By Bill Parry
The Juniper Park Civic Association is threatening to sue the de Blasio administration for slander by one of its spokeswomen, according to its president, Bob Holden. After city Comptroller Scott Stringer was invited to Middle Village last week speak to a town hall meeting addressing concerns with the city housing single men at the Holiday Inn Express, Aja Worthy-Davis released a statement saying, “Scott Stringer is courting a group advocating for kicking women and toddlers onto the street, using White Lives Matter as their protest song. He should be ashamed.”
The civic group hired attorneys who fired off a letter to City Hall asking for an apology and a retraction before taking the matter to the next level. They have not heard back, Holden said.
“It’s so slanderous and we’re going to take action on it because it’s so irresponsible,” he said. “Nobody connected with the Juniper Park Civic Association used that term during our rallies, only the mayor’s office heard it. It has no remote connection to our group. We invited Scott Stinger to speak to us. It’s the mayor’s office that made this political and racial. I don’t have words, but it reflects the kind of people this mayor has hired. It is false. It is slanderous.”
City Hall received the letter and spokesman Eric Phillips said, “The city’s lawyers will be responding to Mr. Holden.”
Special Counsel to the Mayor Henry Berger added, “We are entitled to present facts and to express our opinions. Neither provides a basis for legal action.”
The comptroller, who is viewed as a potential primary challenger of de Blasio’s next year, declined to comment, but his spokesman Tyrone Stevens said, “We meet with those whom we agree —and those with whom we disagree. Our city is facing record-high homelessness, and it’s only growing. This is a problem that has to be solved by working with communities across the five boroughs.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) attended the town hall meeting, and he was livid when he heard of Worthy-Davis’ comment.
“As made evident by his spokesperson’s statement, once again Mayor de Blasio has failed to see the real issue at hand when dealing with the city’s homeless crisis,” Addabbo said.
“Instead of looking at the facts and realizing that his shelter policies are failing all throughout the city, our mayor continues to hide behind an imaginary racial battle that has no place in this effort to find a solution to homelessness. The opposition to using hotels as shelters in any community, not just Maspeth, has never been racially motivated. In fact, the only time race has been used as the primary focus is when Mayor de Blasio’s administration uses it to attack and misrepresent the hardworking, taxpaying people I represent who simply want to improve a failed homeless policy and to assist those individuals in need of adequate, permanent housing.”
In late September, the city produced two videos of the Maspeth group protesting outside a Bellerose hotel, and released them to social media. Holden and Addabbo believe the White Lives Matter chants were edited into one of the videos.
“Twice now, the mayor has wasted taxpayer dollars to record and produce inappropriate propaganda videos that wrongly make the public believe that those who oppose shelters in their neighborhoods are racist,” Addabbo said. “His rhetoric is doing nothing but continuing to divide our city and further delay the plausible solutions that homeless New Yorkers are counting on him to provide.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr