Early Wednesday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported a high-profile pastor and member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inaugural committee with two warrants out for his arrest was released from jail after the mayor made a phone call inquiring about his arrest.
Officers pulled Bishop Orlando Findlayter over at 11:21 p.m. Monday. Findlayter, who was an early supporter of de Blasio’s campaign, had made a left turn without signaling. When a database query revealed Findlayter had failed to appear in court in January after he was arrested in October at a protest, he was taken into custody.
The correct protocol would be for Findlayter to remain in jail until he could appear before a judge, but the bishop was released after the mayor’s office sent multiple emails, and the mayor himself made a personal phone call to Deputy Chief Kim Royster.
The mayor’s office maintains de Blasio did not ask the police to release Findlayter, and the deputy chief confirms that account, but, for us, the events triggered flashbacks to September, when Voice reporter Graham Rayman’s inspection of de Blasio’s City Council papers revealed the then-candidate had a history of intervening on behalf of his friends and constituents.
The Voice found that de Blasio repeatedly wrote letters to the Parking Violations Bureau and the Environmental Control Board during his days on the city council.
“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 in June 2005 on behalf of a constituent ticketed for double parking.
“I hope you will consider the circumstances when reviewing Ms. Glustein’s case and show her leniency,” he wrote on behalf of a second constituent a month earlier.
In January 2006, de Blasio wrote a letter for Bracha Breiger, who received a parking violation from the Department of Transportation. Breiger’s fine was dismissed; she told the Voice, “I think his letter helped.”
In 2011, de Blasio called the Department of Transportation on behalf of Williamsburg residents whose cars, parked in a no-standing zone during Passover, were ticketed and towed.
Those were just a few of the instances Rayman found in the incomplete files archived at LaGuardia Community College — letters from constituents, filed in alphabetical order, only go up to the letter H, and the boxes only contain a few emails, letters, and memos authored by de Blasio himself.
As the Voice reported back in September, large portions of de Blasio’s city council papers were removed from the archive and kept out of public view for over a year while as he prepared to run for mayor. In September, council spokesman Jamie McShane called it “an administrative delay that shouldn’t have happened.”