New York (CBSNewYork) — A newspaper publisher whose wife died two days earlier admitted to slapping two people, including a state lawmaker, Monday during a campaign event for mayoral candidate Christine Quinn at the site of the shuttered St. Vincent’s Hospital.
WestView News publisher George Capsis said he struck state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and one of Quinn’s interns. Capsis said in published reports that his wife died of lung cancer Saturday, and because the hospital was closed in 2010, he had to travel an hour and a half to a hospital in the Bronx to visit her during her final days.
“If this hospital had existed, I could have walked two blocks and spent time with her in the last hours of her life,” Capsis said after the incident. He was issued a violation for harassment but was not arrested, police said.
Quinn, the City Council speaker, said she was “deeply upset” over the incident.
“There is no place in this City — let alone a political campaign — for violence or intimidation of any kind,” Quinn said in a statement. “I condemn in the strongest possible terms any individual, group, or campaign that would commit or condone such repugnant behavior, and would urge every campaign or individual involved in the mayor’s race to do the same.”
Quinn wasn’t the only mayoral hopeful to stump Monday at the site of St. Vincent’s, which closed while facing a $1 billion debt. Bill de Blasio staged a rally at the West Village property later in the day, accompanied by a star-studded cast of supporters — singer Harry Belafonte and actresses Cynthia Nixon, Rosie Perez and Susan Sarandon.
De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, told supporters that St. Vincent’s could have been saved, WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reported. Luxury condominiums are now being constructed at the site.
“If you want to be reminded of what happens when we lose a hospital, just look up there,” de Blasio said. “Brothers and sisters, we cannot and we will not let this happen again.”
While Capsis is a de Blasio supporter, the candidate was quick to try to distance himself from the slapping incidents.
“We’re going to let people know what we think, but we’re going to respect people even when we disagree with them,” de Blasio said.
Hospital closings were a hot topic on the mayoral campaign trail throughout the day Monday. But the messages of Quinn, de Blasio, and even fellow Democratic candidate Bill Thompson got sidetracked by the slapping incident.
“Earlier today, we saw two bickering campaigns attacking each other when they should be attacking the problem,” Thompson said. “We’ve lost more than a dozen hospitals in the last 12 years.”
The event came on the heels of a judge’s decision to keep Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn open temporarily. On Saturday, the judge ordered SUNY Downstate to restore services at the hospital to the levels where they stood prior to July 19 — the day the New York State Health Department approved closing the facility.
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