Friday, April 10, 2009

Mayor Trusts Young Deputy to Run City, or Chase a Thief

Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, a lanky 35-year-old former Ivy League fencer and “Star Wars” buff, once tackled a mugger who was trying to steal a cellphone in Midtown.

Driving through the South Bronx last summer, Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler spotted a man illegally washing car windshields at a stoplight.

Enraged, he called the police desk at City Hall from his cellphone (it’s on speed dial), ordered that the man be arrested on the spot and requested a copy of his rap sheet, which, as it happened, was voluminous. It listed 50 prior arrests.

Thus began a classic Skyler crusade: Over the next few months, he had two more squeegee men arrested by speed dial. He instructed aides to study their lengthy journeys through the legal system. And he helped draft a law cracking down on repeat offenders, which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled in his State of the City address this year.

“Ed is literally Batman,” said Kevin Sheekey, a fellow deputy mayor. “But most of Gotham doesn’t know how much he does as Bruce Wayne because he’s so purposefully inconspicuous.”

Mitchell Moss, a Bloomberg adviser who teaches urban policy at New York University, called Mr. Skyler “the managerial guru of the city.”

“He can be very hard-nosed with elected officials,” said John J. Doherty, the commissioner of sanitation. “If you get in his way, there is a hell of a steamroller headed down the road.”

His persistence at times can border on nagging, as he sends e-mail messages at all hours complaining about overflowing garbage bins, unfilled potholes and unplowed streets.

Well, that I go for; there are plenty of times I wish I had that power. Or knew whom to call to get some things done.

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