New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are in a competition to curry favor with leaders from the Roman Catholic and Italian-American communities, each promising to erect a statue honoring Mother Frances Cabrini, a nun who founded a religious order in the 19th century.
The flap started after Chirlane McCray, wife of de Blasio, proposed erecting a series of statues around New York City that honor the accomplishments of women under an initiative called "She Built NYC." Members of the city's Italian-American community lobbied to have Cabrini included on the first list, but she failed to make the cut.
Controversy erupted, and things got so heated that Chazz Palminteri, an actor known for his appearance in the 1993 film "A Bronx Tale," accused McCray (who is black) of being a racist for not including Cabrini. Palminteri later called a radio show and apologized to de Blasio for the statement. De Blasio told the actor he would convey the apology to his wife and added, "I will guarantee you another round of statues is coming ... real soon [and] Mother Cabrini is right at the top of the list for consideration."
Palminteri remained skeptical that the statue would come to pass, remarking, "The proof is in the pudding now. Mother Cabrini has to get a statue."
Sensing an opportunity, Cuomo, who has had a long-running political feud with de Blasio, stepped in and offered space and funding for the statue. Cuomo met with Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (who since has been accused of sexually assaulting an altar boy in the 1970s) and others and vowed to find a spot for the statue in New York City on land that's owned by the state, reported the New York Post.
"Everyone has to feel respected and included, and like they have a seat at...