During a recent campaign stop, Bo Dietl seemed in his element on a late-afternoon Staten Island ferry ride, bullhorn in hand and supporters in tow.
Yet the vociferous Dietl, the former New York police detective turned media celebrity, actor, entrepreneur and now mayoral candidate, was just as comfortable earlier that day talking about how he would run the city and its finances more efficiently if elected.
In an interview at his investigations firm on the 50th floor of 1 Pennsylvania Plaza, Dietl, 66, said he favors zero-based budgeting, reduced rates of return on pensions, infrastructure fixes and operational improvements to troubled agencies such as the New York City Housing Authority.
Drawing on his law-enforcement background, he also wants to apply police troubleshooting metric CompStat to other departments.
“I love it. I want to be Mayor CompStat Bo. That’s my new motto,” Dietl said in his cluttered office. “My dear friend Jack Maple, God rest his soul, he is the one who started CompStat. He is the man.
“Now it’s being used around the world, because it’s a simple procedure in that wherever the problem is, you bring in as much as you can and you relieve the problem.
“I want to use CompStat on every issue, whether it be schools, whether it be housing, NYCHA, where the problems are in NYCHA – you got NYCHA that’s falling apart, no capital funding in there -- [and] Rikers Island.”
Dietl, on the ballot as an independent, has an uphill climb in his run against incumbent Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.
An Oct. 5 Quinnipiac University poll had de Blasio taking 61% of likely voters with 17% choosing Republican state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. Reform Party candidate Sal Albanese, whom de Blasio defeated in the Democratic primary, had 8% and Dietl 6%.
According to Quinnipiac, two-thirds of voters don’t know enough about Dietl. He plans to start a television advertising plan soon.
Dietl. meanwhile, continues to harp at de Blasio, whom he calls “Big Bird.”
“He hasn’t done anything and when I debated him the other night I said, ‘boy you talk good.’ ” I said if I was on a potato farm on Long Island with my head in the ground and I popped up, I would vote for you.
“But if you listen deeply to what he’s saying and what he’s not done, you’d say he’s full of crap.”
Dietl, a decorated NYPD detective, wrote the autobiography “One Tough Cop: The Story of Bo Dietl.” A movie evolved from the book. In the film “Goodfellas,” Dietl played the detective who arrested Henry Hill, the mobster with ties to the Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
In recent years Dietl has been a commentator on TV and radio shows. He is also the founder and chief executive of Beau Dietl & Associates and Beau Dietl Consulting Services.
“I’m real. He’s fantasy land,” said Dietl, comparing himself with de Blasio. “I was hospitalized at least 30 times, fractured skull, stabbed, shot at, broken shoulder, all that.”
During de Blasio’s four years, the city’s operating budget rose to $85 billion from $70 billion, up 21%. Dietl said he would apply his entrepreneurial skills at City Hall.
“When you understand financing, and you learn financing, you have to understand you just can’t keep spending,” he said. “I think this $85 billion is so inflated with waste and fat and this is one of the things I want to deal with once I become mayor.
“I like this thing called a zero-based budget. A zero-based budget is something [for] every agency, where we would say look, just because you got the money last year … I also like a two-year budget to get things implemented because once you have it every year, a lot of stuff doesn’t even get implemented and then it’s the new one and they’re adding on, they adding on.
“There’s a reason why this budget is soaring over $85 billion and it ain’t a good reason. One of the reasons is a 14% increase with employees. An employee doesn’t come just as an employee. It comes with a pension punch.
"I was laid off during the 1970s. I know about a fiscal crisis."
The city’s crumbling infrastructure worries him.
“We know we haven’t put too many dollars into the subways in 45 years. NYCHA, we haven’t put too much capital improvement. They got roofs leaking. And then Rikers Island, now all of a sudden [de Blasio’s] deciding on some capital expenditures.
"I would certainly freeze capital spending on new projects. I would fix the stuff we got now."
He said he would try to improve the city's relations with Washington and Albany, and notably with President Trump.
"I voted for him and I even gave him 50 grand, but I don't like he's doing. He's a lying narcissist. But I want to work with Trump. I want to go to Washington and tell him 'we need infrastructure.' New York City should be getting a lot more funding from the federal government."
Unfunded pension liability is another concern. He said a 7% assumed rate of return is too high.
"I worry about these pensions and our bond ratings all the time. We know damn well it's not at 7 percent. That' s a ridiculous number. You ain't getting 7 percent. I'd love to bring that down to 3 [or] 3-and-a-half percent."
He also favors taxes on apartment purchases by foreign property owners and resumption of the commuter tax.
Asked how he would respond to why someone should vote for him, Dietl's response was simple.
“One, I’m not a politician. I’ve spilled my blood. I know every catacomb in this city. I honestly cut through the crap and I get things done."