Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Emerging Conservatism of Bill de Blasio

News Roundup : Is Bill de Blasio turning his back on his progressive sensibilities ?

In the last week, lobbyists helped to bundle and raise huge amounts of campaign donations for New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, even though he enjoys an extraordinary lead in opinion polls.

Mr. de Blasio is leading Joe Lhota by 44 points -- 68 to 24 percent -- among likely voters, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll (Poll : Bill de Blasio Still Dominating Mayoral Race * Politicker).

In spite of this dominance, Mr. de Blasio has been noticeably been edging to the political center, according to the view of some, and to the right-of-center, according to the views of others.

During Tuesday's "heated mayoral debate," Republican candidate Joe Lhota attacked the Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio "for not doing enough to get affordable housing built at Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project," The Real Deal reported, which included Mr. Lhota's accusation that Mr. de Blasio betrayed the promises he made to force the developer of the Atlantic Yards project to build affordable housing.

“The reality is, Bill de Blasio makes promises over and over that he can’t keep,” Lhota said during the debate, and referred to Bill de Blasio’s support of Forest City’s massive Atlantic Yards project, according to watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report. “Well, it’s been two years now since the Barclays Center has opened, and they’re not even in the ground with affordable housing,” Lhota said. He suggested that de Blasio was lenient with developer Bruce Ratner because Ratner is a supporter of the candidate and a frequent contributor to his campaign.

Moreover, the host committee of Mr. de Blasio's million-dollar Monday-night fundraiser with Hillary Clinton, for example, read like a who's who of big-league city lobbyists -- and it's drawing fire from his GOP opponent.

"Post-primary shifts may come naturally in any election," reports The New York Times, noting that the "modulations of Mr. de Blasio, a veteran political operator, are more akin to the sanding-down of edges than full-fledged flip-flops." So, The NYTimes is still hesitating from calling Mr. de Blasio out for his sharp turn to the right after barely winning the Democratic primary with slightly over 40% of the vote. Michael Powell's take-away from the second mayoral debate was that Mr. de Blasio is not a fake. "But as his day approaches, his footsteps toward power are worth measuring," Mr. Powell wrote, speaking in half-truths about Mr. de Blasio's conservatism since the Democratic primary.

Bill de Blasio and the faux new urban populism

"Does de Blasio’s ascent suggest that the country is moving in a decisively liberal direction ?" asked the Columbia University journalism professor and The New York Times op-ed contributing writer, Thomas Edsall. Mr. Edsall cites these alarming statistics :

In New York, according to an April 2013 report by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity, graphically presented in Figure 1, 45.8 percent of the city’s population lives in poverty (an annual income of $30,994 or less for a four-person family) or at “near poverty” (from $30,995 to $46,416 for a family of four).

How will Mr. de Blasio make a dent in the number of New Yorkers living in poverty, if he already seems to have steered right or right-of-center in his politics since the Democratic primary ? Moreover, there is growing speculation that Mr. de Blasio is supporting the selection of a conservative City Council Speaker, who will act to tame the City Council from taking action on voters' demands for reforms.

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