NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a State of the City speech like no other, more like a Broadway production with singers and dancers and Mayor Bill de Blasio surrounded by a crowd at the American Museum of Natural History.
After running the city for six years, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer says the mayor claims he is now going to “save our city.”
Hoping to prevent his mayoralty from being relegated to the bone pile of history, much like the T-Rex a few floors above him, de Blasio chose the whale room at the museum on Thursday as the backdrop for a dramatic speech that was as much about his legacy as the announcement of new initiatives.
“Today I am presenting to you something very different. This is a plan to save our city,” de Blasio said.
Web Extra: Mayor De Blasio’s State Of The City Address, Parts I and II:
That’s right. After all these years at the helm, returning to the city after a failed presidential bid, and unappreciated in many quarters, de Blasio has decided to so that he can re-capture the love by promising to save small businesses, help the climate, and make living in the city more affordable.
“We have to save ourselves from the forces of greed,” he said.
Every plan for salvation needs an enemy or enemies. For de Blasio, it’s landlords. He wants to go after them by finding a way to legalize commercial rent control, eliminate security deposits for rents.
It was a performance based on new optics. Instead of speaking from a podium, he dramatically strode around a stage set with supporters on all four sides. He theatrically signed three executive orders dealing with climate change — ending the use of single-use plastic bottles on city property — including schools, hospitals, and city agencies, making all city vehicles electric by 2040, and stopping the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels in large buildings by 2040.
CBS2 urban affairs expert Marc Peters said it’s clear to him the speech was about de Blasio’s legacy.
“‘Save our city’ is kind of an odd thing to use in your sixth year as mayor, because it implies that you really haven’t been doing the job well the years before that,” Peters said. “He clearly wants to try to spend the last two years building a legacy. The problem is doing that is going to require sustained attention and focus in a way he hasn’t shown he’s capable of doing over the last several years.”
In response to the speech, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the mayor might be right about the need to save our city, but he slammed de Blasio for missed opportunities to fix things, saying, “Policies that were insufficient to address the scale of need or further deepened it.”