It’s the day of his first budget announcement, but much of the spotlight today will instead be focused on Bill de Blasio’s controversial decision to reach out to the NYPD following a friend’s arrest.
The city’s new mayor suddenly finds himself under fire from multiple corners following yesterday’s Wall Street Journal report revealing he personally made a call to inquire about Bishop Orlando Findlayter after the pastor was arrested Monday for outstanding warrants. A local police official subsequently–and suspiciously, some say–released Mr. Findlayter.
The mayor’s office insists Mr. de Blasio did not ask for Mr. Findlayter to be released–and reports suggest the decision had already been made by the time his inquiry made it to the precinct–but that did little to stop critics from accusing City Hall of favoritism.
New York’s two tabloids provided the most direct blows, mocking Mr. de Blasio’s own “Tale of Two Cities” campaign message. The New York Post‘s cover blared “JAIL OF TWO CITIES” while the Daily News went with, “BAIL OF TWO CITIES.”
“Mayor de Blasio had no business personally calling the NYPD to inquire about the arrest of a clergyman who was a campaign supporter. All New Yorkers caught up in the criminal justice system should be so lucky,” opined the News.
“For all his preaching about inequality, it turns out that, in de Blasio’s New York, friends of Bill are more equal than others,” declared the Post.
Police critics also piled on.
Jose LaSalle, a police reform advocate with the organization “Stop Stop and Frisk,” who has clashed with police in the precinct where Mr. Findlayter was arrested in the past, said he was enraged by the mayor’s intervention.
“I am disgusted with how Bishop Orlando Findlayter was release from the precinct with warrants hanging over his head just because De Blasio and the 67th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr was friends with him,” Mr. LaSalle wrote on his Facebook page. “This is a slap in the face to all the voters and the East Flatbush community.”
“For me that shows what kind of system we’re dealing with where if you are part of the system or part of the police department or part of the transitional team that the law doesn’t apply to you like it does the rest of the civilians,” he added in an interview yesterday evening. “It’s unfair for the civilians and it’s unfair for the voters. So I’m very frustrated and disgusted … It makes us feel that it’s us against them.”
Josmar Trujillo, an organizer with “New York Against Bratton” also told Politicker he was disappointed that the mayor’s supporter received seemingly preferential treatment.
“The irony is very deep,” said Mr. Trujillo, who is opposed to the kind of broken windows, quality-of-life policing spearheaded by the new police commissioner, Bill Bratton, which he suggested was behind the pastor being pulled over in the first place. ”New Yorkers, who don’t have connections, … who live in communities of low income and low access and don’t have access to legal–much less political–help, they do much worse.”
Republicans sunk their teeth into Mr. de Blasio as well.
Ed Cox, the state GOP chair, released a statement hammering Mr. de Blasio for alleged hypocrisy. “Now we know what Bill de Blasio meant when he said ‘a tale of two cities:’ one set of rules for Bill de Blasio and his friends, one set of rules for everyone else,” said Mr. Cox. “Under New York’s new Mayor, some New Yorkers are more equal than others.”
And Joe Lhota, who ran against Mr. de Blasio for mayor last year, critiqued a media report that characterized Mr. de Blasio’s phone call as “involvement.”
“It’s not proper to call it ‘involvement,’” Mr. Lhota wrote on Twitter. “The correct word is ‘interference.’”