This 24/7 city has an 80% mayor.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has been skipping town with greater frequency than ever the past year, a Post analysis found.
In all, he’s spent 80 days traveling since he won re-election in November 2017. That adds up to 20% of his second term far away from the city he ostensibly runs.
The last year has seen a marked increase in de Blasio’s wanderlust. In the first 10 months of 2017, when he was campaigning for a second term, he was out of town just 31 days out of 311, or 10% of the time.
Year after year, half or more of the mayor’s days away have fallen on weekdays. Since his election, 45 of his 80 days away were during the workweek.
Many of his 2018 trips, like a grandstanding jaunt to the US-Mexico border and appearances at left-leaning gatherings like Netroots Nation in New Orleans and the SXSW Festival in Austin, Tex., had little obvious connection to de Blasio’s actual job. But they make plenty of sense for a term-limited pol looking to burnish his progressive credentials.
“New Yorkers are not stupid,” said political strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “They know that those events don’t help fix NYCHA, get the homeless off the streets or clean up corruption.”
The mayor’s distraction was obvious last weekend, when he traipsed off to Vermont to serve as a member of Bernie Sanders’ brain trust – and to hobnob with John Cusack, Danny Glover and others.
But back home, City Hall was in an uproar over a de Blasio deputy’s attempted firing of Joseph Esposito, the respected head of the Office of Emergency Management, in the mayor’s absence.
The episode was the very essence of de Blasio’s hands-off approach to the mayoralty, critics said.
“The voters hired him for one job,” said Jadan Horyn of Reclaim New York, a good-government group. “He should be here doing the job he was hired to do, not out trying to be promoted to another one.”
It was hardly the first time in recent months the mayor stayed out of town in a time of crisis.
Hizzoner was in Austin, Texas in March for the hipper-than-thou SXSW Festival when a terrifying East River helicopter crash killed five tourists. He was midway through a three-state swing through the south — and did not cut the trip short in the tragedy’s wake.
He was on vacation in Connecticut in November 2017, one week after his re-election, when a damning Department of Investigation report accused Shola Olatoye, the head of the city Housing Authority, of filing fraudulent documents certifying that 55,000 potentially dangerous apartments had passed lead tests. At least 4,200 young children may have been poisoned as a result, the DOI report said.
Two months later, as the mayor headlined a fundraiser for an arts center in Maine, the ceiling in a NYCHA apartment collapsed on a sleeping resident — one of a long string of dangerous failures in the city’s beleaguered public housing system,
When he returned, the resident, Tricia Jeter, confronted de Blasio at a news conference to show him photos of her ruined former home. “He looked like he was shocked,” Jeter said.
The mayor was at a progressive “ideas conference” in Washington, D.C. in May, touting his plan to stop prosecuting pot cases, when a surprise rush-hour storm paralyzed the transit system and stranded thousands at Grand Central Station for hours.
In September, he was at a liberal political gabfest sponsored by the Texas Tribune in Austin when 14,000 pages of embarrassing City Hall emails were released under court order. The messages revealed the mayor sniping at Gov. Cuomo for perceived slights and scheming to boost wife Chirlane’s bona fides as a mental health expert.
De Blasio was too busy campaigning in Florida for Democrat Andrew Gillum in October to respond to investigators who faulted the troubled Administration for Children’s Services for ignoring abuse reports on more than 1,000 foster children.
And his week-long family vacation in Canada last July was marred by his decision to use the city’s high-tech $3 million anti-terrorism plane to ferry him back to the city for a street renaming ceremony.
De Blasio defended his “different organizational model” in a radio interview Friday.
“If you’re not delegating in this kind of role, you’re really going to paralyze things,” he told NPR. “And the deputy mayor model has worked overwhelmingly.”
Critics weren’t buying it.
“Excuse me? We elected him to run this city, not his deputies,” said Betsy Gotbaum of Citizens Union, a government watchdog group. “New Yorkers are right to raise this as an issue.”
City Hall spokesman Eric Phillips said, “It’s not like the Mayor’s on a beach somewhere. He’s organizing and fighting the Trump Administration on federal issues that affect New Yorkers directly.
“That critics are scraping this low in the barrel is a great report card on this Mayor’s tenure.
But some observers likened de Blasio — who has also been chastised for his chronic habit of passing off blame for inept city responses to crises — to an absentee mayor.
“He’s become so distant that New Yorkers barely notice if he’s here or not,” Sheinkopf said. “He’s like the man who came to dinner, and then just left.”
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