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Monday, October 20, 2014

The challenges of 2014, and a look back

The 12-year Bloomberg era is coming to an end, and New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will usher in a more progressive city. De Blasio encapsulated the liberal spirit of the city by attacking the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk initiative and promising to tax the rich to establish universal pre-K throughout the five boroughs.

Recently appointed to perhaps the most important post in de Blasio’s administration is Bill Bratton, who will serve as NYPD commissioner. Bratton, who has previously served as the top cop in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston, is a seasoned professional, and certainly knows how to fight crime. During his first NYPD tour, felony crime dropped 39 percent.

This is a well-calculated move by de Blasio to quell critics who believe his campaign to end stop-and-frisk will result in higher crime and homicide rates.

Bratton has some big shoes to fill. My friend Ray Kelly has done a tremendous job as police commissioner, making New York City one of the safest cities in the world. Crime is down 40 percent from 2001, and Kelly has set the protocol when it comes to counterterrorism. I hope Bratton can build on those improvements.

De Blasio made big promises during his campaign, including universal free pre-K. This initiative, though bold, is a good idea, and necessary in New York City. Currently, approximately 20,000 of New York’s 68,000 4-year-olds get city-funded, full-day pre-kindergarten classes. Estimates show that it would take approximately $342 million to cover the additional pre-K slots.

De Blasio has stated that in order to come up with $342 million, he plans on raising the marginal tax rate on incomes above $500,000 to 4.4 percent from about 3.9 percent. The mayor-elect must try to find a way to do this without putting so much emphasis on taxing the rich. Such a tax increase would trigger an exodus of people who spend money in New York City. There must be a balance.

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