The Bill de Blasio supporter who was arrested but avoided a night in jail in a case into which the mayor inquired with a high-ranking NYPD official was a last-minute no-show Saturday for what was supposed to be his first public statement on the controversy.
Bishop Orlando Findlayter of Lynbrook, an early endorser of de Blasio's mayoral bid and later a member of his inaugural committee, told reporters Friday that he would address the press at the Rev. Al Sharpton's weekly rally in Harlem Saturday. But at the appointed hour, Findlayter's wife called The Wall Street Journal to say he'd been "advised" by a publicist -- she wouldn't say who -- not to show up.
De Blasio has steadfastly defended his query, saying he never asked for a favor and that a precinct commander had already decided to release the bishop before the call. It's unclear, though, whether the commander's decision also preceded earlier inquiries by de Blasio staff.
Critics, including the good-government group Common Cause, have assailed de Blasio's actions, saying they signal favoritism.
On Saturday, Sharpton ridiculed reporters at his rally: "If Rudy Giuliani is saying it ain't no big deal, and if Rudy and Al Sharpton can agree on something, then ya'll need to go on to the next thing."
Sharpton was referring to comments last week by the former mayor -- a Republican foe of both men -- that de Blasio's call wasn't wrong or even notable.
Findlayter, of the New Hope Christian Fellowship in Brooklyn, was arrested Monday night after he allegedly made a left turn without signaling. The vehicle's insurance had lapsed and officers later found open warrants stemming from his failure to show up to court to address a civil disobedience arrest. He was allowed to leave while most people would have remained in jail until seeing a judge.
Sharpton faithfully defended de Blasio. He said he can't be sure similar inquiries haven't been made in past administrations. Reporters peppered him with questions: Why isn't the call a big deal? Should the mayor have made the call at all? Does the call suggest a desire for a certain outcome?
Sharpton paused so each question could be asked, then kept giving the same answer: "I agree with Rudy Giuliani. It's not a big deal."