Skip to content
Know Your Rights
Source: New York Times
Subject: Profiles of MRNY
Type: Media Coverage

De Blasio Style Evident in Effort to Sway Critics of Bratton

The Rev. Al Sharpton was blunt with Bill de Blasio on the telephone a few nights ago: He had reservations about the mayor-elect’s impending choice for police commissioner.

Mr. de Blasio had a suggestion:William J. Bratton, his pick, would immediately give Mr. Sharpton a call.

Once bitter foes, Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Bratton connected on Thursday morning, hours before Mr. de Blasio would announce his appointee, for a four-minute conversation in which the men said they hoped to find common ground.

Behind the scenes in the past 48 hours, Mr. de Blasio and his top aides have quietly waged an aggressive campaign of outreach and diplomacy to secure support for Mr. Bratton, whose deep ties to the divisive policing era of the 1990s have unsettled some allies of the mayor-elect.

The effort — including conference calls and other phone conversations among Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Bratton and prominent black and Latino leaders — offers an early glimpse of the grass-roots political style that Mr. de Blasio, a savvy operative with a background in community organizing, intends to bring to City Hall.

And it is a sign that the mayor-elect is keenly attuned to concerns among activists still unsure if Mr. Bratton, who clashed with liberal leaders while serving as commissioner in the Giuliani administration, can carry out the police reforms that Mr. de Blasio promised during his campaign.

On Thursday afternoon, after introducing Mr. Bratton at a Brooklyn news conference, Mr. de Blasio and his top political aide, Emma Wolfe, convened a conference call with liberal advocacy groups to reaffirm his commitment to curbing the use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

Around the same time, the city’s incoming public advocate, Letitia James, received an unexpected call on her cellphone: Mr. Bratton was on the line.

“He understood that I had some concerns,” said Ms. James, a city councilwoman from Brooklyn who had supported a different prospect, Philip Banks III, for police commissioner. The call, she said, was brief, but the two arranged to meet for coffee next week.

Councilman Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn, who helped pass a police oversight bill this year, said Mr. de Blasio’s aides had been in constant contact with him since Thursday about setting up a meeting with Mr. Bratton.

And Mr. de Blasio made phone calls to Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, and Representative Nydia M. Velázquez of Brooklyn. On Saturday, the mayor-elect will appear in Harlem with Mr. Bratton, Mr. Sharpton and Representative Charles B. Rangel of Harlem, for a ceremony for Nelson Mandela.

Javier H. Valdes, an executive director of the advocacy group Make the Road New York, said Mr. de Blasio’s conference call had been “reassuring” and a shift from the Bloomberg administration’s tendency toward top-down policy-making.

Still, Mr. de Blasio did not take questions during the call. And Mr. Valdes said some activists were not yet sold on Mr. Bratton. “The proof will be in the pudding,” he said.

And Mr. de Blasio’s style of outreach is not always warm and fuzzy. Last month, aides to the mayor-elect took pains to short-circuit efforts by some community leaders who had discussed declaring support for someone other than Mr. Bratton to become commissioner.

Mr. Bratton’s own outreach methods have proved effective before; in Los Angeles, he won praise for meeting with critics early in his tenure.

But this campaign may have only begun. In an interview on Friday, Mr. Sharpton said he was not entirely pleased with any of the candidates Mr. de Blasio had considered. “All of them had, one way or another, direct links to stop and frisk,” he said. “So what are we talking about here? Cosmetics?”

To view the original article, click here.