2013-10-18 / Columnists

Commentary on Things Present

Professional or Progressive
By Pete Stubben

In a few weeks you gotta make a decision... the restaurant you built on Beach 116th Street - Maggie’s Place - is flourishing; but ‘big Mike’, Maggie’s business & restaurant manager, is leaving and needs to be replaced ASAP. Your two best prospects are uniquely qualified...

Prospect number 2 knows serving and clean-up conditions quite well in restaurants all around the city, if not specifically your beach-front bistro. He’s a union rep and shop steward for Local #6 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union of America. He speaks wonderfully and wondrously, and identifies great with the servers and bussers. He will make sure the staff is treated well and paid well, with a boost to 14 sick days a year and a fair wage for The Rockaways.

Prospect number 1 is a chef. After culinary school he apprenticed in kitchens all across NYC. He knows what customers like, how to keep them coming back with interesting food at good prices, plus he’s well connected around the city with other chefs who experiment and are successful. He’s sufficiently comfortable with food purveyors around the city; understands the mechanics of ordering food & fish with minimal waste, and knowledgeable about the links to the truck farmers & vegetable growers around Tri-State New York. Finally, he’s spent his kitchen-career making sure the food servers are proficient and professional too... that they enjoy their role as much as he enjoys his role.

So, who’s your best prospect for Maggie’s to continue to flourish... the guy dedicating his career to satisfying customers so that they return again and again for dining gustability? Or, the guy dedicating his career to advocacy... devoid of success, results, accomplishments?

Certainly, I’ve greased-down and oversimplified the job qualifications for America’s second most vital public position... that is, for the Mayor of America’s Greatest City... that requires inordinate hard work and stewardship over a city budget in excess of $70 billion dollars, and a city payroll of 300,000 employees. We are the financial capital, the entertainment capital, the tourism capital, the Fortune-500 capitol, the scholarship capitol, the immigrant capitol for the United States, if not the world. So, the fact remains... in two weeks or so we select the city’s new leader - will it be the ‘professional’ Joe Lhota, or the ‘progressive’ Bill de Blasio.

Lhota has spent his career strengthening NYC’s infrastructure and widening her net of prosperity for all New Yorkers. De Blasio has spent his career leery of infrastructure, dismantling institutions. This past 34-year path of mayoral success from Koch to Bloomberg, although fraught with monumental tragedy, has left New York City a better and bigger city, a grander city, a more prosperous, progressive and more beautiful city. Should our next mayor be a dismantler or an architect? Should our next mayor be the chef or the shop steward?

The past is inescapable; our next mayor needs to pursue the highest aspirations of all our 108 Mayors... from the loneliest sentiments of Peter Stuyvesant and Seth Low to the hardbitten realities of Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

So, will you choose a professional or a progressive... that is, a credentialed professional or a self-described progressive?

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