"Bathtub of a Bum"
That's how CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer described Columbus Circle yesterday, after publishing exclusive pictures of a shirtless and possibly homeless man lathering up in the fountain. She also published video of the same man lounging at the entrance to Central Park, bare-chested, scratching his head and perhaps wondering how the squeegee business would be in the neighborhood.
"At least he's bathing," said one Twitter user, but the quality-of-life offense was no laughing matter to Kramer, who brought the issue to Mayor de Blasio's attention at a press conference.
De Blasio tersely said that the city was paying attention to quality-of-life offenses, and NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton noted the expansion of a pilot program training up to 10,000 officers to deal with the homeless and the emotionally disturbed. The Mayor's wife, Chirlane McCray, is also heading up a mental health initiative with an emphasis on the city's most needy citizens-roadmap to come during the fall (originally, it was planned to be unveiled this summer).
De Blasio's blues.
The rub-a-dub-dub scandal is no laughing matter for de Blasio.
A small uptick in violent crime in the recent months and a campaign by one of the city's newspapers to chronicle some incidents of . . . shall we say public exposure, paired with a City Council plan to rethink the enforcement of some quality-of life offenses has created the impression of a city backsliding through liberal boneheadedness into the tough-city days gone by.
De Blasio knows that botched snowstorms and lack of public safety are a good way to become a one-term mayor.
The back story (there always is one in Gotham)
The pictures of the still unidentified man cleaning himself under Columbus' watchful gaze, it's important to note, were not taken by some random concerned citizen, but a media relations professional named Ken Frydman, who served as Rudy Giuliani's spokesman and director of media relations during Giuliani's first successful campaign for mayor.
Frydman is recycling some arguments from his old boss's heyday about a dangerous city where squeegee men run wild.
Perhaps the bather, if he really is homeless, can use help or shelter. A concerned citizen can always call 311 to get help for a homeless person. The man probably doesn't mean to be the symbol of a pandemic.
Also, it's feels like a gazillion degrees out. Maybe he just needed to cool down.