Since we're living in a data-driven, grades obsessed world, it's time to gather around for Mayor Bill de Blasio's midterm report card.
It's halfway through the Mayor's four-year term. First terms are notoriously hard but since this is the big time, there's no grading on a curve for the earnest, progressive Mayor.
Like many sophomores, Mayor de Blasio was very distracted in his second year. He took a number of out-of-state and foreign trips, including one to the Vatican to genuflect to the new lefty Pope.
He spent way too much time anointing himself the national voice for progressive politics, even unsuccessfully trying to host a debate in Iowa for presidential candidates. Unfortunately for Bill, both the GOP and Dem candidates had no interest in his grandiose idea which then dropped like a lead balloon.
A quick note on the Mayor's behavior: he doesn't play very well in the sandbox with others. This is hurting his agenda. He is constantly bickering with Governor Andrew Cuomo and that is a fight the normally genial Mayor will never win. His slow motion endorsement of Hillary Clinton pissed off his one-time boss, the likely Democratic presidential nominee.
The only people who hold a grudge longer than Andrew Cuomo are Bill and Hillary Clinton. Not smart, Mr. Mayor.
So, we'll give him a "D" for distraction on the all-important "Focus" grade. And an "F" for: Knows how to win friends and influence people.
Now, for the major subjects:
Crime 101 -- B -- The smartest thing the Mayor did was appointing Bill Bratton Police Commissioner. Bratton is the Babe Ruth of crime fighting (Is Ray Kelly then Lou Gehrig?) and he has managed to keep crime at record lows, reduce stop and frisk dramatically and also shielded the bumbling mayor from an angry police force which feels under respected and underpaid. But (isn't there always a but?) murder is up this year for the first time in a while, the homeless have become more menacing and the general perception of New Yorkers is that things may be backsliding.
Affordable Housing 421A -- C -- The Mayor gets an A for effort but, as George W. Bush used to say, he gets a "D" for "strategery." The cornerstone of the mayor's agenda, 200,000 new units of affordable housing, is in serious jeopardy because the mayor is about to lose a fight with the governor which will result in the expiration of the 421A tax abatement. That long-time program incentivized developers to build housing that would include 20 percent of below market apartments. Equally damaging is the Mayor's bungled rezoning rollout that is being pummeled by community boards and borough presidents. This will mean the Mayor's usual City Council allies will be boxed in and then will abandon de Blasio. Big potential miss here.
Solving the Homeless Crisis -- D -- This may be the Mayor's Waterloo. After ignoring the screaming headlines in the tabloids about the rising tide of street homeless last summer, de Blasio just recently decided to clean house and start all over again. Losing Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli was a canary in a coal mine moment. Once she abandoned the sinking ship, we should have known this problem was worse than anyone thought. The recent announcement of a "Home-STAT" outreach program sounds good in theory. But in life it's all about execution, so we'll stay tuned to see if the Mayor can turn around this vexing problem.
Education Reform/Testing 1-2-3 -- B -- Last year's good news was the creation of Universal Pre-K for nearly 60,000 youngsters a year. This year, the efficacy of some of these schools has come into question. But give the Mayor extra credit for getting this off the ground. Otherwise, de Blasio has been too silent on the botched implementation of Common Core and on the rapidly growing test opt-out movement. Nothing innovative is really going at DOE and there have only been a few mild victories like the plan to step up Computer Science instruction at every grade level.
All in all, Mayor de Blasio's second year in office was a very mixed bag. His bumpy ride has been reflected in his sagging approval rating in every poll. But now that he's entering his junior year, there's plenty of time to get that grade average up before facing the voters again in 2017.
Tom Allon, the President of City & State, NY, was a candidate for Mayor in the last election cycle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.