Mayor Bill de Blasio was already having a bad week. Then Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called.
Mr. Cuomo had cast the city as slow-footed in responding to a recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx. Fed up, Mr. de Blasio’s press secretary, Karen Hinton, issued a sharp retort. “What about the state’s performance?” she said to a reporter. “What has the state been doing to prevent this disease?”
Taken aback, the governor quickly called Mr. de Blasio. Aides at City Hall, themselves startled by the remark, issued an unusual clarification: The mayor’s chief spokeswoman, the public face of the administration, had not been speaking for the mayor.
The episode, recounted by several people familiar with the discussion, was an extraordinary public moment of discord, laying bare a host of challenges confronting the de Blasio administration in a messy second year: tension among aides; a perilous, often powerless relationship with Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat; and the struggles of Mr. de Blasio, a political operative by training, to control the perception of his stewardship.
When the mayor’s top political aide raised concerns about battling the car-service app Uber, saying it could be a tough fight, Mr. de Blasio pushed forward, prompting a public relations fiasco that ended with City Hall’s abruptly dropping a proposal to limit the company’s growth.
Warned that rising complaints about homelessness could hurt him politically, Mr. de Blasio announced action on the issue this month, appearing reactive to negative headlines.
And while federal authorities praised the mayor’s handling of the Legionnaires’ outbreak as “swift” and “robust,” the response was still questioned by some city Democrats. Frustrated, the mayor led a marathon weekend meeting with agency leaders, demanding details on their progress.
In interviews, allies of the mayor said they deeply supported Mr. de Blasio and his efforts to combat inequality. But they expressed worry that his administration had not done enough to ensure New Yorkers recognize his accomplishments.
“There are a lot of positive programs going in the right direction, and yet, it’s not being perceived because of so many other floundering situations,” Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president and a Democrat, said. “It’s not being presented in a way that people can see it.”
Now, de Blasio has taken his shots at Gov. Cuomo...oh yeah, and President Obama, too. He definitely has issues making friends higher up, and yes, he's made some bad calls. But the complaints leveled against him here by the NY Times tells me that he's making the right kind of enemies, too (namely Uber and, well, not to put too fine a point on it, Cuomo.)
We'll see how he can hold up. I think he can turn this to his advantage if he can show that what he's doing is working. The problem is there's a lot of New Yorkers invested in making sure that doesn't happen.