Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997, initially as a staff writer for the New
Four times during his first big speech as New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio declared: "We will not wait. We'll do it now."
On the first go-round, he was referring to mandated sick leave. Then, he used the refrain to underscore promises to expand community health centers, to change police stop-and-search policies, and to push for a tax on top earners to fund pre-K programs.
The more de Blasio vowed speedy action, the more you might have wondered if he was defending against being caricatured as a laggard.
During the campaign, one anonymously sourced story -- since echoed in various news media -- painted him as indecisive while managing Hillary Clinton's first campaign for U.S. Senate.
Last week, it became clear that his pace in picking appointees looked a bit slower than his predecessors', while some City Hall media regulars tweaked his habit of showing up late for scheduled appearances.
So the new mayor sounded Wednesday as if he may have been signaling: "Don't worry. We won't wait."
By clear design, he also sounded more conciliatory toward his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, than those who preceded him on the big stage outside City Hall.
Several speakers sermonized from the left, some whacking the ex-mayor either bluntly or implicitly. Harry Belafonte called stop-and-frisk changes "the tip of the iceberg in fixing our deeply Dickensian justice system." Rev. Fred Lucas Jr. blasted "the plantation called New York City." Public Advocate Letitia James slammed various Bloomberg policies, including a "race-to-the-bottom" school system.
After thanking Belafonte, Lucas and others, de Blasio said: "Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg. To say the least, you led our city through some extremely difficult times. And for that, we are all grateful." He echoed previous praise of Bloomberg's commitment to public health and the environment.
De Blasio even invoked Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia -- as predecessors Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani had. Notably, de Blasio put more of a leftward shine on the famous Republican-Liberal "fusion" mayor.
Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, liked to quote LaGuardia saying "There is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage." But de Blasio hailed LaGuardia as having "enacted the New Deal on the city level, battled the excesses of Wall Street, and championed a progressive income tax."
De Blasio also cited former New York governors Franklin D. Roosevelt and Al Smith to argue that the city's mission "reaches deeper" than keeping streets safe and clean.
How deep that mission really goes, or can go, and how quickly he acts, are big questions of the hour.