New York Mayor Bill de Blasio criticised for appointing liberals

Activist charts new course for Big Apple by giving jobs to campaigners rather than experts

There was always a sense that New York’s progressive Mayor, Bill de Blasio, a grassroots organiser who rose to power with the backing of the labour unions, was going to do things differently than his predecessor, the billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

Two months into his tenure, after being elected in a landslide, his administration is finally taking shape. And, in a departure for the office he holds, the Mayor has chosen to fill his team not with experienced managers, but with liberal campaigners. On Friday Mr de Blasio, himself a long-time advocate for progressive causes, announced the appointment of Steven Banks, attorney in chief of the not-for-profit Legal Aid Society, as commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration.

Mr Banks, a critic of past mayors’ policies regarding underprivileged New Yorkers, joins an administration that already includes, in senior positions, former union organisers, leading civil rights activists and top Democrat campaigners. Mr de Blasio reportedly chooses candidates who share his enthusiasm for social change and then finds a role to suit them. The approach is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Mr Bloomberg, who filled his staff with fellow business leaders.

On Saturday, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch tweeted that New York City was now “totally managed by leftist activists with no experience in running anything beyond protests”. The News Corp boss warned that there would be a “big mess ahead”.

“Old habits die very hard,” Mark Green, another liberal mayoral candidate, told The New York Times. As mayors, Mr Green said, “Giuliani [a former lawyer] was a prosecutor, Bloomberg was a CEO, and so far, Bill’s a political labour activist”. After Mr Bloomberg’s three consecutive terms as mayor, the city’s wealthy residents might have become used to the idea of a business-friendly leader.

But Mr de Blasio has already faced opposition from some quarters for his attitude to the rich, specifically his plan to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 (£299,000) in order to fund early education programmes. In January, residents of the wealthy Upper East Side complained when the neighbourhood was left unploughed by the city’s snow-clearers following a winter storm. Mr de Blasio later apologised for the lapse.

Appearing on The Daily Show last week, the actor and New York resident Liam Neeson revealed that he, too, was “a little bit pissed off” with Mr de Blasio for his plan to roll up the city’s historic horse-drawn carriage industry and replace the hansom cabs with vintage replica electric cars. Neeson claimed that critics of the carriages, a popular tourist attraction on the streets that surround New York’s Central Park, have disseminated false information about mistreatment of the animals involved. The actor told The Daily Show host Jon Stewart that the carriage drivers, who number around 170, treat the horses “like their children”.

Stewart also lambasted Mr de Blasio in January, after footage emerged of the Mayor eating a pizza using a knife and fork, like a European.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all