You learn a lot about the egos of politicians when a Dumpster explodes in New York City. The day after a pressure-cooker bomb in Chelsea on September 17 sent the city into a frenzy, Mayor Bill de Blasio called a noon press conference to update reporters on the investigation.
Cuomo popped up two hours earlier for his own press conference, flanked by MTA workers in fluorescent vests. The governor is savvy. The national Sunday shows would air him live. Cuomo labeled the act “terrorism” — de Blasio, advised by the police not to speak ahead of facts, had refrained from using the term — so he gained the headlines.
Clearly, Cuomo was sending the message that, as governor, he was in charge during a crisis, but was he also trying to send a message about the mayor? That de Blasio was sleeping in? Still at the gym? The mayor had been frequently knocked for his long commutes from Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side to his YMCA in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Suggestions that he needs to knuckle down have emanated from the governor’s office.
When a reporter asked Cuomo why he wasn’t attending the mayor’s press conference, he waved the question off: “This is how we do things.” Actually, who invited whom to the dueling press conferences — and when — is a subject of disagreement. The mayor’s office says the governor declined an invitation to de Blasio’s noon briefing. The governor’s office says he was never invited and, furthermore, that they invited the mayor to his event, but the mayor declined. The mayor’s office says they don’t recall receiving this invitation.