After the city’s largest police union told him he wasn’t welcome at funerals, Mayor de Blasio sought absolution from Albany and the Catholic church, emails released Thursday show.
The emails — just some of the thousands released by the administration — show City Hall scrambling to deal with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association putting out a form that would let its members declare de Blasio was unwelcome at their funerals in response to his comments about policing in the wake of Eric Garner’s death.
Just days later — as the administration was planning pro-police events — two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were shot to death by a deranged assassin.
The emails offer a rare glimpse inside City Hall during some of the darkest days of de Blasio’s administration.
In an e-mail titled “Disgusted” on Dec. 13 — before the officers were killed — de Blasio railed against the PBA for saying he was unwelcome at cop funerals, and arguing his staff just wasn’t getting how to respond.
“Guys, you are as good as it gets in this work. But you are also not me, and therefore not relating fully to my thoughts and feeling,” de Blasio wrote. “This PBA attack is appalling and beyond anything I’ve ever seen. And the team has taken a workmanlike approach to it, which I understand and appreciate. But imagine what it feels like to be the guy told to stay away from their funerals.”
He went on to say the problem had to be addressed — and that his wife, Chirlane McCray, had suggested involving Timothy Cardinal Dolan. Dolan did indeed try to play peacemaker — writing an op-ed in the Daily News that the attacks on the mayor were as unfair as some protesters’ attacks on police.
Dolan wasn’t the only person de Blasio sought a little help from: He also called Gov. Cuomo and asked him to call on PBA head Patrick Lynch to apologize.
“Cuomo’s response is either classic Cuomo or actually might be helpful: he asked if I wanted him to condemn PBA’s action or get Lynch to apologize. My answer, from the gut, was that the latter was better for moving this troubled dynamic in our city forward,” de Blasio wrote after he spoke with the governor.
“He said he would try. He suggested a breakfast mtg with him and lynch after which lynch apologizes. I told him I was open to it, but doubted lynch would move.”
Ultimately, de Blasio followed up to say he wasn’t open to meeting with Lynch but that he needed Cuomo to condemn him. But when the governor was asked about Lynch’s actions in an interview, he didn’t call on him to apologize — instead saying Lynch was just venting emotion.
Hizzoner was not happy.
“And from now on: the answer to any and all requests from the Cuomo Administration is NO. The default position is NO. Then we will decide if and when there should be any yesses,” he wrote.
Several members of de Blasio’s inner circle went on to strategize about how to repair relationships with police — including using then-Commissioner Bill Bratton as a strong surrogate, speaking directly to cops, and holding upbeat policing events about new technology like Shot Spotter.
They also planned to roll out their message to cops at a Police Athletic League luncheon — but just a day before, on Dec. 20, Liu and Ramos were murdered, making the lunch a far more somber occasion.
Four days later, on Christmas Eve, outside consultant John Del Cecato suggested de Blasio head to a soup kitchen, perhaps in Liu’s neighborhood. But aide Elana Leopold said it seemed like he would “stay dark until the funeral on Saturday.”
“Having spent every waking hour with the mayor for the last couple days — I think we should do everything we can to preserve any down time we possibly can between now and the funeral,” she wrote.
De Blasio’s team, meanwhile, continued to workshop his response to the catastrophe. First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris passed on suggestions from Bratton — who was adamant the mayor not “engage in anything that appears personal or reflects a Mayor who is hurt or angry.”
Meanwhile, word of a work slowdown among officers was bubbling up in the press — something Shorris said Bratton wanted to wait a few days on, to “see if summons activity returns to normal.”
Aides also prepared a list of “One-Liners” on the topic of some cops turning their backs on de Blasio at funerals, including:
- “If people want to use a solemn occasion like a funeral to make a political statement, that’s on them, you need to ask them why they chose to do it.”
- “Some cops may have turned their backs on me, but I will never turn my backs on the cops nor the people they serve. Anyone else who tells you otherwise isn’t being honest.”
But Shorris took umbrage with one proposed line in which de Blasio was to say, “No I do not have blood on my hands.”
“It is a disgusting statement and he should not dignify it by repeating it (gives it more credence, like “I am not a crook.”),” Shorris wrote.