New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appears concerned more about maintaining his public image than achieving the aims outlined in his big-ticket initiatives or bolstering pandemic response efforts. According to the New York Post, the city came "undone" during de Blasio’s final year as mayor.
The Mayor’s Management Report revealed the city is unsafe due to police cuts and failure to enforce laws — all the while, school enrollment continued to drop amid efforts to scrap advanced classes for gifted children.
The report found significant felony crimes increased for a third consecutive year, and city streets — the mayor’s top priority under his keystone initiative, "Vision Zero," are less safe as 275 people – including 133 pedestrians – were killed in traffic accidents, a 30 percent jump over the previous year and the most since 2014.
NYPD only arrested 13 drivers for hitting pedestrians with their cars, despite 1,800 such collisions on record. The number of issued speeding and failure-to-yield summonses dropped by more than 27 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
Compared to pre-pandemic levels, summonses issued by cops dropped 57 percent.
The NYPD wrote 298,377 violations of driving laws between July 1, 2020, and June 31, 2021, the twelve months covered by the report. That’s a mere fraction of the 696,012 summons cops handed out over the same period in 2019 when they reported 218 traffic-related deaths.
Transit advocates pressed state lawmakers to allow city officials to run the red light and speed cameras 24-hours a day, citing the massive decline in enforcement of traffic laws. Currently, they operate on weekdays between 6 am and 10 pm.
This comes in light of the mayor’s frequent calls to action on fighting climate change that de Blasio failed to address. The city added no new Select Bus Service miles this past fiscal year, with the number of new bike lanes added the lowest since 2016.
Concerns also arose over his daily COVID briefings because they often devolved into political sideshows seemingly aimed at bolstering his image — to the extent of his reported mulling of a run for governor in 2022.
During Thursday’s virtual briefing from City Hall, the mayor blamed the report's findings on the pandemic.
“The traffic fatalities, for example, some of what we’ve seen with crime, some of what we see in terms of Department of Correction, all of that is because COVID set a whole series of things in motion,” he insisted.
“There are always other problems, always,” de Blasio said: “I’m not trying to say COVID is the only problem.”
“I’m saying the numbers you’ll see in the report that are not satisfying at all have, in many cases, a basis in the disruption of COVID,” he added: “It doesn’t mean anything, but we have to keep working with every tool we’ve got to fix it.”
Major felony offenses in New York increased 0.6 percent over last year. There were 489 cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter this fiscal year, a 38.9 percent hike over the same 12-month period last year.
The number of grand larceny auto cases also increased by a whopping 47.2 percent.
However, the number of reported rapes, robberies and grand larcenies dropped from the fiscal year 2020.
The Department of Correction (DOC) also attempts to impede the ensuing chaos between jailed gang members by cracking down on the “serious violent actions” of inmates. However, the report suggested that dire staffing shortages make it difficult to provide inmates medical attention at prison infirmaries.
Health clinic visits also declined considerably by 68 percent from 2020.
About 70 percent of current inmates are awaiting trial for a violent felony offense. Gang members constitute 23 percent of the jail population, up from 17 percent in 2020. This comes after a spike in violent incidents across city jails from 80 per month last year to 98 this year, representing a 23 percent increase.
The report blamed the violence on the pandemic and the backlogged state court system.
Rocked by continued controversy on education, COVID and the controversial tenure and abrupt exit of former chancellor Richard Carranza found the previous school year marked by uncertainty.
Traditional metrics used to assess the Department of Education’s performance — like grades, school safety, and attendance — were distorted by the pandemic’s impact and not covered in the report.
But, the report noted that kindergarten enrollment fell by nearly 10,000 kids last year, going from 67,589 in 2020 to 58,469. Kindergarten enrollment has been down by 15 percent since 2017, but the trend accelerated due to the pandemic.
The number of city kids enrolled in special education also dipped for the first time in five years, going from 305,429 to 295,623 last year, found the report.
Concerningly, the number of calls from families to school parent coordinators ballooned from 8,863 in 2020 to 12,800 last year — and has doubled since 2017.
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