One Police Plaza

The Rev, The Rev, The Rev

August 11, 2014

Overlooked in the controversy surrounding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ill-fated roundtable discussion over Eric Garner’s death is the role of Rachel Noerdlinger, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s former spokeswoman.

De Blasio hired her as wife Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff at an annual salary of $170,000. McCray did not attend the roundtable. But Noerdlinger sat among a group of clergy and politicians de Blasio had gathered to discuss the chokehold death of the 6-foot-3-inch, 350-pound black man as officers tried to arrest Garner in Staten Island last month for selling untaxed cigarettes.

When Sharpton arrived at the roundtable — 20 minutes late — Noerdlinger raced out to greet him and escort him inside. After the event, she appeared in the City Hall rotunda with Sharpton as he held a mini news conference. Police officials declined to discuss the roundtable publicly. Some rolled their eyes.

Police sources said it appeared that Noerdlinger had set up the post-roundtable mini news conference for Sharpton.

“It’s 100 percent erroneous to say I set up a mini news conference for Rev. Sharpton,” Noerdlinger wrote in an email. “I arrived at it as Rev. Sharpton was speaking so that would be a flat out lie. And yes I walked him in if you want to equate that to working for him. I would call it proper etiquette since he was invited to City Hall as a guest of the Mayor.”

Rebecca Katz, a special adviser to the mayor, wrote in an email that Noerdlinger “is a member of the Mayor’s senior cabinet and has two decades of experience with community relations. She was at the roundtable at the mayor’s request.”

Noerdlinger was a crackerjack spokeswoman for Sharpton — not that he needs help in the publicity line. Her skills contrast with many of those who surround de Blasio, none of whom apparently told the mayor of the potential danger in positioning Sharpton directly to his left while Police Commissioner Bill Bratton sat directly to the mayor’s right. Sharpton turned Bratton into a piñata with his criticism, while Bratton and de Blasio remained silent.

The mayor’s plans to hold another roundtable to deepen the relationship between police and the community — hosted by Cardinal Timothy Dolan — appears to be a lame response to the uproar that emanated from the last one.

So who arranged Sharpton’s seating? Noerdlinger, in an email, denied it was she.

Said Katz: “We make decisions collectively and in consensus with senior leadership.” That explanation is a reflection of de Blasio’s problems.

Sharpton, meanwhile, continues his self-promotion, with or without Noerdlinger.

According to CBS-New York, Sharpton “said he feels he made de Blasio mayor” and “claimed he has the right to dictate police policy because he and his supporters ‘won the election.’” Sharpton actually did not endorse a candidate in last year’s mayoral primary.

“I’m the guy that let Bratton come to Harlem, to my headquarters when he was first appointed,” Sharpton also told CBS-New York.

His planned Aug. 23 demonstration in Staten Island, where Garner died, is also infused with self-promotion.

Sharpton says he selected the date to commemorate the death of Yousef Hawkins, a 16-year-old black kid who was shot to death on Aug. 23, 1989. He and three friends were attacked by a white mob in Bensonhurst, one of whom shot Hawkins. Two years later, while preparing to lead a demonstration through Bensonhurst, a white kid stabbed Sharpton.

So is the Aug. 23 demonstration to commemorate Garner and Hawkins, whose death was not police related? Or is it to commemorate Sharpton?

Police sources confirm that the controversial and charismatic Staten Island NYPD Deputy Chief Mike Marino has filed for retirement, police sources say.

Former Chief of Department Joe Esposito has called him “a cop to the marrow of his bones” and “a great leader.”

As executive officer of Brooklyn Patrol Borough North, Marino was one of 27 officers whose names turned up in the records of a Bay Ridge pharmacy that had sold $8 million in steroids and human growth hormones in 2007. He admitted buying a topical steroid cream from the pharmacy but said it was for low testosterone. He volunteered to take a drug test and passed.

In 2009, on Halloween night, he led a police team that rousted Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft from his Queens apartment and took him against his will to Jamaica Hospital, where he was confined to its psychiatric ward for five days. Schoolcraft is suing the city for $50 million over the incident.

Most recently, as deputy chief in Staten Island, he had a patrol car parked outside his home while he and his bride, Sgt. Amanda Palmenta, honeymooned in Florida for five days.

Like many self-respecting chiefs, he has applied for a line-of-duty, tax-free disability pension.


Copyright © 2014 Leonard Levitt