Why Black Folks Should Be Wary of Bill de Blasio

Enough giddiness over Dante’s famous ’fro and the city’s second black first lady. Time to take a harder look at what Mayor-elect de Blasio is up to.

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, with Bill Bratton's wife, Rikki Klieman, as de Blasio names Bratton to lead the New York City Police Department on Dec. 5, 2013, in New York City Spencer Platt/Getty Images

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith made a strong point recently: “In Mike Bloomberg’s New York, the mayor bribed you, buying the silence or cooperation of individuals, cultural organizations, and social service groups with hundreds in millions of dollars spent on small personal favors—a legal payment here, a medical procedure there—and charitable contributions.”

This charge obviously deconstructs the charm and political-throwback appeal of de Blasio’s urban-proletariat revolution. But the new mayor, absent access to Bloomberg’s personal billions, will have to wrestle with the city’s public-sector unions demanding $7 billion in retroactive pay raises during contract negotiations. Plus, with the city just recently eliminating its $2 billion deficit into fiscal year 2015, he’ll face a tough choice: the possibility of painful budget cuts in crucial city services or, potentially, a paralyzing citywide strike.

Navigating all of that will require dropping a campaign pledge or two—the same ones that got him elected in the first place. But we’re all so enamored with the black wife and Afro-blazing biracial kid in campaign commercials that we hadn’t gotten around to that yet.

Charles D. Ellison is a veteran political strategist and frequent contributor to The Root. He is also Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune and chief political correspondent for Uptown magazine. You can reach him via Twitter.