One Police Plaza

He Can’t Stay Away

January 19, 2015

Mayor de Blasio can’t seem to stay away from the Rev. Al Sharpton.

According to the mayor’s public schedule under the heading: “Guidance for Monday, January 19th, 2015”: “Monday afternoon, the mayor will deliver remarks at the National Action Network Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Policy Forum in Manhattan.”

The National Action Network is, of course, Sharpton’s organization.

So why does the mayor continue to support the most polarizing figure in the city, if not the country?

Why, despite his troubles with the NYPD — whose antipathy towards Sharpton as a cop-hater has been institutionalized in the police culture — does the mayor continue to attend his events?

On the other hand, what’s so intrinsically bad about attending an event at Sharpton’s joint?

De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, did it — and was praised for it. His predecessor Rudy Giuliani refused to — and was criticized for that.

Other than the NY Post, did anyone criticize President Obama and his wife Michelle after a White House representative read their congratulatory letter to Sharpton at his 60th birthday bash at the Four Seasons last fall?

Did anyone criticize Hillary Clinton after Sharpton announced in a press release that she, too, had called him with congratulations?

And what about Gov. Andrew Cuomo? He not only attended the party but said that the Rev “still has that sense of outrage at injustice. He’s no longer New York City’s Sharpton, he’s the nation’s Sharpton.”

The mayor also attended. He said: “The more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him.”

For that, many, including NYPD Confidential criticized him.

That party, we might add, was where a top female aide to the Rev at the National Action Network went off to spend the night with Sharpton’s longtime lawyer Sanford Rubenstein and later claimed he’d raped her.

After initially saying he didn’t know who to believe, the Rev dropped Rubenstein. The Manhattan District Attorney said there was not enough evidence to indict.

O.K., so if every other pol makes nice to the Rev, why are we making a big deal of de Blasio’s attendance at Sharpton’s Martin Luther King’s anniversary tribute?

Well, it’s because, as all New Yorkers know, the mayor’s visit comes amid his attempts to make up with the police following the assassinations of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Because of his words and actions, many in the department hold the mayor indirectly responsible.

As per Sharpton, this includes the mayor’s inviting the Rev to City Hall after the Eric Garner “chokehold” death last summer and granting him equal billing with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

It also includes the mayor’s shrugging off the anti-police postings of the son and boyfriend of Sharpton’s former spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger, who became the $170,000 chief of staff to the mayor’s wife. Or, as the mayor put it when reporters questioned him, “Case closed.”

Finally, there was the mayor’s terming Sharpton “the nation’s greatest civil rights leader” and his birthday party remark that the more people who knocked him, the more the mayor wanted to befriend him.

Meanwhile, de Blasio has refused to amend or explain or apologize for any of this. As he put it: “You can’t apologize for your fundamental beliefs.”

Things have reached such a sorry state that Bratton, apparently protecting his flank with the rank and file, has criticized de Blasio’s past actions and rhetoric on national television.

Meanwhile, too, PBA President Pat Lynch — who said the mayor had “blood on his hands” for the twin assassinations and who, a recent poll showed, was even more unpopular than Sharpton — now says that relations with City Hall have improved.

This may or may not be true. Whether it is or not, the mayor may soon have to deal with Cuomo, who is making noises about intervening as a mediator between the mayor and the cops. How and what he’s going to mediate is unclear.

What is clear is that the governor is doing the mayor no favors. Just as the mayor’s invitation to Sharpton at City Hall following Garner’s death placed him symbolically as the equal of Bratton, Cuomo’s mediating between the mayor and the cops also has symbolism. It’s that the mayor needs help because he can’t do his job.


Copyright © 2015 Leonard Levitt