Monday, December 15, 2014

My City for a Horse

It seems Rudy knows as much about horses as he does the black community in the city, or maybe he thinks they are one in the same.  Giuliani personally looked into the issue of the carriage horses' well being while mayor and found that they were well treated.  Maybe he should have watched Blinders.

Bill De Blasio has put a bill to ban horse-drawn carriages before the city council, as he said he would during last year's campaign, and what a stink it has raised.  Everyone form the AFL-CIO to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy have come out against the bill claiming that it will cost jobs and take away the glamour of the city.  Even the FBI is investigating claims of extortion filed by Christine Quinn, who says she was strong-armed into supporting the ban by an animal rights group.

While Big Bill may have stepped into some horse hockey on this issue, he isn't taking anymore of Rudy's shit.  Recently, he blasted the ex-mayor on his statements regarding the black community in New York, stating that Giuliani "fundamentally misunderstands the reality" of the situations that led to the massive protests over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of the police.

The New York Observer tries to get to the bottom of this story, noting that Gotham is an entirely different city now than it was 15 years ago when Rudy was in town.  Giuliani prided himself as a "law and order" mayor, which is not surprising since he had previously served as the US Attorney for the greater New York metropolitan area under Ronald Reagan.  He rode into the mayor's office as a result of widespread dissatisfaction of David Dinkins, particularly among whites in the city, who felt Dinkins was unduly favoring minorities.

Twenty years later, De Blasio gets his chance to enact his revenge, by shifting the focus of municipal government back to the days of Dinkins, whom he served.  This doesn't sit well with the white community, but they are pretty much powerless to do anything about it, given the demographic shift that has taken place in the city.  De Blasio is loathe to mention Giuliani by name, treating him more like a distraction than anything else.

It's too early to tell how De Blasio is doing, but he seems to be galvanizing minority support as he defends the right of those to protest the lack of an indictment in the strangulation death of Eric Garner.  He has even gone so far as to say that he too was forced to teach his son how to handle himself when confronted by police because of the well known bias of the NYPD toward black youths.  This, of course, was met with profound indignation by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.  Ross Barkan, writing for the New York Observer, is not quite sure if this posturing is real or gauged to help secure what has grown into a majority voting block that could keep De Blasio in power for a long time to come.

From what I've seen so far, I like De Blasio.  I'm glad to see someone stand up for traditional liberal values, including a return to the fundamentals of public education.  De Blasio has spoken out strongly against charter schools, which many studies have shown have failed to deliver the great promise they advertised, particularly for minorities in inner cities.  His "school renewal program" aims to fund struggling public schools, rather than phase them out in favor of more charter schools.  This too rubbed Rudy the wrong way, as he was a big advocate of charter schools.

De Blasio also wants to see more public housing, which likewise hasn't gone over too well with the white community, who see a massive influx of minorities.  Shades of Robert Moses here, as De Blasio plans to fundamentally reshape the city's demographics with affordable housing.  It used to be that cities prided themselves on housing projects, but Pruitt-Igoe and other massive projects soured many persons on the benefits of such projects.  Much of that negative image was blown out of all proportion, as this documentary shows.  The country shifted to the right politically and wanted to detach itself from such public works projects that had once been the lifeblood of the economy.

It's a bold new direction for New York, and if De Blasio succeeds (which of course conservatives don't want him too) it could signal to other cities that public works is a good thing and other mayors shouldn't shy away from it.

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