Mayor Bill de Blasio must be commended for his concern about keeping affordable housing at the top of his agenda, a point he underscored with building plans from borough to borough, even if he provided few details and made no mention of where the funds would come from to pay for such big dreams.
But at the same time, we have many concerns about what he did not say—things we wish he could have at least mentioned. And how odd that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s name was not among the list of dignitaries cited by the mayor at the beginning of his State of the City address. About as close as he came to Bratton’s domain was to note the 75 percent reduction in stops and the role the NYPD has played in reducing the city crime rate to an all-time low.
Even so, what about the reform measures on police-community relations that sorely need attention? And this is by no means an item that is alien to the mayor’s priorities, because it is something that he has talked about and probably thought about for months, especially with the outrage from protesters over police misconduct and police officers turning their backs on him.
It was good to hear that his administration will commit to ending the chronic homelessness of returning veterans, but veterans are not the only ones struggling to find decent shelter without sleeping under a cloud of dread.
The late comedian George Carlin told us there were seven words you could not say on the air. We can add one more that the mayor did not say: poor. And neither did the word poverty get any play, although it can be construed as the lesser endowed in his “tale of two cities.”
But more specifically, where was his past plan to tax the rich? That plan appears to be a thing of the past, because it got no traction last year in his overall budget proposal.
The mayor said nothing about charter schools, but that may be a quagmire he studiously avoided, given the governor’s and the teachers union’s positions.
Something more could have been said about gentrification, even as he cleverly chose to split the difference, pointing out the good and the bad of it.
He announced a plan for a citywide ferry service, but what about the taxi/Uber debate and the horse-drawn carriages?
For all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest is what might have been, and although the mayor would have pleased us by sharing his thoughts on some of the issues above, we applaud his plans for seniors and for the often-neglected artists. The provision of 1,500 units of affordable live-work space for artists and musicians is sorely needed, and none are more desperately in need than the many we know who are facing eviction.
We know that much was perhaps left unsaid to get some of the things that were said on the table and possibly realized. But because several things were put forth that will not see the light of day, it wouldn’t hurt to get a few more balls into the opponent’s court.
The mayor’s proposal for Sunnyside Yards was hardly out his mouth before Gov. Andrew Cuomo voiced his objection, insisting that was his territory. And the minimum wage suggested by the mayor was also quickly pooh-poohed by the governor.
We can’t predict how any of this will play out in the long run, and we know that for much of de Blasio’s dream, the state Legislature will make the call.
It might be a good idea for the mayor to give them much more to chew on, while at the same time giving the least endowed of his constituents a modicum of delight in knowing that he is thinking about us.