New York City has faced many crises before, and we’ve always recovered. But in the past, we’ve had a champion, a booster, a leader who unites us and gives us hope for a better future. Today, we are looking for that leader. This is true for those considering leaving the city, of course, but it goes double for those who call the city home and have never considered it merely a stop along the way.
Last week, an article referenced the stakes of this leadership vacuum — namely that New York’s declining tax base, heavily reliant on its wealthiest residents, underwrites infrastructure and social services on which all of us rely.
The response from the office of the mayor? Literally: “Kick rocks, billionaires.” Wait, what? I was stunned.
This mentality, paired with an incoherent strategy and lack of an affirmative vision for helping New Yorkers coping with economic disaster, is terrifying.
The mayor has to know that our recovery is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Trying to distract 8 million New Yorkers in search of hope and leadership with the specter of “billionaires” is a silly and dangerous diversion.
Here is the speech I wish the mayor would give:
This is the greatest city in the world. In good times and in bad. It’s the commingling of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and hard work that makes NYC the best place to live, work, study and visit. Whoever you are, you are welcome here. Whatever your interests and inspiration, you’ll find kindred spirits here. This is true in good times, when the city has attracted capital and business, but it’s also true in tougher times, when we have given birth to some of the greatest art on the planet and new immigrants have brought new possibilities and new energy to our complicated, messy, impossible, perfect and imperfect city.
Native New Yorkers know this, and millions of people who come here in search of new ideas and opportunities know this also.
2020 has knocked the wind out of us. We’ve lost 30,000 of our neighbors, family and friends. The task ahead of us is monumental. But we’ll emerge an even better, stronger, more just city than ever before.