City Hall Pushed Pols to Attack PBA as Mayor Coaxed Unions To Meet: Sources

By Murray Weiss | December 30, 2014 4:57pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called the shooting an "assassination."
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called the shooting an "assassination."
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

NEW YORK CITY — While Mayor Bill de Blasio was personally coaxing the city’s police union presidents to meet with him, his top aides were on the phones with lawmakers urging them to blast PBA President Patrick Lynch and other officers for turning their backs on the mayor following the assassinations of two of New York’s Finest, DNAinfo New York has learned.

As late as Monday afternoon — the same time de Blasio was speaking with police union leaders to set up Tuesday's détente to possibly mend their fractured relationship — the mayor’s government affairs honchos were privately cold-calling the city’s Democratic delegation of city and state elected officials, asking them to publicly criticize Lynch and those officers who dissed the mayor.

“City Hall wanted me to blast the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for turning their backs on him,” a Big Apple legislator told “On The Inside.” “They called up Monday, said they were calling all of us, and that it was our obligation to stand up defending the mayor."

There was an expectation from City Hall that "because they were calling that we should do whatever they ask," the lawmaker said.

Another lawmaker, who also received a call from a top City Hall official, said he did not feel pressured to speak out, but thought it was "really inappropriate" to be asked even though he did not agree with the police protests.

"I think the mayor should not find himself in that position, particularly on an issue that is so sensitive, asking elected officials to chime in on something like this," he said. "It is not really appropriate and I felt badly that they had to do it."

He was already leaning toward making a public statement, but declined to say whether he actually did.

A City Hall spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The heads of the city's police unions were not immediately available as well.

Immediately following the murder of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on Dec. 20, Lynch and other officers at Woodhull Hospital turned their backs on de Blasio when he showed up to meet with the slain officers' families and host a press briefing on the incident.

A large contingent of police officers also turned their backs Saturday during Ramos's funeral when an outdoor Jumbotron broadcast de Blasio's eulogy.

Police union bosses believe the mayor has long held anti-police positions, and that they, coupled with his kid-glove treatment of recent protesters, have contributed to an incendiary climate that led to the police executions.

The two lawmakers said most of their colleagues who they spoke to felt like they were not going to take the bait from de Blasio's team.

“The mayor’s people said that this had nothing to do with politics, so I said, 'then what is the purpose of this call?’” one of the lawmakers added.

Sources say that over the weekend City Hall officials desperately tried to find out if a large scale protest was planned for Monday’s police graduation at Madison Square Garden. No such demonstration took place, and the mayor was only jeered briefly during his speech and a smattering of people turned their backs during his address to the new officers.

None of the cadets turned their backs on the mayor.

On Sunday, de Blasio telephoned the police union leaders to broker Tuesday's summit. The leaders were skeptical of what they feared were political motives behind the meeting, but said they would attend, but only if all five agreed to be there, sources said.

Then on Monday, Lynch and Ed Mullins, the head of the sergeants union, who are they mayor's harshest critics, signed on for the meeting. Police Commissioner William Bratton was also scheduled to attend.

UPDATE: Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary Phil Walzak emailed a response to DNAinfo after this story was published.

Walzak confirmed that de Blasio aides cold called city Democrats but insisted they "did not ask elected officials to 'attack' anyone," and only requested the politicians "support the families" of the slain NYPD officers.

Asked about Walzak's claim, one of the lawmakers who received a call said it was "preposterous" and "not reality."