Last week’s New Yorker magazine featured an article about Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm getting into an altercation at a club back when Grimm, then an FBI agent, took his gun out and ordered all the white people there to leave.
Later, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called on Grimm to urge the NYPD and the Department of Justice to “release all records surrounding this incident in order to provide a full accounting to the public.”
This move by de Blasio didn’t sit well with Staten Island G.O.P. Councilman Jimmy Oddo, who took to the floor of the City Council to denounce de Blasio for what he called “a cheap political shot.”
“Bill is a smart guy, he is a politically astute guy,” Oddo said when reached by phone last week. “We have a great personal relationship. He is better than this.”
Oddo served with de Blasio for eight years in the City Council, and he said that even though he is a Republican, he backed de Blasio in the Democratic primary for public advocate.
But he said that de Blasio weighing in on a decade-old issue reprinted in a magazine will lead many, including him, to wonder if maybe the office of Public Advocate should be eliminated after all, as many editorial boards have urged.
“I just don’t understand why Bill would use his office to enter that issue. It’s certainly not what the office is designed for,” Oddo said. “This is not what taxpayers envisioned their tax dollars going to the public advocate for. This has nothing to do with the public advocate position. If you want to be sheriff for elected officials, aren’t you coming to the dance a little late?”
Oddo compared de Blasio’s asking for records to those who demanded that President Obama release his birth certificate, and said that New Yorkers would view the move through a political lens.
“Anybody who has been around politics would infer from this that this is strictly a political move,” he said. “If you want to beat him, beat him at the voting booth next November.”
We have reached out to de Blasio’s office for a response, and will update when we receive one.
De Blasio spokesman Matt Wing passed along the following:
“Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has always believed that all elected officials need to live by example when it comes to transparency and accountability in government. That’s the standard to which he has held colleagues on both sides of the aisle, no matter what office they hold. While they may disagree on this issue, Bill has great respect for Councilmember Oddo and considers him a good friend.”