Mayor Bill de Blasio’s news conferences of late have become a daily exercise in justification, accountability denial and self-aggrandizement. Never shy about trumpeting his insipid accomplishments, as the city teeters on the edge of disaster, the mayor has assumed an alternating tone of paternalism, victimhood and self-righteous vindication as he speaks to an online audience that, on a busy day, hovers in the low three figures.
Hizzoner has never been known for adhering to the same picture of reality as everyone else. But his positive spin on the nightly shutdown of subway service — an embarrassing defeat — expands the meaning of chutzpah into a new dimension.
“This is a game changer!” he exclaimed recently, announcing that of 200 or so homeless subway-sleepers rousted off the trains at 1 a.m. the previous night, about half agreed to be driven to a shelter. “I keep telling you something historic is happening, and, day after day, the facts bear it out,” he crowed, celebrating “this new initiative” as a great moment of social progress.
Back in reality, meanwhile, the mayor increased spending on homeless services by billions of dollars, to no perceivable effect. He turned our city’s transit system into a nightmarish rolling dayroom, where hundreds of mentally ill and drug addicted New Yorkers took up semi-permanent occupancy.
This was a feature of de Blasio’s homelessness policy: He combined neglect in the name of compassion with hands-off policing in the name of justice. He shunted miserable New Yorkers into the de facto underground annex of the shelter system.
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