Rachel Noerdlinger -- the $170,000-a-year chief of staff to New York's first lady, Chirlane McCray -- did the right thing Monday by taking an unpaid leave of absence.
As a crescendo of criticism with ugly racial overtones swelled around her, Noerdlinger exited the City Hall stage for awhile. That should help soothe an increasingly riled-up NYPD and ease mounting tensions citywide.
Now if Mayor Bill de Blasio is smart, he'll use this time to remind New Yorkers that we share a common destiny and must work together for the best city possible.
Unfortunately, that's not the homily he gave Monday. De Blasio used the moment instead to fire a molten blast of fury at the news media for keeping the Noerdlinger controversy alive when they reported yet a new wrinkle.
To review the essentials:
Noerdlinger, a former top aide to the Rev. Al Sharpton, has been dogged by reports that she lives with Hassaun McFarlan, a convicted killer and drug dealer who seems given to writing anti-cop rants online. Noerdlinger failed to reveal this relationship in her background check for city employment. The NYC Department of Investigation took a look and found no intention to deceive. But it didn't stop there: Reports emerged of $900 in unpaid parking tickets and a failure to disclose a tax lien.
Now Noerdlinger's private life has popped up again. Her 17-year-old son, Khari, was arrested in a Manhattan apartment building on charges of criminal trespass. De Blasio said Mondaymedia coverage of the incident was "repulsive." He added "the public doesn't want to talk about these scandals and gossip." He misses a critical point.
The public is entitled to know why the mayor -- who oversees the largest police department in America -- would hire for his inner circle a person close to Sharpton, who has made a noisy career confronting cops.
The fuss over Noerdlinger is fundamentally rooted in Sharpton's influence inside the de Blasio administration. Noerdlinger is little more than a proxy. To keep his administration on track, de Blasio must grasp that.
Close ties with a provocateur come with a price.