While Mayor Michael Bloomberg took Sunday morning airtime to discuss his new $12 million gun control ad campaign, four Democratic mayoral candidates touched upon a range of issues, including the New York Police Department and paid sick leave.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Councilman Sal Alabanese, and current and former Comptrollers John Liu and Bill Thompson, respectively, all appeared on MSNBC’s "Up with Chris Hayes."
The four candidates took up five segments of the Sunday morning cable talkshow, with each candidate doing their best to distinguish themselves from the others as they reiterate their opposition to the New York Police Department’s policy of stopping, questionioning and frisking people on the street. Liu was the only firm opponent to the policy, with his fellow candidates adopting nuanced, critical stances on the subject.
"This is not America," Liu said, pointing to stop-and-frisk as institutionalized racial profiling. "This is not democratic."
De Blasio, Thompson and Albanese repeated their support for a reformed stop-and-frisk program with a greater emphasis on constitutional limits and community engagement. De Blasio went a step further, however, and blamed the lack of police oversight for the current state of affairs.
"There has been an absolute deference to the police commissioner of New York City in a way that we haven’t seen anywhere else in the country," he said. Three of the panelists agreed on one thing: Ray Kelly wouldn’t continue to serve as the city’s police commissioner if they were elected. De Blasio, Liu and Thompson all said they’d find a new NYPD chief, while Albanese said he wouldn't make a decision until after being elected.
Hayes then brought up the proposed inspector general idea as a possible oversight, which Albanese called an outright shell game. The former Bay Ridge councilman argued that the City Council already has the power to call NYPD policies into question, repeating the mayor’s argument that an inspector general would be redundant to existing checks on police.
"This is political theater," he said. "That’s what this is, because they’re punting the ball to an unelected official."
De Blasio struck back, arguing that most of the existing checks against police misconduct have been hampered by the current and former mayoral administrations.
"There has been an absolute deference to the police commissioner of New York City in a way that we haven’t seen anywhere else in the country," de Blasio said.
While the four candidates couldn’t agree on stop-and-frisk or the inspector general, they all said they support the Council's stalled paid sick leave bill. Thompson brought up his letter to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose spokesman said she was unable to attend Sunday’s TV panel. Quinn has prevented bills on paid sick leave from going to a vote since 2010, often saying she supports the intent of the bill, but that the city’s economy was too delicate for it go to a vote at this time.
"If you’re concerned about the economy, where things are at now, put a year delay in," Thompson said. "But let’s move the bill. And what we’re seeing is one person, one individual blocking the wishes ... of the people of the city of New York."