One Police Plaza

Mayor De Blasio: Going Macro

January 30, 2017

His approval ratings are low. A Quinnipiac poll in November found that nearly half of New Yorkers don’t believe he deserves re-election.

His policies on the growing homeless problem are in a shambles.

He refuses to address what a recent report by the city’s Department of Investigation has called “systemic” problems with the Administration for Children Services, which has failed to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable children.

His 2013 campaign fund-raising is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office. Last week, he was questioned for nearly two hours by Manhattan prosecutors.

Despite the city’s low crime rate, he has made the NYPD less transparent than ever by his tortured support for a state law that he claims prohibits the department from releasing cops’ disciplinary records, even those cases that involve the deaths of civilians.

Yet he has an ally, an important one, who is certain to improve his approval ratings, someone whose actions Mayor Bill de Blasio knows how to exploit: President Donald Trump.

In short, the more Trump is Trump, the more he helps de Blasio.

“He likes to go macro,” says longtime ex-city councilman and possible mayoral rival Sal Albanese of the mayor. “It distracts people from his own poor record.”

When last week Trump declared war on so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to help authorities apprehend undocumented immigrants, de Blasio thundered, “We are going to defend all of our people regardless of where they come from and regardless of their documentation status.”

After Trump announced his executive order on immigration, which bans all Syrian refugees and blocks Muslims from war-torn countries for 90 days, de Blasio released the following statement:

“As an American and the grandson of immigrants, I am profoundly saddened by the President’s Executive Order on immigration issued today. The United States has been a beacon of hope to the world. We are a country founded on the belief of religious pluralism and equality. Today the President sent a shamefully different message. … In this great city of immigrants we will remain true to our values and always welcome all who yearn to breathe free.”

After a federal judge stayed Trump’s executive order, de Blasio repeated his sentiments on CNN and altered his press schedule to deliver remarks at a rally to end the refugee and Muslim ban.

As insufferable as de Blasio may appear, as poorly as he has managed the city, how can any New Yorker not applaud those words?

OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA [CON’T]. Now let's return to the Puerto Rican terrorist whose group set off more than 100 bombs across the country, killing civilians and permanently wounding two NYPD cops in a blast at 1 Police Plaza. Before leaving office, President Barack Obama commuted Lopez Rivera’s 55-year sentence, despite his refusal to renounce violence. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Joe Conor, whose father was killed by the group’s bomb at Fraunces Tavern, noted that at Lopez Rivera’s parole hearing in 2011, he offered “not a shred of remorse or contrition.”

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio tweeted: “Thank you POTUS for freeing Oscar Rivera Lopez. Congratulations for all who fought for this day.”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito echoed the mayor, saying she “cried with joy” upon hearing of the commutation.

NYPD Confidential and a number of readers tried to understand the mayor’s and the speaker’s thinking. Reader Chris Covington emailed: “I am not Puerto Rican, but I would imagine that they look at Mr. Rivera the same way Israelis look at the members of the Irgun who exploded the bomb in the King David Hotel, during the Israeli struggle for independence. I'm sure the British didn't think too kindly of those freedom fighters, but they managed to suck it up, even when one member of the Irgun became Israeli Prime Minister. Just because the 'independencias' didn't win, doesn't change how Puerto Ricans look at their 'freedom fighters.' I don't think it is right either, just trying to understand."

NYPD Confidential emailed the mayor’s press office seeking an explanation for de Blasio’s comments on the commutation. His press office did not respond.

NYPD Confidential also emailed Mark-Viverito’s press office asking, “What specifically accounts for the Speaker's devotion/attraction to Rivera? His bombs killed innocent people. He refused to disavow violence.”

Her spokeswoman, Robin Levine, sent the following email: “Hmm need to double check your facts. He was never tried or convicted of a violent crime and he has renounced violence. Happy to send you what Melissa said about this last week where she touched upon this but just wanted to make sure you had the correct context.” 


Copyright © 2017 Leonard Levitt