The next mayor will be the candidate who realizes that New Yorkers want change — but not too much change.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio is presenting a false choice: the future versus the past. He warned last week, “Powerful interests that have benefited from the status quo” are “doing everything in their power to stop the forces of change.”
Yes, Republican nominee Joe Lhota, a former top deputy to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has to avoid looking like he came from 20 years ago. But he can stand for the parts of the status quo that people like — such as murders down to 417 last year, from 2,262 in 1990 — and against the powerful interests inside the de Blasio camp, whod put the city on course for another fiscal disaster.
On that front, he can remind people that New York faces a $2 billion deficit — so anyone who says we can afford back pay for expired contracts is lying to the unions or the public.
Tuesdays exit polls showed that 48 percent of Democrats approve of Mayor Bloombergs job performance — an extraordinary turn-in for a third-term mayor in his last four months. So Lhota needs people in the middle.
And he can pick progressive issues — and make them his own.
Public safety. Manufactured outrage over stop, question and frisk defined the Democratic primary. But the overall public is evenly divided, with 46.5 percent of potential general-election voters in favor and 47.9 percent against the police tactic.
And even Democratic primary voters were hardly unanimous. In exit polls, 59 percent of voters said stopping and frisking people was “excessive,” but 37 percent said it was “an acceptable way to make New York City safer.”
Lhota can say he would implement some reforms.
First: more cops. With the police force down by 4,814 since Bloomberg took office, cops have made more stops to keep crime down. But, as Lhota has pointed out, some crime is up — felony assault is up 6.8 percent in two years. A larger force can do a better job on all fronts.
Second: more accountability. Well see what comes of Judge Shira Scheindlins order to force police officers to wear cameras — but Lhota could show that hell manage the force, not the court, by saying its a good idea that has worked in other cities, protecting cops as well as the public.
And the NYPD needs a digital revamp not unlike what we saw at the MTA under Lhota. Give us clickable maps so you can see what kind of crimes and crashes happen on your block, when, and how many compared to last year, as well as police reports (with names blacked out when warranted) so each of us can assess whether stops are proper.
Education.De Blasios campaign centerpiece is a $530 million tax hike on the rich to fund pre-K. But the city just tried to raise money by hiking fees for tennis-court permits, and saw demand plummet.
More important to middle-class voters, though, is whether more spending will work. As Lhota told radio host John Gambling last Thursday, considering were spending $22,000 per student to get not-so-great results, we need a better approach.
He floated “longer school days as well as longer school years,” in addition to “start[ing] before kindergarten.”
Maybe charter schools should create pre-K slots student-for-student along with traditional public schools, to see who gets better results for cheaper. (Albany — which prohibits charters from offering pre-K — would have to change the law, but de Blasio needs Albany to OK his tax hike, too.)
And with 70,000 students in charter schools, 93 percent of them minorities and many with younger siblings, de Blasio cant run against such reform.
Quality of life. New Yorkers are weary of problems that come with progress: illegal noise and pollution. If de Blasio really wanted to address New Yorks “tale of two cities,” hed point out that the people on Park Avenue and East 78th Street sleep quietly, while the other 99 percent doesnt.
Lhota can point out that, though hes not against development, hell make sure everyone — no matter how powerful — abides by the law. He should propose a corps of quality-of-life enforcers to take pressure off the NYPD here.
Traffic safety. De Blasios “vision zero” to eliminate traffic deaths is attractive to street-safety advocates. But last week, Lhota also pledged to “keep these numbers down,” in part by asking, “How do we stop cars coming to the city?”
He wants to use technology to ease gridlock, cutting delivery trucks unpredictable double-parking. He would reduce potholes — which are dangerous for bicyclists.
Its up to voters to determine whos more likely to achieve a goal — given experience managing government.
“This campaign is going to be about change,” Lhota said last week. But voters will consider which candidate wont throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Original Source: http://nypost.com/2013/09/15/what-voters-really-want-in-nycs-new-mayor/