Mayor de Blasio claimed Wednesday not to have seen an official email ordering cops to “sweep” homeless people from two subway stations before he visited them – and then blamed the directive on Police Department officials with “an ax to grind.”
Hours after The Post published the smoking-gun email — and three days into the controversy over it — de Blasio said he had made no effort to track down the order sent to top brass at the NYPD’s Transit Bureau.
“I have not seen an email that shows that,” the mayor said at a press conference in Queens.
Asked about repeated denials by his spokesmen that the order was given to roust vagrants from the 4th Avenue/9th Street and Jay Street/MetroTech stations for a mayoral press event on Sunday morning, the mayor said, “I don’t care my friend, because it does not matter.”
“Read my lips: I don’t care. It’s an irrelevancy,” the mayor added.
“Look, there are people in any agency who have an ax to grind, and so someone sends an email saying, ‘Oh, this was said.’ I haven’t seen any directive given, and if it was given, it shouldn’t have been,” he said of the order to cops.
De Blasio — who only recently began taking short subway trips amid a re-election campaign to gauge “the level of pain” caused by the city’s spiraling mass-transit crisis — also insisted: “I ride the subways all the time. There’s no sweeps.”
“If someone’s doing it because they have an ax to grind, God bless them. But that’s not the policy. The policy is not to do sweeps,” he said. “I get on the subway, whatever’s happening on the subway I’m going to experience with everyone else.”
NYPD sergeants union chief Ed Mullins accused de Blasio of throwing cops “in front of the bus” when he was “confronted with proof to dispute his lies.”
“This is nothing more than a Tale of Two Stories, both of which are generated by the mayor….The only thing missing in this tale is it didn’t start with, ‘Once upon a time,’” Mullins said.
During his news conference, de Blasio insisted that “any approach taken to homeless in the subways or any other problem should be the same every single day, regardless of whether I’m around.”
But ahead a pair of mayoral trips on the Staten Island Ferry in April, cops repeatedly gave crooked ticket vendors the boot before Hizzoner arrived at the Whitehall terminal.
One cop was even heard telling a ticket seller to get “off the grounds until 9:30” a.m. on April 10, the Staten Island Advance reported at the time.
Hizzoner also refused Wednesday to apologize for City Hall’s repeated assertion that The Post’s reporting about the homeless “sweep” email was “not true.”
“I’ve finished with it,” he said.
Presumptive Republican mayoral challenger Nicole Malliotakis blasted de Blasio’s “I don’t care” remark, saying: “He doesn’t care about being mayor of New York City.”
“It’s just so phony. He’s a phony, and he’s been lying to the people of New York City. He lies to the media. He either lies or ignores you. And I just think it shows that he is trying to play the media, and he is trying to play New Yorkers for fools,” she said.
The email, which bears a 10:53 p.m. Saturday time stamp, was sent by a cop at Transit Bureau headquarters and had an attachment showing the mayor’s scheduled four-stop trip on the F train Sunday morning.
“Before the Mayor arrives at the 4th Avenue station, the officers are to sweep the station for homeless persons as well as the Jay Street station. There will be press at the 4th Avenue station,” it says.
Mayoral Press Secretary Eric Phillips said Wednesday that he hadn’t shown de Blasio the email, even after The Post sent him a link to it posted on the paper’s Web site Tuesday night.
A copy of the email was also published in Wednesday’s print editions of The Post.
“Do you seriously think I’m going to disrupt his actual work to show him something he cares nothing about just so he can then comment on your story that he cares zero about (no offense to you)? Come on man, that’s not realistic,” Phillips said.