Gonzalez: Promises made to the 99% must be fulfilled


	This prescient 99%er may not have known what he wanted, but he knew change was coming down the pike.

Jeanne Noonan/Freelance NYDN

This prescient 99%er may not have known what he wanted, but the change was hoping for will come with Bill de Blasio in City Hall.

You knew from the words and the big smiles of the voters leaving PS 72 in East Harlem on Tuesday that a new era was dawning in New York City politics.

The economic feast Manhattan’s wealthy elite enjoyed under Mayor Bloomberg for 12 long years was about to end. With Bill de Blasio in City Hall, and with a host of other liberal Democrats for public advocate, controller and City Council, voters have now put into office this town’s most progressive government in half a century.

“Bloomberg was too much for the rich,” said Zaida Rodriguez, a retired IRS auditor, after casting her vote for de Blasio.

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“Most of us can’t afford to live in this neighborhood anymore because the rents are so high,” said Elmer Medina, 59, a customer service representative for American Airlines and lifelong East Harlem resident.

“At least de Blasio understands us and will do something about affordable housing,” Medina said.

“I’m tired of the police stopping me in the street for no reason and embarrassing me in public,” said Jose Ortiz, 43, a window washer who was drawn to de Blasio by his stance on racial profiling.

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Hard to believe it was only two years ago that Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to clear the Occupy Wall Street protests. But while cops dispersed the youthful dissidents with massive arrests, they couldn’t snuff out the seductive slogan of their movement: “We are the 99%.”

Those words catapulted the scandal of wealth inequality into the mainstream of national thought. The slogan fueled a surge of urban populism that candidates like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and de Blasio have since ridden into higher office.

But we’re not just talking in this city about de Blasio. Letitia James, our new public advocate, is even more to the left politically than de Blasio. Controller-elect Scott Stringer instantly becomes the most conservative citywide office holder, and Stringer’s an old-fashioned clubhouse liberal.

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Then there’s the 51-member City Council. Of 21 new Council members elected this week, more than half were backed by the Working Families Party. That’s the independent political coalition that is sponsored by several labor unions, and whose influence keeps growing.

“We did much better than even we expected,” Dan Cantor, executive director of Working Families, conceded.

Cantor projects the size of the Council’s progressive caucus will nearly double from its current 12 members to 24 — nearly half of the Council.

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A Mayor de Blasio, in other words, won’t face the kind of legislative gridlock that has dogged President Obama in Congress.

He will have considerable freedom to implement key campaign promises — especially in areas where he only needs City Council approval.

Things like requiring mandatory affordable-housing levels in new real estate developments, expanding sick pay benefits for low-wage workers, ending racial profiling in police stop-and-frisk and charging rent for charter schools co-located in public school buildings.

After 12 years of the 1% having their way, our city has voted for a new direction. Starting in January, we’ll see how many promises to the 99% actually get kept.

jgonzalez@nydailynews.com

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