He’s Brooklyn Paper’s biggest fan!
Mayor DeBlasio, lauded by this newspaper as the city’s largest chief executive, promised to sit down with its reporters at a recent meeting with their one-time competitors from Gothamist and DNA Info, during which the 6-foot-5 former Park Slope pol recognized the Paper’s integral role in his early political career.
“I lived and died by the Brooklyn Paper for a substantial piece of my life, because I was a school board member and a city council member,” Hizzoner said during the Friday session at City Hall.
The last time one of our reporters talked one-on-one with DeBlasio, born Warren Whilhem, was in 2013, around the time the then-public advocate threw his hat into the ring to become New York City’s next — and tallest — mayor.
But the Paper has covered the “outer-borough working dad” — a moniker DeBlasio received from his wife at the onset of his mayoral campaign — since his humble political beginning as a local councilman back in 2002.
Among Hizzoner’s notable achievements in that time was his generous purchase of former Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman’s ankle cast signed by then-borough president Marty Markowitz, which DeBlasio bought as part of a fund-raiser for Markowitz’s Camp Brooklyn charity.
“It was meaningful to have Marty’s signature, given that I want to be borough president, but it was far more important to have Kuntzman’s daughter’s doodles — which, I believe, include a heart and a picture of a brownie with a cherry on top,” DeBlasio said of his swag at the time.
In 2009, the Paper broke the news that then-Councilman DeBlasio made a neighborhood eatery near his 11th Street townhouse, Purity Diner on Seventh Avenue, an unofficial headquarters for his public-advocate campaign, inviting other electeds, reporters, and constituents to schmooze while he chowed down on a BLT and an egg cream.
But after voters elected him mayor a little more than four years later, DeBlasio with his wife and kids packed up and left their Park Slope nabe for government housing in Gracie Mansion on the distant isle of Manhattan — and this newspaper was there to bid them farewell.
Hizzoner’s cross-river move did not go without controversy, and the Paper’s reporters were also there when angry neighbors complained about the mini-police fortress erected outside his Brooklyn home to protect the family before it settled into its mansion in the outer borough.
And our newsmen and women are there to report on Hizzoner’s frequent returns to his former home, including the times his diesel-fueled motorcade shuttles him the 11 miles from his Manhattan residence to his beloved Park Slope gym.
The Paper has covered DeBlasio at his worst, including when he ran out of patience at a Brooklyn Heights town hall this October, and his best, such as his landslide mayoral victory in the 2013 election.
And its reporters look forward to covering whatever comes next — as soon as the mayor confirms a date for his promised meeting.