By Zachary D. Roberts
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell and Laura Shunk
By Albert Samaha
By Amanda Dingyuan
By Anna Merlan
By Anna Merlan
By Albert Samaha
De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan says no one from the candidate's staff in the Public Advocate's office or the campaign was involved in pulling the council records. Levitan adds that the campaign was unaware the records had been removed.
Liu's campaign office did not respond to a request for comment.
The de Blasio papers are notable as much for what isn't in them as for what is.
One glaring example: The files that contain letters from constituents, which are arranged alphabetically, only go up to H.
Curiously, the nine boxes that comprise the former councilman's files include only a handful of communications—e-mails, letters, memos—authored by the man himself.
Still, the documents contain some interesting insights into the man who might be New York's next mayor.
For one thing, de Blasio made repeated attempts on behalf of constituents to get parking tickets and garbage fines reduced or dismissed altogether.
• In June 2005, the councilman sent an e-mail to the Parking Violations Bureau on behalf of Jeff Getz, who'd been ticketed for double parking. "I recognize that double parking is illegal, however, as you know, double parking during street cleaning has long been an accepted practice in New York City," de Blasio wrote.
• A month earlier, in May, de Blasio had made a similar plea for Blima Glustein. "I hope you will consider the circumstances when reviewing Ms. Glustein's case and show her leniency," he wrote.
• Writing on behalf of Imre Friedlander and other residents of 40th Street who had been ticketed by the Department of Sanitation, de Blasio wrote that he was "incredulous" that tickets were issued in the first place. In Friedlander's case, he accused the city employee of "never leaving his car" to write up the violation.
• In January 2006, de Blasio wrote a letter in support of Bracha Breiger, who had been ticketed by the Department of Transportation for a parking violation. Breiger tells the Voice that the fine was dismissed without a hearing. "I think his letter helped," she says.
Separately from the archival files, the Voice obtained the text of two decisions in which judges for the Parking Violations Bureau, ruling in favor of the defendant, cite de Blasio's letters.
Ticket fixing in New York City is nothing new—some might call it a time-honored tradition. On the other hand, in 2011, the Bronx District Attorney's office opened an investigation into the practice, ensnaring dozens of officers in the New York Police Department and going so far as to indict some of them.
When the scandal went public, de Blasio was a vocal critic of the practice. As the city's incumbent public advocate, he called for a fuller investigation and even accused the NYPD of fixing domestic violence cases.
(Then again, in May 2011, de Blasio, in his role as public advocate, complained to NYPD transportation chief James Tuller about Williamsburg residents whose cars were ticketed and towed for parking in a no-standing zone during Passover.)
Two years ago, in a statement issued at the height of the scandal, Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in politicians' criticism of the NYPD for fixing tickets. Throughout his 30-year career, Mullins said, "It has not been the least bit unusual to get calls from . . . elected officials, members of the judiciary, business executives, celebrities, athletes, physicians. These phone calls are as much a culture of the department as arresting criminals."
In light of de Blasio's letters, the Voice reached out to Mullins last week for comment. "There shouldn't be a double standard," the SBA president says now. "If a police officer is being arrested for it, but a councilman is doing this sort of thing, too, it's something that needs to be looked at."
Captains Endowment Association head Roy Richter tells the Voice, "My general thing on this is if on day one you punish a police officer with a warn and admonish, and then on day two indict him, that's unfair. If it's been a long-standing practice, you have to give people fair warning."
Asked to comment about the contents of the de Blasio files and the ticket issue in particular, spokesman Dan Levitan responds that such communiqués are simply part of a councilmember's job: assisting constituents who need help navigating the city's bureaucracy.
Responding to Levitan's "constituent services" description, Mullins says, "Call it what you want. What's the difference? At the end of the day, there's a process that the tickets have to go through. If it works for a public official, why not for a police officer?"
Even though he was the boss, de Blasio apparently saw himself as a constituent, too. He would often call the council office himself and ask his staff to look into things he spotted in his travels around the district.
De Blasio also has a mystical side. He wrote to then–New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein to extol the virtues of transcendental meditation, recommending that the discipline become part of the curriculum in city public schools. "The technique is strictly a mechanical, natural procedure that allows the mind and body to settle down to a deep state of rest," he wrote Klein.
"Even though he was the boss, de Blasio apparently saw himself as a constituent, too. He would often call the council office himself and ask his staff to look into things he spotted in his travels around the district." Really? He drove around his district and asked his staff to look into problems he detected? He had his staff write letters to city bureaucrats to help constituents? An archivist was concerned that letters from constituents might contain private information? What a non-story.
Sounds to me that he is a council member that goes out of his way to represent his constituents. He also has the wherewithall to take on public representatives that do not work to make public housing a priority and others that likely don't take enough interest in their tenants.
So Al D'Amato is a Democrat? ;-)
Actually, no -- DiBlasio was helping the average moke, whereas the mobbed-up D'Amato only cared about helping the rich and/or powerful.