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Bill de Blasio, under fire, keeps low profile

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks to clergy during a breakfast in support of his universal pre-K plan at Bethany Baptist Church on Feb. 11, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio, facing persistent questions over his telephone call to the NYPD about an arrested ally and his decision to open schools during the height of a major snowstorm, abruptly canceled his only public appearance Friday.

De Blasio's spokeswoman Marti Adams said there was no need to hold the event -- an 11:45 a.m. storm briefing for reporters in City Hall's Blue Room -- because "the city's response to the weather has been good overall," "there wasn't an immediate update to provide" and the mayor had already held a detailed news conference on the snow a day earlier.

De Blasio kept a relatively low profile, shoveling out his Park Slope home and sending a Valentine's Day tweet to his wife, Chirlane McCray.

At the Thursday news conference, one of the most intense of his 6-week-old mayoralty, reporters peppered him with questions about widespread complaints that he didn't close schools that morning despite crippling snow, and the call to a high-ranking NYPD official to inquire about the arrest of the political ally, Orlando Findlayter, who served on de Blasio's inaugural committee.

The mayor said he made the tough decision to keep school open after weather forecasts the previous evening were uncertain on how severe the storm would be.

De Blasio said he did not ask for any favors in the NYPD call, made Monday night after Findlayter had been arrested in Brooklyn on suspicion of driving without insurance. Officers at the precinct discovered open warrants for Findlayter, who was arrested at a protest last year for alleged civil disobedience.

He was freed, the NYPD and de Blasio say, at the discretion of the precinct commander.

But de Blasio's inquiry to police has drawn criticism, including from the good-government group Common Cause, which called it a "show of favoritism." Comptroller Scott Stringer said the call was "problematic."

NBC weatherman Al Roker Friday issued a partial apology for tweeting that de Blasio's failure to close schools would mean a one-term mayoralty.

"I apologize for that. That was a little below the line," said Roker, speaking on the "Today" show from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "But everything else, I still stand by."


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