We depend on the support of readers like you to help keep our publication strong and independent. Join us.
Mayor de Blasio, jarred from his lethargy into visiting Rikers Island Sept. 27 by a scathing letter from the Federal monitor questioning whether his administration had the competence to make needed changes in the jail system, clearly wasn't going to pretend to care about either the officers who work for him or the inmates.
He spent roughly 90 minutes at Rikers, then told reporters who were barred from coming inside with him that he spoke to both medical personnel and uniformed staff but not Correction Officers—whose colleagues he had repeatedly accused of dereliction of duty at their expense—or the detainees who have also had to endure deteriorating conditions.
Asked the following morning during his daily briefing why he hadn't reached out to line officers, the Mayor responded that there was nothing he could have learned by doing so.
"I don't need to be reminded of something I already know," he explained. "Those are horrible problems that have existed for years."
One obvious question was, if Mr. de Blasio was that well-informed, why hadn't he done anything about those "horrible problems" during his first 93 months in office?
Another was, had it occurred to him that maybe the officers, whose morale was already low before he questioned their collective work ethic and accused their union of either fueling or condoning an unofficial sick-out (isn't it amazing that someone who knows as much about Rikers as the Mayor professes couldn't decide which charge the union was guilty of?), might have appreciated his acknowledging their existence?
Perhaps officers already know how indifferent he is, based on his vowing 18 months ago to end the "dumb managerial mistake" of assigning triple shifts, but since then offering nothing more than lip service as some of those extended tours bled into quadruple shifts.
Nonetheless, Correction Captains Association President Pat Ferraiuolo told us Oct. 1, "They could've used just a nice 'thataboy' after working under the conditions they have. Just to reach out and shake a Correction Officer's hand and say thank you for the hard work."
The only consolation, he said, was that the stunning lack of empathy coming from City Hall might be ending when Mr. de Blasio leaves office Jan. 1.
Speaking of a visit earlier in the month from the man most likely to succeed him, Mr. Ferraiuolo said, "When Eric Adams came to Rikers, he sat and spoke with both officers and inmates for a while. That, I think, was a good indication of things to come."