Perhaps getting ready for her hoped-for gig as immigration czar for President Hillary Clinton, Melissa Mark-Viverito is spending a lot of time in Washington these days. Today she is at Georgetown University talking about the role of the Latina in politics. Last weekend she went to Lafayette Park, across from the White House, to stand next to life-sized effigies of convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera and demand that President Obama release him.
Almost every day the Speaker’s press office sends out a notice about what she’s doing the following day. Curiously, there was no such advisory sent out the day before her trip to DC, even though she rallied with presumptive US Representative Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, and the mayor of San Juan. Well, Melissa Mark-Viverito is allowed to do things on weekends without alerting everyone about it, one supposes. Agitating for Oscar Lopez Rivera’s release from prison is like her private hobby. We don’t expect her to tell us when she goes to the movies or ice skating, so why should this be any different?
Except, unlike most of the people in our nation’s capital last Sunday marching for their hero, Speaker Mark-Viverito was accompanied by at least one of her NYPD bodyguards. One might assume that when the Speaker rides a chartered bus on a day trip to petition her government to let a seditionist out of prison, that she could manage it on her own. Not to detract from her public image, but it is very doubtful that she is so widely known outside of (or within, for that matter) the five boroughs to merit such vigilance on the part of New York’s Finest.
Her press office wouldn’t confirm that the Speaker had her Praetorians with her last week or not, although they did say that she is going to today’s shindig by herself. But there are photographs online that show one of her usual City Hall bodyguards keeping watch over her. Mark-Viverito’s spokesman also said that it is the NYPD that determines whether or not to accompany her. Maybe the fact that there was going to be a demonstration made the police worry about her safety—let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and say that’s what happened.
(As a counter-example and a sign of how far things have gone, let me relate a little anecdote: when I was a kid I lived outside Washington DC. One time, my father was going to work in a snowstorm, and the buses weren’t running, or were late. He started walking, and then someone stopped to give him a ride. He got in, and it was Tip O’Neill, who was then Speaker of the House, third in line to the Presidency, driving by himself to work, and picking up strangers in the snow.)
While we are on the subject, what happens if Tish James becomes Kings County DA? Presumably there are a number of people who might want to be Public Advocate. Dan Squadron came close last time, and may want another shot. Brad Lander is another reasonable guess. But could PA be a spot for the Speaker to shoot for as well? As of July’s filings she has almost $800,000 in her 2017 campaign account. That would be a nice start towards a citywide run in a special election. Also, this scenario would then advance the race for the next Speaker significantly.
ALSO. Maybe you don't know it, but I publish pretty frequently in City Journal and other places. Here are links to some of my recent items:
Sour Apple: New Yorkers push back against Bill de Blasio’s progressive vision for the city.