One Police Plaza

On the Night Before Christmas ...

December 25, 2017

Fresh from his day trip to Iowa, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to stroll down Fifth Avenue on the night before Christmas. Repeating what he’d told potential Iowa voters about his presidential ambitions, he said: “This is what I feel called to do.”

Since the Christmas Eve stroll required a police presence, the mayor sought out Commissioner Jim O’Neill to accompany him. Last Thursday, O’Neill had sat through a tortuous, nearly two-hour City Hall news conference with Mayor de Blasio and his non-elected co-mayor/wife, praising retiring Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina that went on and on and on and on. O’Neill begged off, citing mental fatigue.

The mayor then approached former Chief of Department Carlos Gomez, the department’s highest ranking Hispanic officer, who had resigned unexpectedly, fed up with being cut out of the department’s operational loop, which some consider standard NYPD procedure regarding high-ranking minority officers. Gomez was also miffed at the mayor for having made him attend Hispanic-related events at which de Blasio appeared. If de Blasio thought that inviting him to stroll down Fifth Avenue represented “diversity,” Gomez wanted no part of it.

Next, de Blasio telephoned Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan. Monahan didn’t return his call, which may explain why he has not yet been promoted to Chief of Department. Deputy Commissioner Larry Byrne, whom de Blasio called next, said he was too busy celebrating a recent Court of Appeals decision that he claimed upheld his restrictive interpretation of state Law 50-a. As usual, Byrne told only half the story. The Court’s decision applied solely to police officer Daniel Pantaleo. The Court is to rule on a larger issue — the disclosure of trial room decisions — next year.

In desperation, the mayor turned to former police commissioner Bill Bratton, who never passed up an opportunity to stroll down Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve and get his name into NYPD Confidential. Bratton also hoped he might see the late, great Jack Maple, who usually made an earthly appearance during the holiday season.

It was a warm night and the streets were filled with more potential de Blasio voters than in Iowa. Everything seemed fine until the mayor passed the Jared Kushner-owned building at 666 Fifth Avenue on 53rd Street. Through a window on the 39th floor, the mayor saw someone puffing on a cigar and blowing smoke rings. It was Jona Rechnitz, who testified in federal court that the mayor had granted him special access and political favors after Rechnitz arranged for $200,000 in campaign contributions for the mayor.

Under his breath, de Blasio said, “May you go to Jerusalem and never return.”

To Bratton, the mayor said, “I was never indicted for political corruption. This proves I am innocent.” Bratton rolled his eyes. He had spent the past four years, trying to think positively about the mayor. “Insufferable” was the kindest word he could think of. [This despite the mayor’s having funded many of Bratton’s pet projects, including a $175,000 city job for his Los Angeles attorney friend Beth Corriea, who had no office, no regular office hours and no direct supervisor.]

Back on 54th Street, there was a commotion outside the University Club. Who was standing on the sidewalk, trying to get people to recognize him but former police commissioner Ray Kelly? “Poor Ray,” Bratton thought to himself. “You’re history.”

Indeed, without the NYPD, Ray was just another guy named Kelly. After the recent terrorist-related pipe bomb explosion, the Wall Street Journal hadn’t even mentioned him, citing instead his flunky Mitchell Silber and his “lone wolf” theories. The NY Times quoted Kelly but it wasn’t Ray. It was David C. Kelly, a minor counter-terrorism official.

Out of nowhere, a puffy white cloud appeared. Sure enough, there appeared a brightly colored shirt, wide-lapel suit, three-peaked white handkerchief in a breast pocket, white polka dot bow-tie that matched a pair of two-toned black and white Allen Edmunds Spectator shoes. Yes, it was Jack Maple.  

“Hi, commissioner,” Maple waved to Bratton. “I hear you’re making a killing with the Clintons.” He referred to the fact that Bratton, always hard up for money, was earning a reported seven-figure salary at Teneo, a global advisory firm with ties to Bill and Hillary.

Noticing de Blasio, he said to Bratton, “Who’s the tall guy?”

“Why, Jack,” said Bratton, “this is Mayor Bill de Blasio.” Maple gave de Blasio the once-over. “The mayor’s considering running for President,” Bratton said. Maple thought to himself, “Trump will eat this guy alive. All he has to do is mention two words — Jona Rechnitz.” Although residing in the outer world, Maple kept up with the news.

Maple had in fact read quite a lot about the mayor. He was familiar with the mayor’s self-inflicted “monumental” crisis — his idea that removing statues that offended racial, religious, nationalistic or gender-oriented groups would ease tensions. Of course, the opposite occurred. “Just let him try to remove the statue at Columbus Circle,” Maple thought to himself. More than any other politician, Maple felt de Blasio personified the medieval proverb, attributed to the Cistercian French abbot Bernard de Clairvaux, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” [Maple was far better read than people realized.]

Just then a state police car screeched to a halt. Seated in the back seat, his window open, was Gov. Cuomo. “Governor, I feel called upon to run for president,” said de Blasio. “Do you realize how safe I’ve made the city? Murders may come in under 300 this year, the lowest number since the 1950s.”

 “You want to run for president?” Cuomo laughed. “You think the city is safe because of you? It’s because of Rudy Giuliani. Time Magazine made him Man of the Year for how he handled 9/11. But when he ran for President, he ended up with only one delegate. You might want to think about that, Billy-boy.

 “Oh, and by the way, Giuliani never rang doorbells in Iowa.” Cuomo was referring to Hillary Clinton’s payback after de Blasio refused to initially endorse her. 

Under his breath, de Blasio said of Cuomo, “May you sleep with the fishes.”

Cuomo nodded to his driver and they sped off. The mayor was startled to see the governor lean out his window and extend his right hand. He was further startled when the governor raised his middle finger.

It was then that mayor had a frisson of insight. He had found a solution to the Columbus statue issue. To Bratton, he said, “It’s all about love.” He explained he would leave the statue in place at Columbus Circle. “But next to it, I will erect a larger statue that reflects my progressive ideals. The statue will be of The Homeless."

Up in his cloud, Maple did a double-take. “How scrumptious!” he said as he faded away.


Copyright © 2017 Leonard Levitt