The schoolyard spat between Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo erupted again recently, leaving Queens on the sidelines of the political playground watching the two politicians slug it out.
At stake are mayoral control of city schools and affordable housing, two critical issues for the residents of this borough.
Although they claim a friendship dating back 20 years, the mayor and his former boss at HUD have had increasing difficulty finding common ground on issues that are fundamental to the city.
Lost in the jockeying for position between the two lawmakers is a real discussion about permanent vs. short-term mayoral control and tax breaks for developers of affordable housing. Queens residents have a right to know both sides of these issues rather than hearing sound bites tossed out in a verbal sparring match as de Blasio and Cuomo stake out positions.
In all fairness to our mayor, Cuomo has taken a much harder line against de Blasio, which has puzzled many political observers. It was assumed that both men were cut from the same Democratic cloth, but Cuomo has a reputation for pragmatic thinking and de Blasio is a novice when it comes to the City Hall vs. Albany sport.
De Blasio seems to be taken aback by the obstacles the governor has thrown up in front of him, but he has begun landing some punches of his own.
The mayor, who has made education a central part of his agenda, pushed hard to get Albany to give control of the schools back to the city permanently, but Cuomo has said three more years is just fine before the system is evaluated again.
Both the governor and the mayor were in the business of affordable housing at HUD. But Cuomo sharply opposed the mayor’s affordable housing plan as a “sweetheart deal” for developers and accused de Blasio of turning his back on unions by not requiring builders to pay the prevailing wage. De Blasio retaliated by saying his plan would end the tax subsidies for condos favored by Cuomo.
The warring pols reached a detente this week as word circulated that a woman may have caused the rift—a territorial rather than a romantic conquest.
The mayor just hired Karen Hinton, a PR woman who worked with both men at HUD, as his press secretary. She has been part of Cuomo’s brain trust and apparently is not to be shared with de Blasio.
So, gentleman, cool the rivalry and let’s get back to basics. Queens needs both of you to make the city a place where families can educate their children in decent schools and find homes in 80,000 new affordable units. Leave the mumbletypeg to the kids.