Dave Begley: Live from Sioux City

Our occasional correspondent Dave Begley was on hand when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio brought his newly minted presidential campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to Iowa on Friday (photo courtesy of Dave with de Blasio and his wife). Dave is a Nebraska attorney practicing elder law and estate planning in Omaha. Dave posed a question to de Blasio from the small group gathered to hear him and escaped to file this report:

The mayor of America’s largest city made his first official campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday night. Sioux City is a decidedly blue-collar town and it was where I first saw candidate Donald Trump fill a high school gym nearly four years ago. In my post I began to see Trump’s appeal to a wide variety of voters and the power of his immigration position.

De Blasio spoke at Rebo’s. If there is a hipster place in town, this is it. The crowd numbered exactly 24 as I counted them. That’s one more than the current Democrat field. This included at least three people from New York City. One of the New Yorkers complained that the city had not fixed the lock on her door.

Another odd thing is that event was in a very large room and the candidate had to compete with ten patrons ten feet from him who were eating and laughing away while completely ignoring him. Later a train rolled by and blew its whistle.

His stump speech made only two points. He is on the side of working people. In New York City he has promoted free stuff for working people — free health care, free pre-K and paid sick leave. Trump is a bully and the mayor knows how to deal with bullies. One has to take them on and confront them. He is the candidate who will aggressively take on Trump. He’s a fighter.

De Blasio claimed that the president doesn’t like to be called Don. He has also nicknamed him Con Don. I wonder if President Trump will even bother to give de Blasio a nickname. The high school version of de Blasio was known as Senator Provolone. I’m thinking Billy D might work.

My question was as follows:

DDB: Mr. Mayor, the cattle business is a big part of the Iowa economy. I know that you support the Green New Deal and it would really have a big impact on cattle and agriculture. Why should Iowans vote for you with that in mind?

He responded:

BD: First of all Iowans, like all Americans, have to focus on the survival of this planet. We’ve got to stop global warming. Look at the horrible floods that Iowa has experienced — all the extreme weather we are seeing all over the country. This is a very dangerous situation. And if we don’t reverse it, it is at our peril and certainly at the peril of our children and grandchildren. So the Green New Deal – the reason I support it – is that it is urgent and it recognizes we cannot continue business as usual. In New York City we have just put in place the most aggressive new laws on big buildings, to limit their emissions and a whole host of things. To that question of that part of the Green New Deal [on cattle], I think we are going to have more balance. … I see it as a framework for a whole series of changes.

Later he said that global warming is an existential threat and according to the UN we only have 12 years to act. And, of course, its implementation will create all sorts of jobs.

The biggest applause from the crowd came following a question about abortion. A woman asserted that the new Alabama law was a part of the male GOP’s alleged war on women and would put women in jail and deprive them of their vote. The mayor’s reply was that the recent laws were “crazy, inhumane, immoral and wrong.” He thinks this is a defining issue and women won’t stand for this. He will fight for a woman’s right to choose. According to polls, “something like two-thirds of Americans or more believe in a woman’s right to choose.”

New York City currently has 70,000 children in pre-K. He wants to take that national and lower it to age 3. “Public schools will define the future of our country.” Some people think that public schools – especially in the cities – are a big part of the problem.

George Kelling passed away this week. With James Q. Wilson he proposed the very successful Broken Windows method of policing. Billy D is not a fan. Under his watch the police have shifted to neighborhood policing. He bragged that New York is the safest big city in the country.

Violent crime rates have dropped in New York City since the early 1990’s. The adoption of Broken Windows policing under Rudy Giuliani during his first term as mayor contributed to a historic decline. I believe that Bill Bratton continued the method during his tenure as police commissioner under de Blasio from 2014-2016 and that the department continues to use the CompStat analysis for crime prevention. Historical and current research is collected here.

China remains in the news and the tariff increases have hurt farmers, especially soybean farmers. De Blasio asserted that there was no end in sight and that the President didn’t have a strategy. While one may disagree with the President’s methods, he certainly has a strategy and there is no substitute for victory.

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