Urban

Bill De Blasio Wants America's Mayors to Create an ‘Urban Consensus’ to Fix Problems

January 24, 2014

Bill de Blasio was the mayor of the moment on Thursday.

In office for less than a month, he arrived here for the winter meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors and was swarmed by men and women who hold the same title, but who wanted something from him: a handshake, a photo, a few words. Mostly about snow.

It was a spectacle of peer-on-peer admiration, with a touch of peer pressure, for Mr. de Blasio, the first Democratic mayor of New York City in 20 years, whose every liberal-leaning move or utterance is being watched for national implications and reverberations.

He was not on the meeting’s agenda, but was added as a last-minute special guest on Thursday morning. Mr. de Blasio seemed at ease with his rock-star reception and got right to it, shaking hands, repeating the names of well-wishers and bowing his head slightly so all 6 feet 5 inches of him could fit in a snapshot-taker’s frame.

If he made no news, Mr. de Blasio assuredly promoted his priorities: a tax on the wealthy to finance free prekindergarten classes for every 4-year-old in the city, and an expansion of paid sick leave for workers. Both drew applause in the ballroom of the Capital Hilton, where he delivered his speech.

Mr. de Blasio divulged no plans to form a new coalition of urban leaders, as his predecessor Michael R. Bloomberg had with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He revealed no interest in being elected president of the conference, a title held generations ago by Robert F. Wagner and Fiorello H. La Guardia.

But he urged the hundreds of other mayors to join him in forging what he called a “national urban consensus” stretching beyond paid sick leave and prekindergarten to encompass transportation and affordable housing.

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