Mayor Adams’ Roman Holiday

Hizzoner gets a gander at how some foreign cities are outpacing New York when it comes to getting things done.

Mayor Eric Adams via X
Mayor Adams inspecting subway construction at Rome near the Colosseum, May 10, 2024. Mayor Eric Adams via X

Mayor Adams is facing criticism for his visit to the Eternal City, where he’s scheduled to meet with the Pope. “You can’t make this up,” says Mr. Adams’s 2021 rival — and a potential candidate in 2025 — Curtis Sliwa. While New York City is “in crisis” and dealing with “rampant crime,” Mr. Sliwa writes on X, “the Mayor shouldn’t be taking vacations to Rome.” We have great regard for Mr. Sliwa, but Mr. Adams’ trip to Rome could open Hizzoner’s eyes.

Feature, say, Mr. Adams’ first-hand look at how Rome has been able to speedily construct infrastructure projects — “while lamenting,” as the New York Post put it, “that New York City is a place where such things take an eternity.” Mr. Adams was struck by “how fast they are able to do it.” He marveled at how, at Rome, “when it comes down to making these major renovations,” the authorities “are able to build without all the bureaucracy.”

Homina Homina Homina, to quote Jackie Gleason. Such insights, if imported back to New York, could mark an improvement from the city’s track record in completing, say, the Second Avenue subway line, among other critical projects. These columns have long decried the government’s failure to get that job done. We once suggested that private enterprise could achieve better results, only to be asked by Mayor Bloomberg, “What are you smoking?

While Mr. Adams hasn’t yet embraced the logic of privatizing the MTA, he now grasps that Rome is putting New York to shame on, say, the “long-stalled $7.7 billion Second Avenue extension,” as the Post reported. “How many years did it take to build Second Avenue?” Mr. Adams asked. “The technology I saw today,” he reports from Rome, appears to surpass New York’s methods. “It’s far time that we are having that conversation,” he said. 

Of course, the Times was among those carping that for mayors, “questions always arise about the necessity and wisdom of embarking on foreign trips.” The newspaper of record cited the “rigors of running New York City,” along with “personal conflicts such as lagging poll numbers” and “a federal investigation into his campaign fund-raising.” Mr. Adams’ planned audience with the Pope, too, prompted a kind of collective smirk among the press.

The papal visit was a reminder that Mr. Adams “has made his Christian faith a centerpiece of his politics,” the Times observed. Mr. Adams “has said that God told him three decades ago the exact date that he would become mayor,” the Times added, “and that he did not believe in the separation of church and state.” Hizzoner justified the meeting by noting that “His Holiness has a role right now as we all are trying to deal with the global conflicts.”

The mayor appeared to take in stride the scrutiny from the largely secular press corps over his confab with Pontifex Maximus, calling it “a very special moment for me as being a Christian.” In a parley with reporters before his departure he vowed, in a light-hearted tone, “to pray for the entire media that follows me,” placing his hand on one scribe’s head and adding “I’m going to ask him to lift you up in prayer.”

In matters temporal, the mayor at Rome can note, too, how Italy’s premier, Giorgia Meloni, is contending with the migrant influx that, as in New York, has strained resources. Ms. Meloni, too, is trying to spark economic revival in a country that has long been plagued by high taxes and sputtering growth. Our correspondent Rosario Iaconis has hailed her ability to “reach across the cultural and political divides to achieve unexpected breakthroughs.”

It’s hardly a novel insight to note that foreign travel can broaden one’s perspective. So we can hardly begrudge Mr. Adams for making a Roman Holiday, especially if it helps the cause of reforming New York’s dysfunctional bureaucracy — or advances the Mayor’s agenda of placing religious faith at the center of public life. We understand, too, that such civic improvements might not emerge overnight. Rome, after all, wasn’t built in a day.

The New York Sun

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