On the heels of trips to Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is spending this week in Washington and northern California, touting a national progressive agenda and hoping to advocate for federal dollars.
He says that should be part of his job, and perhaps it should, eventually. But it's too early and it's coming at the expense of his primary task -- governing New York City.
Relationships between the New York Police Department and the city's residents aren't going to get better while de Blasio's in Washington. The severe problems at the New York City Housing Authority aren't going to solve themselves while de Blasio is in California. And he's not going to make his affordable housing plans a reality or fix failing schools while he's jet-setting elsewhere.
A Quinnipiac poll Tuesday showed that 46 percent of voters said de Blasio's national aspirations are cutting into his work at home.
What's more, newly selected State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said de Blasio hasn't communicated well with state Republicans, indicating the mayor's strained relationship with Albany could get worse when he depends on the state for mayoral control of schools and rent control.
De Blasio's choice to travel and talk rather than stay and govern is particularly grating given the lack of public forums, town halls and other contact with city residents. If he has the time to travel, certainly he can make room for a town hall in the Bronx or Queens -- and be on time.
Nothing's wrong with asking for federal money or advocating a liberal agenda. But it's as if de Blasio is having dessert before he eats his vegetables. He is going on fun excursions and even trying to be a player in the 2016 Democratic presidential process before he's dealt with the tough parts of his job at home.
De Blasio would better serve his constituents by increasing transparency in his administration and taking decisive action on his agenda for the city. If he masters the very prosaic and difficult job of governing New York City, he wouldn't have to say a word.