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The Wrong Fight

September 26, 2021 pm30 10:30 pm

People should get vaccinated.

Writing that is easy. Making it happen may not be.

Bill de Blasio is attempting to create a crisis in schools, starting this week. That is how he plans to get people vaccinated.

de Blasio’s plan is counterproductive. Dangerous. He has decided that by provoking mayhem he can force unvaccinated people to vaccinate, or perhaps, that he can get support for more draconian measures.


Everyone who works in a school must have at least the first shot by _________ or be removed from payroll for a year. That blank was this Monday, tomorrow, until an injunction. Now it might still be this coming week, but later. Or not.

Why is de Blasio dumb?

I can’t answer that

What’s wrong with de Blasio’s plan?

The unvaccinated minority is large. It will not be bullied into compliance, not likely. Some of it still thinks Trump won the election. And de Blasio is behaving like a bully – a cowardly bully. When his bluster fails, if it gets that far, a huge number of school workers – principals, teachers, but even higher numbers of paras, secretaries, school aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc, will not be there. There are not enough subs, not enough trained workers, to keep schools functioning. It is a predictable crisis. But it will be a full on crisis.

Who are the unvaccinated?

Sizable chunks of the Black community, of some Spanish-speaking communities. But also a lot of white Trump voters, especially in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

So am I saying that they should not have to vaccinate?

No. They should vaccinate. All the unvaccinated, unless there is a medical contraindication.

Months ago, someone who was slow to vaccinate, perhaps they were being cautious. In communities that have been poorly served or mistreated by this country’s medical establishment, a level of distrust is more than understandable. But literally millions have been safely vaccinated. There’s more than enough evidence. And for those not vaccinating because Trump really won the election? I’ve got no sympathy for people who choose to do and say stupid things. Hate Hillary, hate Joe, just get the damn shot.

There should be positive campaigns to convince people to vaccinate (ok, those exist, there should be more). There should be ways to exert pressure. No gym access without a vaccine? That got thousands of NYers to get the shot. There should be more pressure. There should be more efforts to get prominent spokespeople who are trusted among low-compliance groups to speak out.

But fire tens of thousands? Little Bill, they are ready to call your bluff.

Which I wouldn’t necessarily care about, but the size of the crisis you are going to generate is schools will be monumental.

Is it all de Blasio’s fault?

I don’t really want to answer that. Not honestly. Because I want to blame de Blasio. It’s in large part his fault.

He waited until way way late to set the mandate. Set it July 4 for Labor Day, and let people argue themselves out of breath all summer. But he set it on August 23.

Did I call him a bully already? I did. And a coward. Where is the mandate for cops? There’s the coward. He came after a union that is majority women. He’s afraid of the cops. Most bullies are cowards, and there’s nothing special about ours.

Did I say he set it way too late? Did I mention not giving principals time to plan for what to do on the showdown day? That too.

And pulling people off payroll? That’s the wrong inducement. It corners people, gives them no way out, sets them up as martyrs for refusing, which is what some of them want. It creates a fight. The wrong fight.

Not all

Look, should it be up to each town, each county, each city, each state? That’s ridiculous. In any modern country this would be a joke.

But there is only loose direction from the federal government.

The continued existence of semi-autonomous states, based on long-forgotten shared histories, based in turn on the origin of the first group of European residents… And semi-autonomous counties and towns and boroughs and municipalities. With authority vested in a local strong man or a local bully. I could be describing the US or Afghanistan, but either would be better served with a modern form of government.

And in this backwards system of federal, state and local governments, we have a scarecrow bully. Bad luck for us. But is it really being handled better in Peoria? or any big or middle-sized city in the US? Blame de Blasio all you want, and you should want to, a lot, but this is a national issue, and where’s that leadership? Right.

And Mulgrew?

I don’t know. He’s pro-vaccine, right? But I haven’t heard him yell at people for not getting vaccinated. They’re supposedly his people, right? The Staten Islanders? Then he’s arguing for religious exemptions, which most people don’t buy. His latest email is entitled “temporary delay in implementation of the mandate” as if the mandate is a done deal, and we accept it. Even at the town hall, it sounded like he was talking both ways.

Say something clear, and stick to it. That would be better.


Everyone eligible should get vaxed (absent medical reason not to).

People may have had reasons to be reluctant – but those reasons have evaporated – now they are being stubborn – or worse.

People should be convinced to vaccinate. There should be incentives. Both positive and negative. In the end, some people may need to be compelled to acquiesce.

Taking thousands, including thousands of low-paid workers off payroll to make a point is a bad way to do this. It will fail. It will create a crisis, and a backlash, and create a mess in schools.


If de Blasio does not blink… and that is a big if. The big oaf blinks, a lot. But if he does not blink, we will have a problem.

Let this drag on another week or two, and there may be a rush among workers who cannot afford to lose a check to vaccinate.

But there is a core, a very large core, that will hold out. D-Day comes, no matter if it is Wednesday, or Friday, or in two weeks, and there will be schools missing large numbers of teachers, especially in Queens and Staten Island. There will be huge shortages of School Safety Agents in many schools. There will be missing cafeteria workers. There will be critical shortages of bus drivers.

Schools will make do. That’s what we do. But with broken routines, the last vestiges of social distancing will slip away. Discipline (not in the rowdy sense, but in the regularity sense) will break. Groups that should be separate will mix. And COVID will spread.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. David Vota permalink
    September 27, 2021 am30 6:26 am 6:26 am

    Excellent article. He likes to says things such as, “take the shot or lose your job”, when he has nothing to say. We knew they’d eventually collapse and hold up the “by Monday at 5pm” nonsense. I check yes everyday but I do not agree with the way he went about it. Tell people what to do and many times, they’ll do the opposite. We will see what happens. Also and by the way, where are the four days they owe use from two years ago when the pandemic began. I haven’t forgotten about that. That governor is gone and this Mayor will be gone shortly and the new people had NOTHING to do with making us work on our days off back then. I am beginning to forget what and why they owe us. This is probably what they want to happen.

  2. September 27, 2021 am30 7:22 am 7:22 am

    I will say de Blasio couldn’t get a mandate until the vaccine was fully approved by the FDA which came the same day he announced the mandate. So timing wise he couldn’t have done it earlier. But still…

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