Bill de Blasio, the current frontrunner in the Democratic primary for mayor, has been running his second television commercial of the campaign, titled “Dignity,” since Monday. Fact checking the ad, Michael Barbaro of the NY Times found it quite misleading. Mr. de Blasio argues he’s the only candidate pledging to end the way the Police Department carries out the stop-and-frisk tactic. The problem with that claim is that his opponents have all, in one way or another, pledged to reform it, too.
Nor is Mr. de Blasio, per his claim, the only candidate proposing an income tax on the rich to pay for education. John C. Liu, the city comptroller, has proposed raising the city’s marginal income tax to pay for after-school programs, among other things.
“Dropping the misleading word ‘only’ from several of his claims, or using it more carefully, would do wonders for the accuracy and credibility of his commercials,” Barbaro concludes.
Bill de Blasio’s exaggerating his role as an advocate for the issues he believes are at the top of voters’ concerns is nothing new. In fact, his record of representing the outer-boroughs, as he now promises not to let down any New Yorker, is far from exhilarating.
Back in 2001, when he first ran for City Council in the 39th district, Mr. de Blasio was examined for mismanagement and controversial ties that had put in question his credentials at the time. “[Bill de Blasio] carries a lot of baggage as well,” The Village Voice wrote in a profile on the race for council.
“De Blasio was elected to School Board 15 in 1999, and his tenure has been rocky. Many public school parents charge that de Blasio was stubbornly supportive of Frank DeStefano, the former superintendent of District 15 who resigned in the winter amid allegations of overspending and mismanagement. Reports first surfaced in the fall of 1999 that DeStefano had begun to run up big deficits, taking himself and other school officials on several expensive junkets costing a total of more than $100,000. One year later the school deficit topped $1 million, leading to the cancellation of a popular after-school reading program while DeStefano maintained an expensive car service.
“De Blasio still defends his decision to stick with DeStefano for as long as he did. “He was a visionary and a great educator, but he was a horrible communicator,” de Blasio says of DeStefano. “I was deeply concerned, but I was not going to make a final decision until I saw the evidence.” In the end, de Blasio says, “he could have made better decisions, but I don’t think the spending was wildly excessive. Both of my parents were victims of the McCarthy era. I do not take lightly the idea of ousting someone. You have to have the evidence.”
“De Blasio has also been linked to the flap over New Square, the Hasidic village in upstate New York that has been mired in pardon scandals. Candidate Clinton assiduously courted the small Rockland community last year, winning the town by the whopping margin of 1400 to 12. Six weeks after the election, Israel Spitzer, New Square’s deputy mayor, met with the Clintons at the White House, where pardons for four New Square civic leaders convicted of fraud were discussed. In January, Bill Clinton commuted their sentences, leading to a probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which several Hillary Clinton campaign aides were called in for questioning. At a Manhattan fundraiser for de Blasio in December, Spitzer made a $2500 donation, the largest permitted under the city’s Campaign Finance Board. De Blasio refused to comment on that matter, including the issue of whether he was questioned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. De Blasio would only offer this comment: “I’m waiting to hear what’s going to happen with that.”
in 2007 as councilman, Mr. de Blasio was lambasted for not living up to his promises and for a lackluster performance as representative of his district. In a hard hitting piece by a local blogger named “Parden Me For Asking,” Mr. de Blasio was criticized for running a dysfunctional office and keeping himself distracted from the issues that mattered to the neighborhoods he represented, going back to his time he served on the Board of Education before his run for council.
“Unfortunately, he was a bit distracted while he served in this position. So distracted in fact that he did not pay attention to the pleas of a group of parents from P.S. 58 to look into the excessive spending of District 15′s Superintendent Frank DeStefano,” the blogger wrote. ”I was one of those parents. Bill DeBlasio doggedly supported DeStefano, refusing to question the district’s spending and to investigate the many budget irregularities.”
