NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor de Blasio is on the hot seat amid stunning charges his administration pulled out of mental health seminar for first responders because a pro-cop group was a co-sponsor.
This comes as the NYPD has been rocked by another string of officer suicides this week.
“It’s sickening,” Councilman Joseph Borelli of Staten Island said.
“It is a lie,” de Blasio claimed.
Charges and counter charges made over the startling decision by first lady Chirlane McCray’s multi-million dollar mental health initiative, Thrive NYC, to pull out of a mental health seminar for first responders.
The decision allegedly made because the co-sponsor was pro-police group Blue Lives Matter.
Staten Island councilman Joseph Borelli, the event sponsor, says team de Blasio tried to back track after the latest NYPD officer took his life. The seventh suicide since June.
“They were going to be defiant about this until the suicide happened last night… until they realized how, how unimaginable this would look in the wake of that,” Councilman Borelli explained.
The councilman added that Thrive was on board, agreeing to provide psychologists and experts until they saw a proposed flyer – which had the Blue Lives Matter logo.
“They told us they didn’t want to have their Thrive logo on a flyer with any other logo,” Borelli said.
Then they told us they didn’t want to have their logo on a flyer with a councilman.”
Call it flyer-gate. CBS2 has obtained numerous Thrive NYC flyers where they partnered with other groups and other council members. See them here:
“It’s very disheartening because to have nine police officers kill themselves outside of work, try to find a solution, and to extend your hand to do whatever you can to save lives. It was very disheartening,” Joseph Imperatrice of Blue Lives Matter said.
Mayor de Blasio has had a difficult and rocky relationship with New York’s Finest.
They dramatically turned their backs on him after police officers Wenjian Lliu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated in their squad car.
The mayor, on the defensive, went after Borelli instead.
“I’m saying he is playing a game. It’s a lie and of course we would have mental health first aid with that organization,” the mayor claimed.
But last week, Thrive NYC deputy director Sarah Solon sent an “oops we made a mistake” email to Borelli’s chief of staff.
“I think our office mishandled this. Let me know if you’d like to speak, just the two of us.”
He says you changed your mind because of the latest suicide,” CBS2’s Marcia Kramer told de Blasio.
“No Marcia, first of all he has my phone number… If he thought a functionary was saying ‘oh I can’t do my mental health first aid’ pick up their god forsaken phone and say ‘we’ve got a problem here can we fix it’ I would have said yeah we’ll fix it right now,” a frustrated de Blasio exclaimed.
The mayor says he’s willing to book the seminar “today.”
Thrive NYC deputy director Sarah Solon says the group is now planning to hold nine NYPD mental health first aid training sessions in the next month.
Councilmember Borelli says he’s rescheduling his seminar without Thrive NYC. Blue Lives Matter will still be an integral part.