New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel says he has no idea what the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda is other than it is a national one.
“It’s sad but it’s clear that he has a national agenda and it’s also clear that for we who have elected office, it doesn’t take us much to go off and do what we feel is the right thing to do,” Rangel told The Daily Caller Tuesday.
De Blasio has been criticized by some for not focusing enough on city-wide problems and focusing his efforts, instead, on national issues on the progressive agenda platform. Some wonder if the de Blasio is readying himself to jump into the 2016 presidential race. The mayor, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s first Senate race, withheld endorsing Clinton’s candidacy.
Rangel himself has not endorsed Clinton yet either, but he told TheDC he has been talking to her and her office regularly.
“Let me put it this way. I’m in constant touch with her and the office for the appropriate time,” he said.
As far as de Blasio is concerned, though, the 84-year old Democrat says that while he is interested in some of the New York mayor’s plans, he remains befuddled as to what de Blasio’s overall plan really is.
“Some people are annoyed with me because I attended his progressive meeting. I said that I would attend anything that sounds like it’s going to be an improvement on the status quo even though this particular agenda had nothing to do with the criminal justice system,” Rangel told The Daily Caller, noting the NYPD’s now defunct stop and frisk policy among other things.
“But the truth of the matter is, I don’t know anybody that knows anything about the mayor’s agenda,” Rangel said.
“I don’t know anyone that if we had a community type of a problem that any public official knows to tell me who I should be talking to and so I talk with Emma Wolfe [New York City’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs] but that’s hardly what I’m talking to,” he said.
Rangel says he also does not know City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito either, saying, “I don’t have a relationship with [Melissa Mark Viverito], but she is one of my City Council people in addition to being the speaker.”
The East Harlem congressman also said his relationship with Reverend Al Sharpton is also relatively distant. Sharpton appears to have a close relationship with de Blasio and advises the mayor on several matter including law enforcement issues.
“I don’t know any of the reverends and I only know of Reverend Sharpton by his comments and what I read, but if this is reported the way I said it, he would say, ‘Charlie did you ever call me for anything?’ And I would say, ‘no,'” Rangel said. “You know, I don’t call the president either. The reason I have been so successful is that I have been able to get people who have a responsibility do some of that work not me. And I tell that to my staff. Find someone in the city to take care of it.”
The congressman is also critical of the mayor’s new public housing authority plan, telling TheDC he doesn’t “understand the concept in which tenants are responsible for the debt of their land lords. I just don’t know the concept. And if you are renting an apartment in an area that includes parking space and or community centers to believe that you have a responsibility to rent or lease a part of it order to get market value to pay off the debt.”
Rangel’s Congressional District has seen a spike in shootings and he described the area as a “war zone.”
“Nine and ten-year-old kids are telling their parents that they don’t want to be in a suit and tie and if they get killed it means that these kids have not been exposed to any hope at all to get out of their environment,” he said, adding, “I would even hope that the police people would say ‘You have no idea what the hell I have to deal with. I want you to help me with better schools and get these damn people some jobs, because you are having war zones here.”
But is Mayor de Blasio paying enough attention to the plight in his district?
“I’m trying desperately hard not to deal with the mayor at all. I’m dealing with a tragic problem that we have and our city needs to get back to [handling the violence issue ] in East Harlem, and if the multi-nationals are calling the shots, and I think they should, they should be calling the shots for infrastructure and an educated workforce as well,” Rangel said.