Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday waved off the importance of recent opinion polls showing growing frustration with his stewardship of New York City and its quality of life -- the worst showing of his 22-month-old mayoralty.
Speaking to reporters, de Blasio said the indicators that matter are figures like record-setting overall crime declines, not voter surveys like the The Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist poll released earlier this week indicating a job approval rating of 38 percent, a new low for him.
"You know, there's 8.5 million people in this city, and I think each one of them has a different opinion, and I'm not going to ever say, 'because a few people say one thing, that is the final word,' and I don't think polls are ever the final word," he said.
De Blasio addressed reporters in City Hall's Blue Room for about 73 minutes, a rare session in which he allowed more than a handful of questions on a topic other than the one he picked.
Over the summer, there was an increasing shift by de Blasio away from the practice of past mayors who permitted questions on any subject when appearing in public. Now, such sessions are typically only once a week.
"I have a job to do. Much more important than giving the answers to questions, is actually doing the work," de Blasio said.
The mayor said he would be fielding more questions through radio call-in spots and hosting more town-hall-style meetings open to the public -- an about-face from his earlier avoidance of such forums.
After Newsday reported in May that de Blasio had broken from his predecessor's practice of giving the public access to him through such events, de Blasio started appearing on the radio in short segments, sometimes several times a week. He hosted one town-hall-style meeting in Upper Manhattan, though it covered only one topic -- housing -- and the guest list was controlled.
Among the matters on which de Blasio weighed in Friday was an arbitrator's decision granting lower raises for rank-and-file police officers than their union had sought.
The mayor noted that the raises -- a draft decision awards retroactive 1 percent hikes for each of two years -- were in line with a pattern set by labor unions for nearly every other uniformed city worker, including police supervisors and detectives.
"We came up with a pattern that the other uniformed services found fair. I think that's the way to look at it," he said. "If you look at the national perspective -- very, very substantial compensation for our officers in terms of salary, in terms of benefits, pensions, etc."