I haven't offered a whole lot of good news lately, but today I went to Bill de Blasio's inauguration. While it's true it was freezing out there, and I completely overlooked the necessity of 7 pairs of socks, there was something very special about the people I saw today.
Bill Clinton did not particularly thrill me, praising Emperor Bloomberg, but he was introduced by a CUNY student who came here at 15 from the Dominican Republic. There, in front of me, was a New York City ESL student introducing a President of the United States. This young woman was everything I want to see in NYC. I want an NYC in which kids have a chance to thrive, and a real shot at a future. I think they're more important than whatever stadium or luxury high-rise Mayor Bloomberg has wet dreams about.
And that vision is most certainly shared by Tish James, wearing a bright red coat but standing out more for her ideas than her apparel. She stood with Mayor Dinkins and held court about a New York that actually looked after people. No stadiums for her. No racist police policies. No Race to the Top, and no more people trying to live on $7.25 an hour. She is the real thing, and she will not sit silent while billionaires foist insane policies on working people. She's said she will be the conscience of the new mayor, and I have no doubt she will keep her word.
Also bruising Mayor Money was Harry Belafonte. Bloomberg sat wincing as his policies were parsed, as a vision as antithetical to his as any I've heard came from this legendary figure. Scott Stringer was no more kind to the mayor. The smirk he wore before people started to speak withered away, and in its place was the face of a teacher going through hour three of the most useless PD ever devised by man, woman, or Bloomberg.
Mayor de Blasio immediately addressed those who expect him to sell out. He said he was elected to put in place progressive policies, and that he would. He repeatedly stressed that this work was to begin NOW. He did not sound like someone who was going to turn into a corporatist anytime soon. If I were him, I'd be afraid to. Tish James is no one to be trifled with.
One of the most amazing things I saw was Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo sitting there, and neither of them playing any part beyond that of scarecrows. Certainly they'd have loved to blather their corporatist crap, but de Blasio did not make any room in the schedule for that. Cuomo looked chisled from plastic, or perhaps porcelain, and sat there smiling like a ventriloquist's dummy. Sandra Lee, by his side, was doubtless figuring out how to form some culinary masterpiece from boxed bread crumbs, canned corned beef hash, and vanilla extract. I can't wait to not watch her next show.
It's a hopeful time for me, as after 20 years of crap it's time for NYC to smile. I ran into blogger extraordinaire Jose Luis Vilson, who was sadly relegated to the cheap seats for the ceremony, and a friend of mine who's been working her butt off for the new mayor. Jose and I hoped she'd sneak us in and get us no-show jobs at Soprano worksites, but she told us they were all in New Jersey.
On the brighter side, now that we have a real mayor, none of us are going to have to move there.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.