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It’ll take gritty, emphatic leadership to rescue NYC from its Ghost Town funk

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It'll take gritty, emphatic leadership to rescue NYC from its Ghost Town funk

The last thing New York City needs is another shutdown. But the worst mayor in America just tried to kick kids off a couple of Central Park ice rinks.

The rinks, you see, are run by the Trump Organization, and because Orange Man Bad, they had to go — and to hell with the kids. To hell with the city.

Sure, Mayor de Blasio changed his mind, and so there are kids on the ice again. Anyway, given the weight bearing down on New York right now, maybe the Wollman and Lasker rinks don’t count for much. Right? But hold on a minute. They matter a lot, because normalcy matters — and because normalcy won’t return by itself.

Gotham is one of the world’s greatest cities, but it is also an idea. It has always been a dare — you make it here, you can make it anywhere, right? — and so now the challenge is as much moral as it is structural: Can we measure up? Can we regain the swagger we all took for granted a year ago?

Crises come, and crises go, but the Big Apple over time has been blessed with leaders who understood that making the wheels turn takes smarts, but also spirit. In the 1970s, as the city struggled with the necessary retrenchments of near-bankruptcy, there was the always-ebullient Ed Koch to help the bitter medicine go down. He asked, “How’m I doin’?” but you mostly knew that he was doin’ just fine, thank you.

After 9/11, Rudy Giuliani was everywhere, stoic and defiant. His presence at every firefighter’s funeral offered eloquent testimony to empathetic, but emphatic, leadership. Then came Mike Bloomberg, to guide the city through post-9/11 recovery and the Great Recession. He brought stern competence, a touch of sly humor and abiding self-confidence.

If ever mayors were made for their moments, those guys were. They understood that what matters most about leadership is to be seen leading.

But de Blasio — clueless, pinched and blinkered by ideology — wanted to kick kids off the ice. You begin to see the degree of difficulty here.

Not that the news is all bad. Gov. Cuomo, bless his bitter soul, says movie theaters can begin to reopen; indoor dining, in a manner of speaking, is coming back again, and pretty soon there might be baseball.

Little steps for little feet, for sure, but don’t knock it, because the enormity of the challenge now facing New York dwarfs every crisis the city has weathered since the British chased George Washington off Brooklyn Heights in 1776.

“Come visit us down in the financial district, all six of us,” said a friend the other day. “Nobody lives here anymore.”

Nobody drives very much on Fifth Avenue south of 59th Street anymore, either, at least mid-morning. And those sidewalk-clogging Midtown crowds are a memory. Sure, you can almost always get a cab, if you have somewhere to go, but if you get there a little early, having passed all the vacant retail space along the way, good luck finding a coffee shop to kill a few moments.

These are anecdotes, of course. But 8-plus million people live here (or maybe it’s 8-minus now?), and their daily impressions can pretty quickly add up to morale-crushing received wisdom: Subway slashings aren’t common, but everybody knows they happen, and that demented vagrants are everywhere. Who’s willing to chance it?

Only those with no choice. Thus, so much for New York’s critical transit arteries — and eventually, as things add up, maybe for the city itself.

This newspaper has been cataloguing New York’s big-picture challenges all week, each one daunting in its own right. Do they comprise a city-killing perfect storm?  This seems inconceivable, but then again, who would have thought that New York would ever have elected a soulless husk like de Blasio?

Now comes another mayoral election year. The stakes are higher, infinitely so, but will the voters be wiser? Or will the city truly become America’s Ghost Town?

It’s up to you, New York, New York. Don’t blow it.

Twitter: @RLMac2

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Opinion

Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckoning a sour ending for a transformative prime minister

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckoning a sour ending for a transformative prime minister

Benjamin Netanyahu showed the opposite of grace as he exited from power on Sunday.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — June 14, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — June 14, 2021

The Issue: The discussion of law and order at last week’s Democratic debate for mayor.

If any one of these five candidates becomes mayor, it will be the continuation of the de Blasio era (“Crime focus of Dem debate,” June 11).

Many of them are in favor of defunding the Police Department, which is why there is so much crime, and shootings are rising every day.

The people of this city had better wake up when they go to vote. Haven’t we had enough of this? When will it stop? These candidates will not put an end to all this.

