The mayor took a page out of the governor’s playbook.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, irate after a police union president called on national Democrats to keep the 2016 Democratic National Convention out of Brooklyn, quickly ordered aides to contact elected officials to denounce the union leader’s open letter, sources say.
Once Mr. de Blasio told reporters yesterday afternoon that a letter penned by Edward Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, was “irresponsible” and “fear-mongering,” aides to the mayor harangued local elected officials to prepare statements blasting Mr. Mullins’ letter, which ran in the New York Post and New York Times. The effort was meant to show the public that the city’s political establishment–including elected officials supportive of cops–was firmly in Mr. de Blasio’s corner.
No one familiar with the phone calls was willing to speak on the record with the Observer for fear of reprisal from the mayor’s office. Bringing the DNC to Brooklyn is a top priority for Mr. de Blasio, a liberal Democrat with ties to the national Democratic establishment.
“We got calls from de Blasio’s team begging us to put statements out,” one source said. “There was a sense of urgency.”
The accounts of phone calls from staffers on the mayor’s intergovernmental affairs team, led by top aide Emma Wolfe, were confirmed by two other sources.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilman Vincent Gentile and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain, fired off statements condemning Mr. Mullins in the hours following Mr. de Blasio’s rebuke (Councilman Jumaane Williams issued a lengthy statement this morning.) Councilman Brad Lander, Mr. de Blasio’s successor in the council, tweeted a defense of the mayor. State Senator Michael Gianaris, the chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and State Senator Liz Krueger also offered well-timed statements.
Mr. Adams called Mr. Mullins’ letter–which warned that the city was too dangerous to host a convention because of rising shootings and the mayor’s alleged lack of support for police–“inaccurate” and a “frankly inane spewing of political vitriol.” A spokesman for Ms. Mark-Viverito said the speaker “obviously disagrees with this distinctly negative view of New York.” Mr. Gianaris proclaimed that Mr. de Blasio is “right to believe that New York City would be a great host for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.” Mr. Lander tweeted “fear mongering and divisive rhetoric falls flat. City is safest ever and keeps getting safer. Great moment to showcase NYC.”
The mayor’s move to urge elected officials to create the impression of an organic show of support echoes a tactic often employed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, is well-known for pushing legislators behind-the-scenes to bombard reporters’ inboxes with statements of support for his initiatives. Ironically, this tactic was once used against Mr. de Blasio when the two were sparring over how to fund his prekindergarten expansion.
A spokesman for Mr. de Blasio did not immediately return a request for comment.