporters in this ocean of deep blue voters, they are even reluctant to criticize what is obviously his disastrous tenure.

Most important, none of the wannabes is talking honestly about the comeback of crime and the role it is playing in causing the stampede to the suburbs. While the COVID spread and the resulting restrictions are destroying the economy, they will pass, hopefully soon, thanks to the vaccine and improved therapeutics.

But that will have zero impact on crime, which is raging and shows no signs of slowing down. Through Nov. 29, NYPD statistics report that there have been 420 murders already this year, as opposed 304 at the same time last year, an increase of 38 percent.

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Shootings have doubled, burglary is up 42 percent and car thefts 67 percent. In the midst of a mayoral race, the city is racing back to the bad old days of crime gone wild.

But if the candidates know this — and they must — they won’t touch it. Instead, they talk as if New York can be fixed simply by tidying up around the edges a bit and increasing handouts to the ever-growing ranks of the needy.

Of course, they dare not use the word handouts. It’s always “investments” or “subsidies.”

Shaun Donovan is the latest Democrat to announce his candidacy, saying Tuesday he’s running “to repair the fabric of the city, pull New Yorkers together to rebuild from the damage wrought by COVID, and reimagine an innovative city that truly works for everyone.”

That all sounds very nice, but what does it mean? What does anything mean if you have to live in fear of getting mugged or shot?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how fast years of prosperity and stability can be erased. New York has fallen into a hole and must work to earn the trust of its residents if it is to keep them and attract new ones.

On his Web site, Donovan, who was housing commissioner under Mike Bloomberg before becoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Barack Obama’s administration, features several pictures of himself with the former president. His position stances are so bland that calling them platitudes makes them sound more meaningful than they are.

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This no-risk, no-offense strategy is wildly out of place in a clear emergency. With the primaries scheduled for June 22, voters deserve to know the candidates’ specific positions on fundamental issues.

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My checklist has three litmus tests.

First, New York needs a mayor who isn’t afraid to support the police and is willing to let them make the streets safe again. A candidate who won’t say that now is certainly not going to do it when he or she gets into office.

So murder and mayhem will continue to spread and veteran cops will continue to quit because they get no support from City Hall. All the bromides about inequality and racial justice won’t matter if crime isn’t checked. Ask Baltimore or Chicago.

Second, the next mayor must demand excellence from the school system. That means reversing the dumbed-down mediocrity de Blasio and his chancellor, Richard Carranza, created while they were busy counting racial beans.

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Part of the commitment to excellence means embracing charter schools. It was practically criminal the way de Blasio and Carranza demonized those schools and abandoned their students, most of whom come from neighborhoods where the regular public schools are disasters. Charters are a godsend, and the new mayor must support the best ones and create more.

Third, New York needs a mayor who is honest about the fiscal situation and the fact that raising taxes will be another reason for more people to leave. The city is no longer such an appealing place — and perhaps won’t be for several years at least — that it can be flippant about the quality of life and the cost of living here.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how fast years of prosperity and stability can be erased. New York has fallen into a hole and must work to earn the trust of its residents if it is to keep them and attract new ones.

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Unfortunately, I’m not hearing that kind of forthright talk from the candidates, a failure that echoes something Sen. Marco Rubio said in assessing Joe Biden’s early Cabinet picks. Noting the usual crowd of Ivy League grads with long Washington resumes but a lack of commitment to American greatness, the Florida Republican called them “polite and orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”

New York doesn’t need a mayor to manage its decline. It needs one who will lead it to new heights of greatness. I’m still looking for that candidate.

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