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Will Rechnitz Haunt de Blasio For Ever?

November 6, 2017

Poor Bill de Blasio.

Neither last Tuesday’s terrorist attack nor the NYPD’s Friday announcement that it was on the verge of arresting Harvey Weinstein on rape allegations could protect the mayor from Jona Rechnitz.

Rechnitz is the rich Orthodox Jewish real estate fixer who corrupted the top levels of the NYPD and arguably City Hall. For the last couple of weeks, he’s been singing like a canary, as they say — the feds’ star witness in the corruption trial of former corrections union head Norman Seabrook.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD Confidential“It’s amazing you guys are still asking me” about him, the mayor said of Rechnitz at a news conference Friday at Police Plaza on crime statistics. He declined to comment after a Daily News reporter asked about Rechnitz’s claim that he had paid for de Blasio’s chief fundraiser Ross Offinger’s hotel stay during a Caribbean vacation.

“Did you ask Offinger about it?” a New York Times reporter then asked.

“No,” said the mayor.

“Why not?” asked the reporter.

Then on Sunday, there was Rechnitz’s puss smack on the Daily News’s front page with the sub-head: “After big donations to Blaz, city turned blind eye to complaints,” a reference to 19 hotel citations Rechnitz faced. Apparently, he was using a Madison Avenue townhouse as a kind of illegal bed and breakfast. The citations stopped after Rechnitz said he made a $102,000 campaign contribution.

Still, the mayor is a lock to win reelection Tuesday. Both the feds and the Manhattan District Attorney chose not to indict him on fundraising issues, a fact that de Blasio uses as his standard response to reporters asking him about Rechnitz’s allegations.

Seabrook’s trial continues this week as well. He is charged with accepting a $60,000 cash kickback from Rechnitz, who served as middleman for Seabrook and Rechnitz’s hedge-funder friend and co-defendant Murray Huberfeld, with whom Seabrook invested $20 million of union money. His guilt or innocence will largely depend on how credible the jury hearing the case deems Rechnitz.

No matter what the jury decides, Rechnitz’s testimony will hang around the mayor’s neck far longer than his expected victory speech Tuesday night.

. Two days after the terrorist attack in lower Manhattan, The New York Times wrote an article about Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill, headlined: “In Moment of Crisis O’Neill Finds His Voice.”

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittThe article discussed the confident and amiably humble manner in which O’Neill conducted a news conference at Police Plaza the afternoon of the attack, saying “It was perhaps the biggest test of his tenure….”

It also described his syntax as “quick, in clipped tones ... a divergence from the highly polished presentations” displayed by both his predecessors Bill Bratton and Ray Kelly.

Memo to the Times: In fact, O’Neill is a better speaker than either of his predecessors, precisely because he doesn’t give polished presentations. Rather, he speaks from the heart, often with humor, something his predecessors lacked.

And O’Neill found his voice a year ago — after the first terrorism attack on his watch, the bombing in Chelsea in which fortunately no one died. That occurred during O’Neill’s first week in office.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialHORRIBLE, HORRIBLE. It was a last-minute, throwaway question at the end of Friday’s hour-long news conference on crime statistics at Police Plaza last Friday. Mayor de Blasio was asked his reaction to the closing of the local news websites DNA and Gothamist after their staffs voted to unionize.

“Horrible, horrible,” said the mayor, seemingly without pausing to think. Because people want to unionize, its owner shuts it down? he said. There are is something wrong, he continued, when “wealthy people” can decide these things. This represents what the mayor termed “structural problems” with the media.

Big Bill is right on the money on this one.

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