Today while the rest of us were celebrating Stephen Colbert’s succession of David Letterman, Mayor Bill de Blasio was celebrating himself. Specifically, his first 100 days in office, which he marked in a speech at Cooper Union’s Great Hall.
Students of the college brought back the red “Free Education To All” banner that made several appearances during the doomed two-year battle to keep Cooper Union tuition-free. It didn’t last long.
Before De Blasio went on, “Rockaway Beach” apparently played, as befits a speech made just a few blocks from Joey Ramone Way, by a mayor who just appointed a new Sandy recovery team for the Rockaways. Apparently the Ramones song also played after the speech. (This is the guy who once rewrote “I Wanna Be Sedated.”)
Contrary to reputation, the mayor arrived early, wearing a blue tie with a dark suit that “looks like it needs a pressing,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis blog. He began his address to 600 invited guests by remembering police officer David Guerra, who died yesterday after sustaining injuries Sunday at the scene of a Coney Island fire.
What followed was a bit of a “kitchen-sink” speech, according to the WSJ’s Carrie Melango. From Metro New York reporter Anna Sanders’s tweets, we know the mayor namechecked Plato and Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason’s character on The Honeymooners (“BdB in speech marking likely end of his own Honeymoon,” she typed). He also talked about eating ice cream when he signed the bill for paid sick leave, Melango tweeted. And he offered his two cents on potholes (“You can tell the difference when a pothole is filled versus when it hasn’t been,” quoted New York Times City Hall bureau chief Mike Grynbaum on Twitter.)
At some point, De Blasio — who The New York Times reports has a 49 percent approval rating — discussed his tenure’s earliest achievements. According to Sanders, snowstorm clean-up, the $300,000 advertisement campaign for pre-K classes, and measures taken to decrease the number of stop-and-frisks. The Mayor also cited a 26 percent drop in pedestrian fatalities during the first quarter of 2014 vs. 2013, according to The New York Observer.
Mayoral pledges included saving 200,000 affordable housing units, and coming to the aid of those still impacted by Hurricane Sandy, reported The Observer. Toward the end of the speech, Sanders tweeted that de Blasio critized the 5-day delay New Yorkers experience on average when they request a repair from the City Housing Authority, advocating energy retrofitting as a way to make buildings more sustainable.
Following a video segment and closing remarks, Mayor de Blasio greeted guests and took selfies. Then he left Lower Manhattan to get back to the more immediate concerns of the city, like Stephen Colbert.