On Friday afternoon, while everyone else was out basking in the freakish warmth of a summer day in spring, the 109th mayor of New York City put on a suit, sat in front of a microphone, and attempted to defend our honor.
Bill de Blasio had agreed to tape an episode of the Open to Debate podcast. The question at hand: "Is Florida eating New York's lunch?" Reihan Salam, the president of the Manhattan Institute, entered the Zoom room to argue in the affirmative, but both men soon discovered that this vague prompt was kind of stupid.
No one was here to argue that Florida living was better than New York's, not even the guy who was supposed to make that point. They're too different. "Floridians can just hop in their SUVs. I personally prefer the New York way of life," Salam admitted. And essentially, everyone agreed that Florida was rapidly becoming a place that excludes women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and people who are squeamish about banning books. "Florida is a place that a lot of smart, creative, entrepreneurial people are going to say, 'This isn't for me anymore,'" de Blasio declared.
The debate got interesting when Salam raised a point that de Blasio seemingly had no answer to: New York is becoming impossibly unaffordable to everyone but the rich and extremely rich.
"We're really losing strivers. We're really losing working- and middle-class people. What's happening is the gentrification of New York," Salam said.
"Now, you can't just, you know, unless you happen to take a Marxian analysis here, you can't just talk about economics," de Blasio said. "You have to talk about cultural and political factors as well."
If you had experienced the eight years of Bill and were still watching the debate, you were screaming at your screen. What's that, Mr. Tale of Two Cities? Mr. Free Pre-K for All??? You can't just look at the economics?!
De Blasio could have admitted that yes, NYC was too expensive, and yes, he had done his best but failed to fully turn things around, but that New York still has the legislative ability to make deep and enduring changes on the economic front while maintaining its cultural capital, and he could have pointed to legislation in Albany that would protect tenants and make things more affordable for lower-income New Yorkers, and on and on.
But that would have required a self-awareness that still somehow eludes de Blasio in his public appearances. So instead, he said made noises about "oppatoonity" and pointed to the existence of rent-stabilized apartments and NYCHA buildings as proof that New York was going to be just fine.
In the end, you had the Manhattan Institute guy complaining about the length of the NYCHA waitlist, and Bill fucking de Blasio, the guy the right-wing media spent years painting as a straight-up communist, bragging about how New York increased its number of millionaires.
Nearly one hour into the debate, some journalists were allowed to come on to ask a question; both the Times and Politico asked de Blasio what they thought of Mayor Eric Adams's stated intention to stop the expansion of 3-K for all, and both times, de Blasio failed to stand up for his program. Classic.
"I've heard many times, including direct conversations with Mayor Adams, he said how much he is committed to early childhood education. And until the budget is resolved between him and the Council, it's impossible to say what the final investments will be made," de Blasio said.
Jeffrey Maddrey, the NYPD's Chief of Department and the agency's highest-ranking uniformed officer, abused his power when he went to a precinct house to cut loose a former cop who had allegedly just brandished his gun at a group of kids in Brownsville, according to the CCRB. Call us cynical but we don't think the NYPD is going to care.
A heartwarming story for your morning, via the Post: "The 81-year-old billionaire owner of the New England Patriots is battling Southampton officials to allow an elevator in his $43 million beachfront palace, claiming he is 'mobility impaired.' But some naysayers are whining that the sports magnate is doing an end-run around the town’s Draconian zoning and architectural statutes—pointing to recent photos of him spryly golfing, and playing tennis with his stunning fiancée."