National News

De Blasio Embarks on a 5-Day Swing Through the South

Posted March 9, 2018 11:13 p.m. EST

A week after a nor’easter grounded a planned trip to Atlanta, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has his bags packed again for the South — and then South by Southwest.

During a five-day, taxpayer-funded swing through Baltimore; Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C., de Blasio says he will meet with like-minded progressive mayors to promote issues such as tax reform and federal funding for public housing, and speak out against the Trump administration.

De Blasio used President Donald Trump as a foil during his recent re-election campaign and has promised to take on more of a national profile to help elect and promote progressive leaders.

“President Trump and his Republican Congress regularly threaten the well-being of New Yorkers,” Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for de Blasio, said in a statement. “The mayor uses these events to identify key, and sometimes unlikely, allies he can work with to influence congressional members and share resistance strategies that are working.”

On Friday and Saturday, de Blasio was to attend the Progressive Caucus Center Strategy Summit in Baltimore, where he will speak about the role mayors can play in pushing for “policies that contribute to economic fairness and participatory democracy.”

De Blasio will also meet with individual members of Congress to discuss federal funding. Also on the agenda in Baltimore are meetings with Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union.

From Saturday through Monday, de Blasio will be in Austin at the South by Southwest Conference and the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting. He’ll host a panel with the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, and the Portland, Oregon, mayor, Ted Wheeler, about the “increasing prominence and importance” of mayors.

De Blasio will also meet with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and attend a strategy session on immigration reform and the 2020 census.

In Washington, de Blasio will discuss federal infrastructure spending and give the keynote address at a breakfast for Democratic municipal officials.

Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University, said that it has been apparent that the mayor’s “gaze has been national for quite some time.”

She allowed that de Blasio, as the mayor of the largest city in the country, would be expected to travel occasionally to meet and strategize with other leaders, but noted there were local issues that needed attention, like the subway-funding mess.

“You can’t pay less attention to things you are in control of to focus on national policy,” Greer said.

De Blasio will fly coach and take three aides and a security detail on the trip, which will cost taxpayers approximately $8,000, Goldstein said.