For most Democrats vying for the White House in 2020, holding a rally inside Trump Tower would normally present a golden-escalator sized opportunity to hit the President where it hurts. Yet for Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThree arrested for allegedly assaulting NYC hostess who asked for COVID-19 vaccine proof Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE, his efforts to knock Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE on climate change fell flat on the marble floor.
Monday’s rally at 725 Fifth Avenue was purportedly in support of a package of legislation known as New York City’s ‘Green New Deal,’ billed by progressives as the “largest single legislative mandate to reduce carbon emissions in the world.”
Unlike most rallies, however, the advocates weren’t actually calling for any bills to pass. This anomaly could be attributed to two reasons. First, the City Council had already passed its ‘Green New Deal’ nearly a month earlier; and second, de Blasio has not yet signed the bill, meaning it’s the mayor himself who is the only impediment to its immediate implication.
The trouble only starts there.
The mayor, who is decidedly on-the-fence about whether or not to run for president, is no doubt well aware of the city’s rules against using city resources for political purposes, but that didn’t stop his city hall staff from organizing and publicizing Monday’s event. It would be tough to argue that it was not political considering the building they chose is in full compliance with existing laws, is one of nearly 50,000 affected by the change, and its owner just happens to be the very person the mayor is considering running against.
The message was less about clean air and more about calling out “the Trump Organization… for what they are doing to the climate.” In case there was any doubt, de Blasio tweeted a “Notice to Donald J. Trump,” for good measure.
Even though the rally was an official function of the mayor’s office, it was organized quite unprofessionally. Building maintenance staff cranked up the PA system to blast Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve got you under my skin,” which may have only helped to drown out the standard boos and jeers that regularly accompany a de Blasio entrance. During the press conference, a cohort of pro-Trump demonstrators could be seen in the background waving signs that read, “worst mayor ever,” “failed mayor,” and that mockingly depicted de Blasio as Big Bird.
De Blasio and his compatriots had their own signs, as well, including one which listed the fines they would levy against the Trump Organization for failing to comply with the city’s new emissions standards — except, the Trump Organization actually faces no fines at all, nor do any other owners, because the provisions of the legislation regarding emissions do not go into effect until 2030.
From de Blasio’s rhetoric, you would think that Donald Trump is single-handedly polluting the city; and if you heard it from a biased media report (like CBS, for example), you would think that only the Trumps and Kushners owned buildings covered by the law. In reality, they do not even come close to owning the worst emission offenders in the city.
The Empire State Building, the Google Building on 8th Avenue, and Mount Sinai Medical center each face far steeper fines. Thanks to the city’s building disclosure laws, we know that the mayor’s own New York City Housing Authority emits far more than the private sector. Oh, and if you were wondering why CNN didn’t cover the rally, it may be because their soon-to-be-abandoned headquarters, the Time Warner Center, is one of the highest polluting buildings in the city under de Blasio’s new formula. So why not do it there, Bill?
The truth is, it is easier for de Blasio and company to blame Donald Trump than to tell the full story of New York’s Green New Deal. Many of the 50,000 buildings that are covered by it are owned by co-op boards who will have to finance the retrofitting themselves, or by owners who will simply pass the costs on to their tenants. The Green New Deal also bans plastic bags and mandates a 5-cent fee should you chose to use a paper one.
The Mayor and his allies have taken another bold and extraordinary step in making New York City unaffordable in the name of progressive policy. These will be tough topics to discuss if he chooses to campaign in the Midwest, where a Democratic nominee surely must win to beat Donald Trump. But if de Blasio’s first non-political presidential campaign rally is any indication, he wont make it that far anyway.
Joseph Borelli is a candidate for New York City Public Advocate, the minority whip of the City Council, a Republican commentator, professor and Lindsay Fellow at the City University of New York's Institute for State and Local Governance. He served as co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign. He has also been published in the NY Daily News, DC Examiner and Washington Times and appears on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, BBC and HLN. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeBorelliNYC.