Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed a new deputy — a Massachusetts Institute of Technology urban planner and political scientist who worked in the administration of former Mayor David Dinkins.
J. Phillip Thompson, who starts in March, replaces Richard Buery as deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives. Buery oversaw the rollout of de Blasio’s mandate for taxpayer-funded prekindergarten classes for all city 4-year-olds.
Thompson, who once was deputy general manager of the New York City Housing Authority and a housing official under Dinkins, is “a frequent adviser to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States,” according to his biography on the MIT website.
He is the author of the recent book “Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy.”
Like Thompson, de Blasio got his start in city government working for Dinkins, the city’s first and only black mayor, who served one term, from 1990 to 1993.
Speaking to The New York Times last year, Thompson disputed conventional wisdom that Dinkins’ time as mayor was largely a failure in need of cleanup by his law-and-order successor, Rudy Giuliani.
“A lot of the things that de Blasio has been successful around, such as his emphasis on affordable housing and universal pre-K, those were things that Dinkins pushed for very hard,” Thompson told the Times. “Also, the way he went after the crime issue was a much deeper approach to community policing than Giuliani had, and over time those approaches have proved to be more effective. And you avoid the issues we got into with stop and frisk and police chokings.”
Thompson said Dinkins “doesn’t get credit for a lot of those things . . . Giuliani took credit for reducing crime, but he isn’t the one who hired 5,000 cops with a $3 billion budget gap. The narrative tends to skip over that.”