Mayor Eric Adams’s campaign theme was that he would seek practical solutions to the city’s problem. For example, with respect to the spike in crime during the de Blasio years he said he would embrace some tried and true anti-crime measures gutted by the former mayor, and spoke about such things as a “smart” stop-and-frisk program, better-trained specialty anti-crime units and the intelligent use of solitary confinement as an anti-crime tool.
So, we envisioned that the new mayor’s first few months in office would necessarily be taken up with trying to overcome the lingering effects of eight years of Bill de Blasio’s fiercely ideology-driven approach to municipal governance. Indeed, who can forget his explanation as to why he exempted from his Covid crowd-size rules the massive, largely black demonstrations in support of racial justice that followed the killing of George Floyd – while synagogues and churches were not exempted:
When you see a nation – an entire nation – grappling with an extraordinary crisis that’s deep-seated in 400 years of American racism, sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to religious services.
It’s about the deep, deep American crisis. I have eyes to see. We’re not going to treat it like it’s any other day, we’re not going to treat it like “why are people outside the bar.”
But it is now clear that we will also face a similar challenge in the person of the radically leftist ideologue Brad Lander, who, it seems, never encountered a progressive idea he didn’t like. And, though just elected New York City Comptroller – who is ordinarily tasked with ferreting out wasteful spending or failures to implement official policy on the part of government agencies or those who do business with the City – he is acting as if he were selected to serve as a second mayor invested with the power to determine policy.
In particular, he has declared war on New York City yeshivas, vowing to do everything in his power to get Orthodox yeshivas to teach a secular curriculum. So, he has recently said:
The state law is very clear that all schools, including private and parochial schools, have an obligation to deliver substantially comparable [to the public schools] and competent secular education, especially where the city is contracting with those schools for transportation and books. It is the responsibility of the city as a whole and the comptroller in particular to be paying attention, and audit and make sure those obligations are being met.
The thing is, though, the person who was actually elected mayor does not agree with Lander as to what the law’s “substantially comparable” standard requires. Here is part of what Mayor Adams had to say about that:
Children have a right to receive the best education, and not all communities and not all parents take the same approach. So, it is really essential that the government works with different communities and cultures to adopt structures that reach communities’ needs so that we can deliver the best education.
Significantly, Adam told BoroPark24 that yeshiva educations’ curricula could be included under the city’s often-professed respect for cultural diversity and openness to different cultural viewpoints and values, such as the cohesion that yeshivas’ curricula provide.
Sadly, Lander’s problem with things Jewish or Jewish tradition is more than a matter of ideology. It also appears to be deeply personal as well. At his son’s bris milah ceremony he referred to it as “religious violence,” denounced the notion of a Jewish nationalism and ridiculed the “right of return” as being arrogant and unduly divisive. And, of course he is an ardent supporter of the BDS movement.
In sum, it behooves the newly minted mayor, on his own and on behalf of all of us, to make clear to Lander from the get-go that it is the mayor who leads on policy and the comptroller’s job to see to it that that policy is implemented, not to make his own.