NEW YORK: New York’s mayor fanned accusations of hypocrisy on Friday after refusing to answer questions about his SUV violating traffic rules two days after he ordered a crackdown on dangerous driving.
Bill de Blasio, who has promised to curb massive inequality, infuriated journalists when he blocked any questions about the incident at a considerably delayed news conference.
New York’s local CBS news channel on Thursday filmed his official vehicle as it ran two stop signs, changed lanes without signalling and went over the speed limit.
Just two days earlier the Democrat had ordered a crackdown on dangerous driving designed to slash traffic deaths.
But at a considerably delayed news conference, de Blasio devoted more than an hour to healthcare and repeatedly batted aside any questions on the traffic incident.
He read out a short statement saying he had “great respect” for the training and protocols of police, who guard his security, and that he was “committed, obviously, to traffic safety”.
He referred everyone to a police statement saying the mayor’s drivers have “specialized training” based on “security as well as safety” and then walked out, ending the press conference.
Indignant journalists took to Twitter to vent their frustration.
“De Blasio refusing to take questions on a fairly mid-level scandal does not portend well for his administration,” wrote political journalist Andrew Hawkins.
Michael Barbaro, a political reporter for The New York Times, harked back to de Blasio’s campaign criticism of his billionaire predecessor Michael Bloomberg.
“Flashback: as candidate, de Blasio blasted Bloomberg for being an imperial mayor, who failed to be transparent, accountable.”
Twenty pedestrians have been killed in traffic accidents in New York since the start of the year.