The phrase “There’s honor among thieves” can be traced back at least to the days of the ancient Roman orator Cicero. But in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York City, apparently, there’s honor among arsonists, too.
On Wednesday evening, a 50-foot Christmas tree in front of the Midtown Manhattan headquarters of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, three of the foremost media outlets in the country, was set on fire.
Firefighters extinguished the flames and removed what was left of the tree, which had been adorned with 10,000 glass ornaments and 100,000 lights. The damages totaled approximately $500,000.
The fire was presumably set by Craig Tamanaha, a 49-year-old homeless man. Fox News security personnel reportedly saw Tamanaha climbing the tree, and he was arrested shortly after fleeing the scene.
“I didn’t do it,” Tamanaha told reporters while shouting profanities at them and asking for a cigarette. “He’s a nut. I can’t control him,” Tamanaha’s father, Richard, told the New York Post. “Mentally, he’s not all there.”
According to Fox News, Tamanaha told police, “I have been thinking about lighting the tree on fire all day long.”
Assuming Tamanaha is guilty as charged, this would be just another run-of-the-mill criminal escapade by a mentally imbalanced person who obviously poses a risk to public safety. But the incredible part of this story is that the very next day, Tamanaha was released from custody without bail.
He’s scheduled to report to court on Jan. 4 — you know, on the honor system. Apparently, he’s been given other appearance tickets but has never returned to court, and yet he was released yet again.
This is Bill de Blasio’s New York.
More specifically, Tamanaha was granted “supervised release,” a de Blasio program designed to alleviate prison overload by suspects who can’t make bail. According to the mayor’s office, the program is progressing swimmingly, with “community supervision” herding pretrial defendants back to court.
Except, as we see in Tamanaha’s case, it hasn’t worked.
Days before the Fox Christmas tree was set ablaze, Tamanaha pulled down his pants outside the courtroom during the high-profile Ghislaine Maxwell trial. Yet that wasn’t enough to keep him behind bars, and neither is the fact that he’s apparently the only suspect in the tree-burning incident.
The bureaucratic red tape around Tahamana’s release without bail is that, under current law, the charges brought against him aren’t severe enough to require bail. Again, this is de Blasio’s New York.
Were there even a modicum of common sense within the de Blasio administration, it would not be so difficult to keep dangerous criminals incarcerated before trial.
Instead, setting a massive Christmas tree on fire on Sixth Avenue only requires bail if it is deemed a “hate crime.” Hate toward whom? Doesn’t the act itself suggest hate — or at least reckless disregard — toward private property, holiday traditions and, most of all, public safety?
As countless New York police officers have lamented, de Blasio’s appearance ticket cavalcade has kept prison cells nice and empty while dangerous lawbreakers roam free.
The same miscreants who are already known to have no regard for law and order are now being trusted to reappear in court of their own volition, knowing that doing so might put them at risk of a jail sentence. They’re trusted to do the right thing and obey the law, even to their own detriment.
If that concept were the subject of a cartoon, even toddlers would find it laughably unbelievable.
As Bob Dole — the longtime Republican Senate leader and 1996 GOP presidential nominee who died this month — said during his campaign, “Where is the outrage?”
Thankfully, de Blasio’s reign of error in my beloved hometown is coming to a long-overdue end on Jan. 1. His successor, Eric Adams, is bound to do better — because awful is an easy standard to beat.
But New Yorkers would be much better served if Adams does more than improve on the dismal de Blasio years by a smidgen; if his mayorship is anything like the Rudy Giuliani revolution that revitalized the greatest city in the world in the 1990s, future arsonists and other dangerous criminals won’t be let loose on the streets on the honor system.
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