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It has become clear what Mayor Bill de Blasio had in mind with his Tale of Two Cities parable. He presented it as an allegory of the haves and have-nots, but neglected to tell us who they are.
Not to worry. His behavior over the past two months has given us a clue. One set of rules for him and his minions, and another for everyone else. Every week yields another demonstration of privilege without responsibility, actions without consequences. The Tale of Two Cities has morphed into “do as I say, not as I do.”
The latest example of this egregious behavior followed the mayor’s press conference in which he talked about traffic and pedestrian safety and his Vision Zero plan to make the streets and roadways safer. To accomplish this, new rules were proposed that would be aggressively enforced to reduce pedestrian fatalities.
Even the mayor would comply — at least, that is what he told the press corps when he said he would take personal responsibility.
Just days later, after lecturing the public, de Blasio was caught on video running multiple stop signs, speeding, partially blocking a crosswalk and zigzagging from lane to lane without signaling. Infractions that would cost us our licenses was simply business as usual for the mayor and his security entourage. When asked about it, he shrugged it off.
Next came the pictures of the mayor jaywalking in Brooklyn against the Do Not Walk sign while talking on his phone. An elderly Asian man was shoved to the ground by police and arrested in Manhattan for the exact same infraction less than a month earlier.
Two weeks ago, city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña stepped out of her chauffeur-driven car during a raging snowstorm to declare, “It’s a beautiful day” to the reporter who asked why the schools were ordered to remain open.
Sure, picked up in a warm car and driven by a personal driver will always make it seem like a beautiful day. To everyone else, do as I say, not as I do and be careful of the ice as you drive your kids to school.--
The Tale of Two Cities doesn’t end there. Last month Pastor Orlando Findlayter, an early supporter of the mayor, was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. It was discovered he had a suspended license and two outstanding warrants stemming from his arrest in a protest, enough for most people to spend the night in jail. Not so with the pastor. Whether it was the pastor’s close ties to de Blasio or the personal phone call from the mayor to the NYPD inquiring about him, it certainly reeked of special treatment that none of us would have been afforded. The next day’s front page headlines got it right, “A Bail of Two Cities.”
It should be evident by now that the Tale of Two Cities is nothing more than a tall tale in which the mayor and those close to him do as they please without consequence or accountability. Do as I say, not as I do arrogance in such a young administration is destructive and corrosive.
Unfortunately, this behavior is now de rigueur with those normally in place to oversee the mayor. De Blasio’s handpicked City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), and city Public Advocate Leticia James, both longtime supporters and loyal sycophants of the mayor, are blind to these transgressions and sit by, refusing to question or challenge him.
When Mark-Viverito neglected to report rental income on her tax returns, she simply said sorry and received nary a slap on the wrist. But when city Sanitation worker Lenworth Dixon, 56, accepted a $20 tip for removing an extra-heavy load of trash, he was not only fined $1,500 but was also fired, according to the city Conflict of Interest Board ruling. In this Tale of Two Cities, an apology does not carry much weight unless you are among the anointed few.
De Blasio is right about the Two Cities. One is an arena of privilege and perquisites for the well-connected, and the other is inhabited by the taxpaying pawns who receive no special exemptions.
©2014 Community Newspaper Group
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