Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a self-review at the halfway point of his term, acknowledged Monday that he’d made mistakes, but said accusing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in June of a “vendetta” against the city’s agenda wasn’t one of them.
“At this level of play and at this volume, there’s going to be mistakes,” the Democrat said at a City Hall roundtable session with reporters.
He declined to itemize them, but said, “My job is to make fewer and fewer mistakes. My job is to always learn from everything.”
With a PowerPoint presentation behind him flashing accomplishments ranging from the universal pre-K initiative that added 50,000 seats to the HomeStat system implemented to deal with the surge in the numbers of the homeless, the mayor said his administration had “put all the pillars in place” in his first two years.
“But now it’s about implementing this vision every day, and it’s certainly about going out to communities,” de Blasio said of the next two years. There will be town hall meetings and remarks at houses of worship, he said.
“Now, I want to sort of return to my roots . . . and go much more out to the grass roots,” de Blasio said.
The mayor stood by his charge last summer that Cuomo was acting out of vengefulness on issues such as an overhaul of a real estate tax abatement program and mayoral control of schools.
“It was important to simply lay down the standard that this is how I will look at all things emanating from Albany,” the mayor said Monday. “I’m satisfied it was the right approach, and there’s certainly been some good work we’ve done together with the governor, with Albany in recent months.”
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever in a statement responded, “We wish the mayor a merry Christmas. Here’s to learning from mistakes and a better 2016.”
The Democrats’ ongoing feud had flared anew in recent weeks with Lever declaring that de Blasio “can’t manage the homelessness crisis” in his city.
City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Monday also weighed in on the issue, as homeless encampments, the swelling shelter population and the departures of two top aides handling homelessness underscore de Blasio’s struggles on the issue.
An audit by Stringer cited “operational deficiencies that contributed to the deplorable conditions” in shelters that house families with children. The rodents, mold and other conditions can be connected to allowing shelter providers to “self-monitor” their facilities and lack of oversight over inspections performed by shelter staff, the comptroller’s office said.
De Blasio responded, “We’ve addressed a number of the issues that came up in the comptroller’s report.”
The mayor separately took note of the current battle with the great majority of the city’s community boards resisting key rezoning elements of his affordable housing plan. The broad-based protest isn’t a surprise “after many years of a different approach to development that turned them off,” he said.
He was also asked about the ethics of limit-less contributions by real estate groups and other special interests to a nonprofit group that backs his administration’s priorities.
“The bottom line is that the resources go to promote a progressive agenda,” de Blasio said. “That’s what matters.”