New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has made it ritual, when announcing a major appointment, to trumpet the experience of the new aide -- who then declares fealty to the upcoming administration's stated goals.
Standard as it may sound, the format particularly suits de Blasio -- whose critics throughout this year's campaign claimed that he lacked either the seasoning to do the big job or the sincerity to fulfill his promises.
On Monday, de Blasio named Alicia Glen, 47 -- most recently of Goldman Sachs -- as deputy mayor for housing and economic development, hailing her as someone who "knew inherently now to get things done." She, in turn, predicted that many in the business community will take de Blasio's drive to "fight inequality" as a sign of the city's "future strength."
One trend is remarkable in his appointments so far: Except for Glen, the 52-year-old de Blasio's highest-rung picks are older than he is -- and brandish seasoned resumes. De Blasio is clearly looking to establish that he has, or at least will acquire, the chops to effectively run the city's sprawling, $70-billion-plus-a-year government. "I'm going to get the best talent for the mission," he said Monday, as he has before.
So William Bratton, at 66, returns for his second run as police commissioner. Deputy mayor-to-be Anthony Shorris, 56, ran the Port Authority. Gladys Carrion, 62, to head children's services, comes most recently from the Cuomo administration.
Another deputy mayor will be Lilliam Barrios Paoli, 67, who has headed city agencies in three City Hall administrations. For a budget director, de Blasio turned to 62-year-old state finance wonk Dean Fuleihan. For a schools chancellor, de Blasio is said to have been considering longtime educator Carmen Farina, 71. Thus far, the younger appointees with political ties to the new mayor tend to occupy the next rung down -- such as Emma Wolfe, 34, intergovernmental affairs director; Dominic Williams, 31, who will be Shorris' chief of staff, and Laura Santucci, 32, de Blasio's chief of staff.
The team, in turn, echoes the message that the boss won't ditch his progressive campaign commitments. Carrion, for one, said: "This will be the first time that I will work for . . . [a leader who] deeply understands the core of the work and has been in the trenches fighting for it." Bratton said the NYPD will "get it right" on stop-and-frisk.
For his part, Shorris promised "progressive and effective leadership that sets the standard for cities across the country." Glen even put in a pitch for de Blasio's tax on the wealthy to fund pre-K programs -- as far as that may seem from the strict borders of her job description.
Symbolism as projected by mayors is always mixed and measured. De Blasio, who campaigned as a departure from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has had both parting clashes with the incumbent and occasion to sing his praises.
In his last pre-Christmas news conference Monday, de Blasio hailed Bloomberg's advocacy on climate change. "I commend Mayor Bloomberg," he said. "He was a strong national and international voice . . . I think he gave us a fantastic foundation to work from."
He called it an example of where local governments have been "leading the way on an issue that sadly, oftentimes, national governments have failed to address sufficiently."