A friend who is no fan of Mayor de Blasio’s summarizes the headlines. “What a week!” he writes. “Monday we learned murders are up 20 percent this year.
Now we learn that subway delays are up 45 percent. So here’s my question: Which movie should I rent for the weekend: ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Midnight Cowboy’ or ‘Back to the Future’?”
Good choices all — if you want to relive Gotham’s bad old days. Then again, you might not need a movie. Real mayhem could be coming to a corner near you.
New restrictions on school suspensions will make it harder for teachers and principals to keep order in the classroom.
And even as he keeps opposing high-performing charter schools, the mayor moved to reward failing district schools. Refusing to close any of the city’s 91 persistent losers or accept a state takeover, de Blasio instead promises to spend $150 million more on those schools, as if more money is the answer.
Perhaps most troubling, new restrictions on stop-and-frisk make it harder for cops to keep the streets safe. Carrying an illegal handgun just got easier because cops are no longer allowed to act on “furtive movements” or a “hunch.” It’s also easier for the perps to avoid arrest for an earlier crime because race must be downplayed in describing suspects.
The rules also create a gray area, saying that some stops are so minor that cops can’t stop people from just ignoring them. That invites trouble and may lead to confrontations, or just cops who are afraid to act.
“Police officers are going to have to travel with an attorney just to interpret” the new rules, said union head Pat Lynch.
City Hall’s movement to handcuff authority, both in schools and on the streets, falls under what I call “Breaking Broken Windows.” The guiding light of civic order for two decades was the theory that a broken window left unrepaired was an invitation to break more windows, and worse. In police terms, a broken window could be turnstile jumping, public urination, vandalism and refusing to listen to teachers.
By any reasonable yardstick, the crackdown succeeded magnificently, reversing the downward spiral that had turned New York into a free-fire zone where only the squeegee men and gangbangers were comfortable.
That success was more than de Blasio could bear. So now he’s breaking the Broken Windows philosophy in what amounts to a giant social experiment. He is either assuming New Yorkers will not take advantage of lax enforcement, or he’s ready to accept more crime and misbehavior.
So far, it looks like the latter. Shootings are up by more than 20 percent over last year, despite one of the coldest winters in city history. And the increase in murder this year includes the record stretch of 12 days without a homicide, meaning killers are now working overtime.
To his credit, the mayor pulled back from the brink in his war against the NYPD. He recognized he was dangerously estranged from the rank-and-file, and that his mayoralty might never recover if he stayed that course.
Lately, he has turned down his rhetoric and seems to be keeping his public distance from Al Sharpton.
But that won’t be enough to change the perception of him as anti-police, and rising crime eventually will force him to make a choice. Either he wants the streets to be safe, or he wants cops to stand around like blue flower pots while innocent citizens become victims.
That’s not to suggest the mayor is goofing off while Rome burns. As snow fell last week, de Blasio made two big announcements: He’s still not marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and schools will be closed on two Muslim holidays.
As for failing schools, he announced he would shutter two — both charter schools.
More cake, anyone?
So what the Hill was she thinking!
Maybe the vast right-wing conspiracy made her do it.
Hillary Clinton has lots of explaining to do about why she set up a private computer server in her home and used private e-mails only for State Department business. But if the past is prologue — with the Clintons, it always is — we’ll never get a straight answer.
Besides, at this point, what difference does it make?
Actually, a lot. The first difference involves data security. Presumably her home system had fewer protections than the government’s, meaning the Russians, Chinese or Iranians could hack her correspondence without much trouble and spill American secrets at will.
Her reckless actions could have blown the covers of CIA agents and informers in foreign countries, putting their lives in danger. For all we know, it might be too late to save some of those people.
Which brings us to the heart of the matter: What the hell was she thinking?
She had to know from the beginning that what she was doing was out of bounds. State had clear rules requiring the use of official accounts, and she had criticized Bush officials for using private accounts.
With ignorance no defense, it means that each time she sent an e-mail about State business on her private system, or received one, she knew she was breaking the rules, and maybe the law. Yet she did it anyway for four years.
Somehow, she gave herself an excuse or a sense of victimization that allowed her to be exempt from the rules that apply to everybody else. A shrink is more likely to get the truth than congressional inquiries.
Meanwhile, there is some good news. She is finding few defenders for her outrageous conduct, which shows there are still standards that don’t depend on party label or cutting the Clintons another break. This time, she may finally have gone too far.
Debunking Times’ minority report
A Times headline: “Lack of Diversity Persists in Admissions to Elite City Schools.”
Really? You be the judge: Entering classes in the eight elite schools will be 52 percent Asian, 28 percent white, 7 percent Hispanic and 5 percent black.
That’s a “lack of diversity” only if you don’t count Asians as a minority — which is the unstated point.
“Minority” has come to be a synonym for blacks and Hispanics, and since Asians succeed wildly out of proportion to their numbers — they are only about 15 percent of the school population — they are no longer considered a “minority” or included in “diversity” counts.
They should be, and here’s a more accurate headline that tells the story: “Diversity Rules as Asian Students Lead all Groups in School Achievement.”
A poll the other day said a record low 43 percent consider President Obama honest.
Surely, that must be a mistake.
How could anyone still think he’s honest?