New York Mayor Faces Criticism for Police Commissioner Pick

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill, left, listens as his successor, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, center, speaks at New York City Hall, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio looks on.

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill, left, listens as his successor, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, center, speaks at New York City Hall, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio looks on. Richard Drew/AP


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Recanvass in Kentucky governor’s race … Montgomery rejects proposal to criminalize giving money to homeless people … Sioux Falls legalizes beekeeping.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing criticism for his pick to replace former Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who resigned last week. De Blasio selected Dermot Shea, now the third white Irish-American police commissioner in a row. Critics are questioning why de Blasio did not select the second-highest-ranking police official, Benjamin Tucker, a black deputy commissioner who has been passed over for the top job once before. Councilmember Donovan J. Richards, a Democrat, said that de Blasio missed an opportunity to diversify the city’s leadership. “We were looking for leadership that has that lived experience. Even with all the good will that O’Neill and Shea have, they have not experienced stop and frisk. Their children have not experienced stop and frisk,” he said. State Rep. Catalina Cruz, a Democrat from Queens, aired her frustration on Twitter. “At a time when the relationship between police and communities of color couldn’t be worse—we chose yet another white guy? What gives?” she wrote. De Blasio defended his choice, saying that police leadership would be more diverse in the future. “Everyone has to understand that this particular job, when it comes down to it, we’re asking one human being to do an extraordinary set of things and that’s a special calling,” he said. While white officers are in the minority of the patrol ranks in the city’s police department, leadership is disproportionately white. De Blasio campaigned on structural change in the police department, including diversifying its ranks. Shea said he will target gang-related violence in his time as commissioner. “Every New Yorker deserves to be safe and feel safe, and that has been my mission since I took the oath and became a police officer 28 years ago. As police commissioner, this will be what drives me,” he said. [ABC 7 NY; New York Times]

KENTUCKY RECANVASS | Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican whose challenger got 5,000 more votes in Tuesday’s election, has requested a recanvass of the results. A recanvass is different than a recount, and requires a review of the vote totals in each county. Bevin’s campaign manager, Davis Paine, said that the election is too close to call. “The people of Kentucky deserve a fair and honest election. With reports of irregularities, we are exercising the right to ensure that every lawful vote was counted,” he said. Bevin’s campaign did not specify what irregularities they were referring to, and did not respond to requests from several news outlets to clarify. Democrat Andy Beshear’s campaign manager said his candidate is already preparing for the transition. . “We hope that Matt Bevin honors the results of the recanvass, which will show he received fewer votes than Andy Beshear. As has been reported, a ‘recanvassing has never changed the result of a Kentucky election," Eric Hyers said. County boards of election will meet on November 14 to retotal their results. State law does not allow for a recount in governor’s races, although Bevin could contest the election. Joshua Douglas, a University of Kentucky election law professor, said Beshear’s vote margin is pretty solid. "I think the 5,000-vote differential out of 1.4 million cast—yeah, although it sounds small—is actually a pretty large amount when it comes to the likelihood of the vote totals changing in any of these post-election disputes," Douglas told NPR.  . [WYMT; USA Today; NPR]

PANHANDLING | The Montgomery City Council rejected a proposed ordinance that would have criminalized the act of giving money to panhandlers from a car. The measure in the Alabama city would have amended an ordinance passed earlier in the year that created a fine and at least two jail days for anyone who panhandles. That original ordinance passed unanimously, but wasn’t signed by the mayor and has not been enforced. The council voted unanimously to reject the new amendment. The Southern Poverty Law Center threatened to sue if the amendment wasn’t vetoed. Rev. Edward Nettles spoke against the proposal at the council meeting. "Panhandling may be an eyesore to the city, but it's survival to those who are on the streets. There are veterans. There are people out there at no fault of their own," he said. Councilmember Audrey Graham said that the amount of opposition convinced her to vote against the measure. "As I see the amount of people that are here today and the concern, I wonder if we should deal with it more before we officially pass it," she said. [Montgomery Advertiser; ABC News; Alabama News Network]

BEEKEEPING | The city council of Sioux Falls, South Dakota legalized beekeeping this week, replacing a ban on keeping bee hives within city limits with a regulated system that involves training requirements and permits. Proponents of the measure said that bees pose little risk to the public and provide a myriad of benefits to the local environment. Sioux Falls Animal Control Supervisor Julie DeJong said that her department will have to prepare for the change. "Currently animal control is not equipped or trained to take care of bee swarms. We will need to train our officers to be able to handle bees, and we'll have to buy bee suits and equipment,” Dejong said. The new law will require anyone who keeps bees on their property to obtain the written consent of their neighbors first, which Councilmember Christine Erickson said is extremely important.  "This is very, very emotional and very, very real for people that do have bee allergies and making sure that they are communicated with and really the transparency of identifying where those homes and those risks are for their children is important," Erickson said.[Argus Leader; KSFY]

CHILDREN’S CABINET | Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced a new city cabinet department that will lead investments in programming for the city’s youth. The Baltimore Children’s Cabinet will include representatives from state and local agencies and its first missions will include addressing youth homelessness, food insecurity and the “historical barriers that prevent the success of boys and young men of color.” Tisha Edwards, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success, will lead the initiative. “These goals cast a broad net but accurately reflect the incredibly broad scope of work before us to make sure our young people have access to the opportunities, resources and supports they need and deserve. The work is really about addressing deep, institutional poverty in ways that will—and where we must—move the needle. We promise to deliver measurable outcomes for children and families in our city,” she said. [CBS Baltimore; Baltimore Sun]

Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.

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