Opinion: It might be time for a clean break

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office

Many people know of Shakespeare’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech, but not as many know its third through fifth lines:

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.”

A lot of bones have been interred this year in New York City, cremated and buried in private graveyards and our potter’s field. (How odd we seem to have an island for everything.) It seems to me that the shame of working for Mayor Bill de Blasio — surely not the worst government executive in America this year — will live on for many different people for many years.

Mayor is important. It affects the schools and the transportation and the NYPD and that’s even before we start thinking about land use and housing.T here are lots of reasons to be angry at de Blasio. Three of next year’s mayoral candidates worked for him — three women who will have to account for their time in the de Blasio administration.

Adverse selection is the concept, basically, that when an organization sucks long enough and hard enough, all the good people leave and the people who gain more power are the bad people.

Take Oxiris Barbot: A gifted pediatrician and administrator, she was the first Latina to head the Department of Health. She lasted less than 20 months in her position before she resigned in the middle of 2020, fed up with constantly dealing with the mayor’s lack of reality.

Personally I think the NYPD is too large, too aggressive, and too top-heavy. But now we’re losing the wrong people at the top.

Fausto Pichardo was not only the highest-ranked Latino in the NYPD, at 43 years old and by most measures the third-highest-ranking uniformed officer in the city, he was responsible for all the cops on patrol. Exactly the sort of young white shirt (police commander) who could become commissioner one day. Lori Pollock (Chief of Collaborative Policing), Theresa Shortell (Chief of Training Bureau), and Nilda Hofmann (Chief of Transportation — not Transit — Bureau, handles highways and traffic) all departed in the last two years because they couldn’t deal with de Blasio’s ridiculousness.

Almost everyone who started with de Blasio seven years ago has left. Of his inner circle, I think only Emma Wolfe remains. Many left a long time ago. I am not sure how many years you have to have spent high-up with Mayor de Blasio before you are culpable for him. Two? Three? Four?

Loree Sutton, the ex-brigadier general and former commissioner of Veterans Services, has relatively little to answer for but is unlikely to be a top five candidate. Kathryn Garcia lasted a while with de Blasio but mostly at a distance from City Hall. 

Maya Wiley was counsel to de Blasio for two years and six months, and chair of his civilian complaint review board for one year and two months.

Let’s reflect on how Mark Antony felt, or claimed to have felt, at the end of his funeral oration for Caesar:

“O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
and men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
and I must pause till it come back to me.”

Nick Rizzo is a former Democratic District Leader and a political consultant who lives in Greenpoint. Follow him on Twitter @NickRizzo.