De Blasio and Cuomo Fire Tense Letters Over Security in Homeless Shelters

The latest public feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo is over security in homeless shelters, after a multiple fatal stabbing in a Staten Island hotel. State House Reporter Zack Fink explains.

It was an absolutely horrific crime: a triple homicide on Staten Island on Wednesday morning left three people dead, including two children, while a fourth victim — only two years old — survived.

The family, who was homeless, had been placed at the Ramada Inn by the city for temporary shelter.

De Blasio briefed the media on the incident Wednesday afternoon, and a few hours later the Cuomo administration sent a sharply-worded letter to City Hall, describing the security situation at shelters as "simply unacceptable."

Some observers interpreted that as another attempt by Cuomo to embarrass his rival, de Blasio.

"Whether it's homeless, whether it's shelters, Sunnyside Yards, charter schools, Ebola, you name it, and there's conflict," said Doug Muzzio of Baruch College.

The mayor and the governor have been openly feuding for roughly nine months.

Sometimes they issue public statements that undermine one another, but more often than not  they use intermediaries or surrogates.

The mayor declined to speculate on whether the governor was purposely needling him over the issue of shelter safety this week.

"I don't waste time trying to interpret," he said. "We saw immediately what we had to do and we did it."

After the state sent its letter making certain demands of the city on shelter security, the mayor's point-person on homelessness, Steven Banks, fired off his own terse letter.

He said the city was already implementing many of the state's directives, including removing all homeless families from the Ramada Inn on Staten Island, and providing 24-hour security, which de Blasio had already announced he would do on Wednesday.

"We will provide security to them," the mayor said. "They have to agree to accept it, but we will have it on-site, 24 hours, and available to them."

"I think the governor has had a thing for de Blasio," Muzzio said. "If one of the school yard fighters began it, it was Cuomo, and he's relentless."

De Blasio and Cuomo are expected to be in Albany this weekend for Black and Latino Caucus Weekend.

While both camps have been very tight-lipped about the respective leaders' public schedules, the two are not expected to overlap or run into each other at any events.

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