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’Twas the Night Before Christmas ...
December 23, 2019
On the night before Christmas, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to stroll down Fifth Avenue to see how New Yorkers felt about his beginning a 2024 campaign for president.
To reflect that he was both compassionate and tough on crime, he asked Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to accompany him. Shea begged off, saying he wanted to avoid answering reporters’ questions about the murder of Barnard student Tessa Majors in Morningside Park two weeks ago.
The mayor then reached out to former police commissioner Jimmy O’Neill. O’Neill also begged off. He wanted nothing to do with de Blasio since the mayor pressured him to renege on his promise to allow “chokehold” cop Daniel Pantaleo to keep his pension.
The mayor thought of calling First Deputy Ben Tucker and Chief of Department Terence Monahan but decided against it. Tucker was still sore at being passed over for police commissioner for the second time. Monahan hadn’t been seen or heard from in weeks.
That left Bill Bratton. Like most law enforcement officials, Bratton had little use for de Blasio. But never one to spurn an invitation for the-night-before-Christmas stroll, Bratton began to regale de Blasio about how he and his sidekick, the late, great Jack Maple, had inaugurated the Stroll in 1995. “We wanted to see how many New Yorkers recognized us for having singlehandedly created the greatest crime drop in city history,” Bratton told de Blasio. (See NYPD Confidential Dec. 26 1995.)
“The old gasbag,” de Blasio said to himself about Bratton. Bratton represents the past, de Blasio said to himself. He only thinks about crime, crime, crime. I represent the future. Today everyone understands that crime is function of poverty. That is why I say we must support the homeless.
“Do I know you?” answered the man in the woodman’s cap, who turned out to be a tourist from Idaho.
“Don’t be discouraged, Mr. Mayor” said Bratton. “Back in 1995, a few benighted souls didn’t recognize me or Maple.”
Bratton rolled his eyes. He thought to himself: this guy is unhinged.
Spotting a woman holding a shopping bag outside Tiffany’s, the mayor sprinted over. “Madam,” he said, “Are you aware of my policy of Neighborhood Policing?”
“Is that different from Community Policing?” she said.
“Oh, it’s very different. With Neighborhood Policing, neighborhoods and the police will get to know each other and become friends.”
“Ridiculous,” said the woman.
Then, standing outside the University Club on 54th Street, whom did de Blasio see but Ray Kelly. The mayor tentatively stuck out his hand but Kelly pretended not to see it. Kelly also disdained the mayor. Not only had he run on an anti-police platform to end Kelly’s Stop and Frisk policy; worse, he had appointed Kelly’s nemesis Bratton as his successor.
Suddenly, the mayor felt a chill over his left shoulder. He looked up and noticed a white cloud hovering above St. Pat’s. Inside it was the silhouette of a short, fat man with a round face, wearing a white, polka-dot bow tie. It was none other than Jack Maple.
“I was just looking at my reflection in Bergdorf’s window, deciding whether the white polka dots in my bow tie matched the white in my Allen Edmonds spectator shoes,” Maple said, as though he did not have a worldly care.
“The other side isn’t so far away,” Maple said. “For example, I see that murders are increasing. There were also more crimes in open spaces, in the city’s parks and in the subways, which is where anarchy begins. And then the stabbing of that Barnard student in Morningside Park.”
The mayor’s mouth hung open. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“This is the Jackster talking to you now, Mr. Mayor,” Maple went on. “I’m looking into your eyes. I know about crime. It’s starting to come back. Tell me the truth, Mr. Mayor. You’re scared, aren’t you?”
The mayor grabbed Bratton’s arm. “Did you see that?” the mayor stammered. “Did you hear that?”
“You look as though you’ve seen a ghost,” Bratton said. “I forgot to tell you, he appears every year. What did he say to you?”
“He warned me about crime,” said the mayor.
Copyright © 2019 Leonard Levitt