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Queens Chronicle

Mayor raises hopes — and expectations too

Southeast Queens expects mayor and new Council to come through

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:03 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

Mayor de Blasio and a newly configured City Council rode progressive platforms to victory in November.

De Blasio did so in a landslide, running as the anti-Bloomberg, and Southeast Queens supported him overwhelmingly while electing or re-electing a solid bloc of Democrats to the Council.

But civic leaders in Southeast said this week that they now expect de Blasio to do what he has promised to do.

Barbara Brown, president of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said de Blasio’s actions on education will be telling.

“I hope he’s looking at the school system and thinking about substantial changes,” she said. The issue of closing schools was a particular lightning rod for Bloomberg in Southeast.

“He focused too long on closing schools,” she said. “People would like to see other solutions. Statistics don’t tell the whole story.”

De Blasio campaigned against school closures and co-locations of charter schools, as well as the ubiquitous “increasing parental involvement.”

Brown said many de Blasio supporters, particularly those focusing on education, are torn between the desire to fix glaring problems quickly, and the realistic need for a new administration to prepare and implement its policies.

“The schools needed to be fixed 10 years ago,” Brown said. “I want changes and evaluations of curriculum as fast as possible. But anybody new needs time to assess the situation.”

Greg Mays is the founder of A Better Jamaica, a past president of the Addisleigh Park Civic Association and a member of Community Board 12.

He is both an excited de Blasio supporter and an admirer of Bloomberg, with the notable exception of the latter’s defense of police stop-and-frisk practices.

“I’m excited by the new mayor and the new Council,” Mays said. “I think Mayor Bloomberg was visionary, but he was of his time.”

Mays fully supports de Blasio’s talk of dropping the city’s appeal in the federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit. And he said it is vital that de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) follow through on their promises to repair the city’s safety net for those less well off economically.

“The safety net has been neglected,” Mays said.

And he added that people should and will hold them accountable to deliver on those promises.

“I think he should not need much of a honeymoon period,” Mays said. “I think you could begin to see some real changes in three to six months. Mayor de Blasio is realistic and pragmatic. But he also served on the City Council. He was public advocate for four years. That’s more than enough time to really study the government and ask what he would do differently.”

Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose-Hillside Civic Association, also said de Blasio can build much good will by merely following through on campaign promises, citing Bloomberg’s decision to co-locate a new technical high school in the Martin Van Buren High School building, and dramatically slashing the number of Van Buren students to accommodate it.

While several civics in the area supported the move, Wind’s group is one of the handful that did not.

“Mayor de Blasio has spoken out in the past against co-location,” Wind said. “I hope he’ll follow through on that.”

Wind added new Borough President Melinda Katz to the mix when talking of the local fight to stop a pair of apartment towers on the site of the proposed Indian Cultural and Community Center on land at the Creedmoor Hospital campus.

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