The de Blasio Administration: Where Ideology Trumps Competence

Let me start this post by being fair to Bill de Blasio: He won the election, his political philosophy got affirmed in the process, and as a consequence, he has the right to hire people who share that philosophy.

That having been written, it would be nice if he would balance out ideological hiring with hires on the basis of competence as well. But the still-newish mayor of New York doesn’t seem to be all that inclined to do that. The dangers of de Blasio’s approach are, of course, obvious to everyone but de Blasio and his acolytes:

. . . some observers warn of an echo chamber, since almost no one in the city’s new political hierarchy seems poised to challenge Mr. de Blasio’s policies publicly.

“What’s striking is not who he’s surrounding himself with; it’s the absence of any counterweight to it,” said Fred Siegel, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a scholar in residence at St. Francis College.

Accusations that an echo chamber is being built are certainly buttressed by the following:

Aides say Mr. de Blasio works backward in his hiring process, starting by identifying a candidate who shares his political philosophy or views on policy, and then figuring out how the person could fit into his administration.

The story mentions that there are some people who have been hired on by the de Blasio administration on the basis of their skills and talents, but such hirings appear to be more the exception and less the rule. It would seem almost a cliché to mention this, but if a Republican executive were to engage in this brand of ideological hiring, s/he would be blasted by the New York Times and by all those who celebrate de Blasio’s hiring practices for supposedly ensuring the triumph of epistemic closure. In any event, true friends of Bill de Blasio will view with alarm the fact that there are so few people in his administration who seem to have managerial experience, and who were brought on because of what they can do, rather than what they believe. But if the New York Times story is any indication, Bill de Blasio has rather few true friends.