The bishop at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first major controversy canceled a planned press conferences this morning in Harlem.
Bishop Orlando Findlayter, a de Blasio campaign ally who was spared a night in jail after the new mayor placed a call to police, announced his intentions yesterday to hold a press conference at 9 a.m. this morning at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, but failed to show up. (The mayor and police have said the decision to release the bishop was made before word of the mayor’s call had reached the precinct where he was being held.)
Mr. Sharpton, who has become one of Mr. de Blasio’s most vocal supporters, nonetheless addressed the controversy, urging the many reporters present for his weekly rally to move on.
“I know that some of the media is all into this with Bishop Findlayter,” he began, pointing to comments that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani–a long-time political rival–made to The New York Times defending Mr. de Blasio’s decision.
“Rudy Guiliani said it ain’t no big deal. And if Rudy and Al Sharpton agree on something, allow me to go on to the next thing,” he said, drawing a standing ovation and hoots and hollers from the sparse gathered crowd.
“If y’all want to know what I have got to say about that, that’s what I have to say: If Rudy and I can agree on something, y’all should go onto the next story, ’cause it aint no big thing,” he continued, advising reporters to “find out how many times city officials call to inquire on legitimate community needs … and go onto the next story.”
“Y’all getting crazy with it now, come on,” he added.
Earlier this week, Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Findlayter attended a breakfast in Brooklyn at the Bethany Baptist Church, where Mr. de Blasio urged clergymembers to join his fight to convince Albany lawmakers to allow the city to raise taxes on the city’s richest residents to fund universal pre-K.
Mr. Shaprton said that he’d been asked about the Findlayter scandal during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. and had no interest in questions on the topic.
“I want to answer about pre-K,” he said, insisted to the press. “I am not going to let you derail the story for some mess you want to deal with. The story is that young kids need pre-K education. And that’s why 200 members met at Bethany on last Tuesday morning. Y’all got that right?”
Mr. de Blasio has defended his actions, saying the call to inquire about the bishop’s status was perfectly “appropriate.”