“How could Bill DeBlasio have missed all the warning signs though he had been warned? The answer is very simple: while he sat on the School Board, he was Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Manager for her New York State Senatorial Race. During that time, Bill was simply absent, busy with Hillary, busy with making a name for himself and most importantly busy with setting the stage for his own campaign for City Council a year later.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that Bill DeBlasio let parents of District 15 down big time by showing up late and by taking telephone calls from Hillary instead of paying attention at meetings. It explains his continued support for DeStefano while the press was investigating and exposing his wrongdoings.
“As we all know, Bill deBlasio went on to win the 39th District Council Seat. His performance as representative of the community has been lackluster at best. All one has to do is to check some of the comments left on neighborhood chat rooms and neighborhood blogs. His constituents are fed up with him.
“Bill DeBlasio does not follow through on issues, runs a dysfunctional office and has been on the wrong side of more than a few issues. If you don’t agree, just try to get someone from his Brooklyn office to return a call, or try to get some information from his assistants. I guarantee you won’t get anywhere. Bill DeBlasio has been absent once again from the community that elected him.
“And now news that Bill was campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Iowa last week. We should not be surprised. Four years ago, he was working on Edwards’ campaign. While Carroll Gardeners are still trying to get the Councilman’s help in down-zoning their neighborhood and in fighting off rogue architect Robert Scarano, deBlasio is dealing with national issues.
“Good for him, but bad for his local constituents. But then, Bill did not become our Councilman because he cared about local issues. Rather, he used our district as a stepping stone to further his own political career, the same way that he used our school board and our children to get elected to City Council.
“Bill deBlasio is slick: a great politician but a miserable representative. By that I mean that he will stop at nothing to claw his way to the top of the political ladder. However, he forgets that political office comes with responsibility. It is about time that we demand to be represented by a man who promised to be our advocate as well as our voice, a role he can hardly perform if he is in Iowa, working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign as well as on his own campaign for Borough President.
“Lets make sure to let the rest of Brooklyn know that Bill has not lived up to his promises in the 39th Council District. Because it is not enough to be able to play the political game. It is more important to represent…and represent well. Something that Bill deBlasio has yet to learn,” the blogger concluded his review.
Just recently, two staffers were forced to resign over anti NYPD, racist and antisemitic tweets. “If Bill de Blasio is the company he keeps, his mayoral campaign could be in serious trouble,” Lauren Evans wrote last month in the Gothamist. “Only a few weeks after one of his campaign aides was caught bashing the police and NAACP on Twitter, another staffer was revealed today to have similarly poor judgment when it comes to “Things Not to Say on the Internet.”
Mr. de Blasio’s activity at the Public Advocate’s office for the past three and a half years also remains a mystery to many.
“Asked to rate the job Bill de Blasio has done, former Public Advocate Mark Green told Capital New York: “I think the office has underperformed in the last four years. … What’s he accomplished as public advocate beyond listing marches attended and letters to the editor?”
“While during his two terms in office, Green is listed as a sponsor on at least 30 pieces of legislation that were ultimately enacted (the online records don’t predate 1998), de Blasio is listed as a sponsor on six, including the primary sponsor on two: one that hiked up fines on landlords who failed to provide adequate heat and hot water, and one that required the city to expand recycling in city schools,” Dana Rubenstein writes.
With three weeks to go, as voters are starting to take a closer look at their choice of candidates, it remains to be seen whether they would take Mr. de Blasio’s promise for progressive change as seriously as he took his job as their representative and how he had held up to his promises. Will the Democratic voters be persuaded to grant him the trust of being at the helm of government in the City of New York?
About the Author: Jacob Kornbluh is described as an up and coming Orthodox Jewish Blogger, writing about Local, national and Israeli politics, and a freelance reporter for various publications. Kornbluh's work has been featured in Haaretz, the NY Times, local blogs, and on local Jewish Radio, Kornbluh also covers the NYC 2013 mayoral race in general and a focus on the Jewish vote in particular at: http://nymayor.blogspot.com. Follow Jacob on Twitter @jacobkornbluh and his daily blog: jacobkornbluh.com
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