Cuomo defends de Blasio over chopper controversy

Cuomo defends de Blasio over chopper controversy

Gov. Cuomo tried to clip Mayor de Blasio’s wings as controversy mounted Tuesday over Hizzoner’s use of the NYPD helicopter fleet. “The governor uses a state aircraft for state business and does not charge taxpayers for personal or political air travel,” Cuomo’s office said when asked about de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray getting airlifted to last month’s presidential debate on Long Island. The mayor also drew fire from the New York Public Interest Group, with legislative director Blair Horner saying: “Why did he have to be flown out there is a good question.” “The mayor should be asking the Conflicts of Interest Board if it falls within one of those gray areas,” Horner added. A former City Hall staffer also challenged de Blasio’s claim that he has authority to fly in the choppers under a 2009 COIB advisory opinion that says elected officials assigned a car and security personnel can use them “for official or personal purposes or any combination of the two.” “That doesn’t mean you’re allowed to sign out a garbage truck for the weekend because you’re cleaning out your attic,” the source said. “A mayor can use his regular SUV to drive to or from a political event, but it doesn’t mean he gets to borrow a garbage truck — or a helicopter.” John Dellaportas of “Stop the Chop NYNJ” — which opposes local helicopter tours — said de Blasio’s whirlybird flights were “emblematic” of his contempt for residents forced to endure chopper noise. “We’re all just fly-over land for him and his pals and their helicopters,” Dellportas fumed.

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