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Old 06-01-2016, 08:39 AM
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Default Re: De Blasio in secret bid to be Dems’ 2016 pick

Here’s why no one likes de Blasio
By Michael Goodwin
May 31, 2016 | 11:33pm

The hostess of the elegant dinner party had one rule: No talk of the presidential campaign. With supporters of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the table, the inevitable squabbling would spoil the evening.

However, one political topic was on the menu: Mayor Bill de Blasio. The reaction when the hostess mentioned his name was unanimous: Yuck!

So it goes in the Season of Corruption, with New Yorkers transfixed by one of the largest and most far-reaching municipal scandals in modern times. Somewhere, the villainous ghosts of Tammany Hall resent the competition.

The possibility that de Blasio committed crimes by doing favors for donors is the focus of sprawling investigations by state and federal prosecutors. While the sordid revelations dominate the news, they obscure the fact that a more mundane version of pay-to-play is a permanent feature of Dollar Bill’s approach to government, and it hasn’t stopped.

Indeed, he is in a frenzy to keep his name in the headlines for something other than possible criminal conduct. What better way than to hand out free stuff?

In recent days, the mayor announced programs to provide free lawyers for immigrants and Weight Watchers benefits for city employees, and promised that City Hall would conduct a rent strike against bad landlords whose tenants are on welfare.

In other words, even if de Blasio isn’t selling the city to donors, he’s giving it away to his supporters.

Corruption comes in all flavors, and size certainly matters. Yet de Blasio’s mayoralty stands apart from recent predecessors’ in that virtually everything he does leads back to personal politics. He has never stopped campaigning because he doesn’t know how, and doesn’t want to learn. Politics isn’t just his career. It’s his oxygen.

Even longtime supporters call him “transactional,” meaning he’s always eager to make a deal if it helps him. These days, helping him means building support to stave off prosecutors, winning a second term and building a national reputation as a progressive leader.

But even perfectly legal deals can be corrosive to public trust, and it’s clear de Blasio is guilty as charged. He makes no pretense about serving the city as a whole or all the people in it. He is there to represent the people who support him. Everyone else can take a hike and they know it.

That selfish mindset is increasingly common among America’s political class, but New Yorkers largely were spared the experience. Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg are celebrated for making the city safer and more livable in their combined 20 years at City Hall, but get too little credit for something else they shared: a view of public service that went beyond self-interest.

Sure, each had ambitions and neither was a virgin about horse-trading. But they didn’t wake up each day looking to advance their careers at the expense of the city’s future. They saw the purpose of government as helping to set a climate for families and businesses to thrive, and they believed in the obligation to help those who couldn’t help themselves. But neither aimed to buy votes by providing womb-to-tomb entitlements for one and all.

Most important, their personal integrity was taken for granted.

All that is history now, with his predecessors’ approach Greek to de Blasio. Even before he took the oath of office, he set up his first slush fund — the Campaign for One New York — to harvest money from people with business before his office.

He claimed, and still does, that he needed extra millions to push through his universal pre-kindergarten program in Albany, but, in fact, there was little opposition. Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature signed on, and the state paid for most of it.

Yet to this day, de Blasio’s chief instinct is still to turn his mayoralty into a permanent campaign for himself. He’s not pragmatic in that he sets out to solve problems. He is ideological to the core, animated by an us-against-them view that sees New Yorkers as widgets on a political chessboard. He even set up what critics called a “shadow government” to get his way.

Race, ethnicity, religion, gender, geography, income — these are the fault lines he exploits to divide people. The common good doesn’t have a seat at his table or a prayer.
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