Rob Johann

Queens

Thinking that a Republican candidate could not win the mayoral race in New York, I switched my party to Democrat so I could vote.

After listening to all the Democratic candidates during the debate last week, I want to immediately switch my party back to Republican and vote for Curtis Sliwa.

He is our only hope to live in a city that values law and order. He won’t cave to these left-wing zealots who will further destroy our city and our quality of life.

We need a mayor who can bring back the tourists, help our economy and ensure a better life for all of us.

We cannot let the city go into further decline with any of these Democratic candidates. Please, wake up and vote for someone who will lift all of us up.

Susan Green

Manhattan

The fact that Andrew Yang is slipping in the polls is the only good news in the mayoral race.

Eric Adams is talking about crime, while Yang thinks the biggest issues for the city are AI and climate change.

If Yang wins, people will be dreaming of “the good old days” under Mayor de Blasio, formerly thought to be the bottom of the barrel.

Andrew Delaney

Miami, Fla.

I am not impressed by any of the Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City.

What each of them is proposing will cause further crime, divisiveness and decay, raise taxes, make life more miserable for residents and visitors and drive more families out of the city.

What does it take to get through to the New York voter? How bad does it have to get before they abandon a party that is becoming more idiotic with every election cycle?

Take a look at cities and states that have been doing well under Republican leadership and consider voting Republican.

D.M. Diana

Greeley, Pa.

Even Adams is falling for it. He said the “solution” to city violent crime is to reach out to youth and improve mental-health services.

These chic answers are a guarantee that innocent New Yorkers will continue to be murdered, raped, thrown onto subway tracks and maimed.

Get the violent off the streets first. Whether they are criminal or mentally ill, sort that out afterward. Get them away from the rest of us first.

Paul O’Keefe

Union City, NJ

I generally agree with The Post’s endorsements, but I am baffled by its support of Adams for mayor.

His stance on the NYPD changes at his convenience. One day he’s anti-cop and a fierce critic of the NYPD (even though he was employed by the NYPD), and then he switches and comes across as pro-police.

Can New Yorkers elect a mayor who lacks common sense and leadership skills? His suggestion last summer to New Yorkers to settle disputes about illegal fireworks on their own and not call the police was deadly. Shatavia Walls, 33, died as a result.

Adams lacks the moral compass and common sense required to be a winning mayor. The people of New York deserve better.

Susan Berger

Brooklyn

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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Opinion

Maya Wiley can’t contain her contempt for cops

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Maya Wiley can’t contain her contempt for cops

Maya Wiley again proved what a disaster she’d be as mayor last week, by refusing to commit to not disarming cops.

At the debate, WCBS’s Marcia Kramer pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former legal adviser on what she thought of state Attorney General Letitia James’ suggestion to mandate that law-enforcers use force only as a last resort. Wiley dodged: “Safety is job one, and I’m going to keep New Yorkers safe when I’m mayor.”

So Kramer asked if she’d take guns away from the NYPD, and Wiley dropped her bomb: “I am not prepared to make that decision in a debate.”

Huh? What decision is there to make? It’d be absurd to disarm the city’s cops at any time, let alone one when the bad guys are firing their weapons at an ever-higher rate. Yet Wiley’s refusal to commit is an announcement that she finds the idea attractive.

Not that it’s a real surprise: Wiley is a police-hater who demonized NYPD officers in a campaign ad in which she claimed cops don’t think she and other black New Yorkers “deserve to breathe.”

In reality, the NYPD’s work has saved tens of thousands of black lives in recent decades, by bringing the murder rate to historic lows — though it’s now starting to inch back up because Wiley and her fans imagine that police violence is now the greater threat. Literally: She’s vowed to slash the NYPD’s budget because “trauma” from dealing with cops is a bigger problem than crime.

In reality, most minority New Yorkers want more cops in their neighborhoods, though of course they want the police to do their jobs as politely as possible. Then too, the force itself is now majority-minority.

All of which is why Eric Adams wisely made fighting crime the signature issue of his campaign and why he leads in the polls. But a large and fractured field plus the advent of ranked-choice voting could let a loon like Wiley sneak into the Democratic nomination and likely victory in the fall — unless all sane New Yorkers make sure to leave her entirely off their ballots and choose only pro-public-safety candidates.

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