De Blasio defends pre-K program after Adams calls it ‘pet project’

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Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back after Eric Adams labeled universal pre-Kindergarten a “pet project” — declaring that the program is one of several “profound” accomplishments from his time in City Hall.

The congressional contender was asked on WABI’s “City Watch” about Adams’ comments to The Post ripping ex-mayors for focusing on a single “pet project,” ticking off a list that included “pre-K” in an obvious dig at his immediate predecessor.

De Blasio, who often touts the initiative as a centerpiece of his tenure, claimed he wasn’t familiar with the mayor’s remarks before rattling off several accomplishments in his “very progressive agenda.”

“Well, I didn’t hear anything specific, but I’ll tell you, it’s pre-K and 3k. And in September, 3k is going to be universal and free for every student in New York City in perpetuity,” he told host David Brand, a reporter at City Limits, in an interview aired Sunday.

“Look, I presented a very progressive agenda in 2013,” the former mayor continued. “I said we’re gonna do transformative things to help working people and to fight income inequality.

“We added two additional grades to public education for free. I don’t know what’s more profound than that, so I’ll talk about it all day long.”

NYC Mayor Eric Adams visits Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Mayor Eric Adams said de Blasio focused on universal Pre-K as a “pet project.”
Robert Miller

De Blasio listed offering municipal ID cards for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status; appointing members to the Rent Guidelines Board who enacted tenant-friendly increases; AOC-branded eco-friendly measures; and his street safety program aimed at reducing road deaths as his other achievements during his eight years in office.

“There’s lots of other things, though. I’m proud of the Green New Deal work we did. I’m proud of ID NYC, I’m proud of Vision Zero. I’m proud of a lot of things,” he said.

In a recent exclusive interview with The Post conducted as the mayor rode the subway overnight, Adams said his priority is to “fix this mess,” rather than seeing through handful or policy proposals to establish a “legacy,” a strategy he lamented previous occupants of Gracie Mansion employed.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) visit and read books to a Pre-K class inside P.S. 123 Suydam located at 100 Irving Avenue on April 6, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The clear shot at the mayor-turned House hopeful came after de Blasio — who has often touted his close relationship with, and support for, his successor — slightly changed his tune after announcing his bid for the open seat in May.

In mid-June, de Blasio joined protesters at a Brooklyn school who opposed City Hall’s decision to shrink public school budgets by $215 million.

De Blasio told HuffPost in a Q&A published June 23 that he “would like to see” Adams focus on “progressive ideas that were his roots.”

“Right now, we have very little to go on, but I think he’s got to speak more to that,” he told reporter Daniel Marans. “I want to hear him express that progressive vision, that pro-worker vision.”

Adams isn’t the only Democratic executive de Blasio has gently critiqued of late.

During the radio appearance, de Blasio pointed to what he feels is missing from President Biden’s proposals, as he pledged to help form a sweeping “urban agenda” if elected to represent parts of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan in Congress.

“But you know what’s interesting is [in] New York City, at least we had an agenda for fundamental change,” he said, pivoting away from the Adams-related question. “The country doesn’t. There’s no agenda in Washington particularly related to cities. There is literally not an urban agenda.”

“Our national government, even the Biden administration, doesn’t have an urban agenda, de Blasio said in the interview, which was conducted Wednesday.

“One of the things I want to fight for is a thoroughgoing agenda that is about affordable housing, access to health care, profound changes we have to make in the way we get around, and how we protect climate, all of which are needed if our cities are going to be sustainable” the former mayor went on. “I want to be that voice in Washington.”