It’s Good to Be the Mayor

I get the fact that running New York city comes with certain privileges, and I understand that Bill de Blasio wields a great deal more power than he used to as the public advocate for the city. But unless I was grossly misinformed, or missed some kind of memo, I believe my understanding that there are supposed to be some limits to that power is at the very least, largely correct.

So I guess that is why I am more than a little disturbed when I read stories like this one. Oh, I suppose that it is nice and charming in its own way that the new mayor is sticking by old friends by working to get them out of prison after arrests, but as the New York Times story points out, one does wonder why Mayor de Blasio does not extend the same generosity of spirit to other who may not have an in with the new crowd at Gracie Mansion. And one also wonders about the new mayor’s sense of priorities:

The mayor is facing questions about favoritism and undue influence after it emerged this week that he called a high-ranking police official to inquire about the arrest of a Brooklyn bishop, a key political supporter.

Both the police and City Hall said the mayor did not request any special treatment for the pastor, Bishop Orlando Findlayter of New Hope Christian Fellowship, who was arrested on Monday evening for a traffic violation and was facing a night in custody because of two outstanding warrants for failing to answer minor charges. A local precinct commander chose to release the bishop before learning of the mayor’s inquiry, according to city officials.

But Mr. de Blasio’s midnight telephone call, which officials said he made after mayoral aides did not respond to his messages about the incident, drew questions about the mayor’s judgment in his new job, even as allies said his actions were in keeping with his history as a grass-roots organizer and activist politician.

“The rule is, the mayor shouldn’t be involved in any way about somebody’s arrest,” the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, told reporters on Wednesday, describing Mr. de Blasio’s actions as “problematic.”

“When you do make that call,” Mr. Stringer added, “you do have to answer a lot of questions.”

Mr. de Blasio declined to speak about the episode on Wednesday, and said he would address it later in the week. A spokesman on Wednesday had no reply when asked whether the mayor would take the same action in the future.

I guess that it must be more than a little difficult to be a police officer in New York city nowadays, what with the mayor looking over your shoulder all the time to make sure that you didn’t arrest one of his friends. Similarly, I guess that it must be more than a little difficult to be involved in causes that usually do–and should–get the mayor’s attention, but may not get his attention as much nowadays because the mayor is too busy playing favorites amongst those who somehow run afoul of the law. And finally, I guess it must be difficult if one is part of the arrested population in New York city, but is not one of the mayor’s favorites.