On the surface, these are rocky days for Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose infant tenure has endured impasse in Albany, speeding police escorts, and poll numbers that have rapidly diminished.
But in fits and starts, Mr. de Blasio has steadily found ways to impose his uncompromising liberalism onto New York, exploiting the powers of his office to further an agenda that allies say is far more consequential than day-to-day squabbles and scandals.
Stymied by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers on his tax-the-rich plan, Mr. de Blasio used a compliant City Council to enact a bill expanding the ability of workers to take paid days off when they or a family member falls ill. He signed the bill into law on Thursday with the flick of a commemorative pen — no approval from Albany required.
Keenly aware of his leverage over the city’s real estate industry, Mr. de Blasio has extracted concessions on affordable housing and workers’ wages from major developers accustomed to V.I.P. treatment from his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, who preferred hand-holding, not arm-twisting.
And the mayor has moved aggressively to settle longstanding lawsuits over racial inequities in the Fire and Police Departments that Mr. Bloomberg had vigorously fought.
Now, Mr. de Blasio is set to unveil his next unilateral steps: At his order, the city’s legal team will abandon its efforts, begun under Mr. Bloomberg, to block two pieces of legislation that guarantee higher pay for workers on development projects where the city provides large subsidies or is a major tenant.
The city will drop its challenge to one, the so-called living wage law, on Friday. Later, officials said, the administration plans to quit fighting against the “prevailing wage” law — even though the Bloomberg administration had, so far, been successful in blocking it in court.
The very lawyers who once voiced Mr. Bloomberg’s objections to the measures are now arguing in their favor.
“There is a mandate to change policy,” said Zachary W. Carter, the mayor’s corporation counsel, in an interview, adding, “We take our direction from the client.”
That client is now Mr. de Blasio.
In flexing the powers of his office, Mr. de Blasio has displayed a tactical agility and aggressive style that he has struggled at times to project publicly.
Significant positions in his government, like buildings commissioner, remain unfilled, and the mayor’s unforced errors, such as calling police officials about the arrest of a political supporter, have prompted concern about his readiness for the job.
Aides and allies of the mayor insist that New Yorkers, who in a recent poll gave Mr. de Blasio a mediocre approval rating of 45 percent, will ultimately focus on his efforts to raise wages and make the city more affordable.
“If you pull the camera back, the mayor’s wins are adding up,” said Bill Lipton, the state director for the Working Families Party, whose yearslong effort to enact sick-leave legislation culminated in Mr. de Blasio’s signature on Thursday.
“People will see that Bill has delivered on his campaign promise and has actually made a difference in the lives of working people,” Mr. Lipton said.
Still, Mr. de Blasio’s team is painfully aware of its early missteps, particularly the virtually guaranteed defeat in Albany of his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for prekindergarten and after-school classes.
Eager to reframe his administration as fulfilling campaign promises, not fumbling them, the mayor’s team began talks in the past few days with Related, one of the city’s most politically powerful developers, about including more affordable apartments at its giant Hudson Yards project on the Far West Side, which is receiving major tax breaks.
It is highly unusual to renegotiate a development project already approved by the city, and it was virtually unthinkable in the Bloomberg era. But officials at Related, who are embarking on a long-term relationship with the new mayor, agreed to increase the number of affordable units.
Even more strikingly, the developer agreed to give up a long-fought-for exemption from paying higher wages to some building workers at Hudson Yards.
It was a sign that, poor poll numbers aside, Mr. de Blasio is unequivocally the new boss in town — and that the business community is facing a stark reality: Where government money touches something, it comes with liberal strings attached.
The liberal grass roots, meanwhile, had their own symbolic moment on Thursday, when activists joined Mr. de Blasio in South Williamsburg to celebrate his signing of the sick-leave bill.
“We have prevailed at last,” Mr. de Blasio said, a broad smile on his face, as his remarks were frequently drowned out by applause.
When the mayor sat to sign the bill, he picked up the first of several pens and looked out at the crowd watching.