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Analysis: For a day, de Blasio and Cuomo call off their attacks and have a public truce

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NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo miss few opportunities to tout their decades-long friendship.

But their relationship has often resembled one in need of therapy, as Cuomo has repeatedly blocked key components of de Blasio's agenda, while the mayor grimly took it. However, in recent days, de Blasio showed rare flashes of temper, swiping back at Cuomo's criticism of the mayor's affordable housing plan in the final days of the state's legislative session, calling the governor "disingenuous" and questioning his commitment to helping the less fortunate.

But then, as soon as it began, de Blasio's moment of public pique appears to have passed.

On Monday, he put away his suddenly sharp elbows, saying that he and Cuomo had "clarifying conversations" and had found "common ground" on a number of issues currently being debated by the state Legislature, even though neither man appeared to shift any policy positions. He singled out Cuomo's support for the extension of mayoral control of the city's school system, even though the governor has held that position for months.

"I am pleased to see the governor reaffirm his support for the three-year extension of mayoral control of education," de Blasio said. "I think that's very helpful, very constructive. And I think we can work together to get things done."

Cuomo may have extended the first olive branch in a radio interview Monday hours before de Blasio's City Hall news conference, saying his fellow Democrat is "a tough advocate and I wouldn't respect him if he wasn't. I've known him 30 years, he's a personal friend."

"Our personal relationship is not an issue," Cuomo continued. "Bill and I are going to be friends after these jobs are over. That is not to say that I am not going to fight like a Trojan for what I believe."

The mayor downplayed the weekend he spent fighting back against Cuomo, his would-be ally who often has played the part of a bully more than 20 years after they worked together in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"(It was) in the vein of I call them like I see them," de Blasio. "And I'm someone who's always looking for a constructive way forward, so I'll speak my mind in each occasion."

But those moments — at least in public — have been rare for de Blasio, who prefers reaching decisions by consensus rather than confrontation.

His sudden willingness to voice his frustration with Cuomo began after a failed lobbying trip to Albany last week. On Friday, the mayor said in a TV interview that he was "surprised that (Cuomo) wasn't acting like a partner" in the mayor's push to change a tax break for developers known as 421a so it would require more affordable housing.

Cuomo fought back, calling the program "a giveaway to the developers" and siding with unions upset that de Blasio wasn't including a mandated prevailing wage for construction workers in the proposal.

That prompted de Blasio to call the governor "disingenuous" during a news conference Saturday. And on Sunday, the mayor — who is to the left of Cuomo on nearly every issue — appeared to second-guess his decision to endorse the governor's re-election bid over a more liberal candidate last year.

"I worked very hard for him. I worked very hard to convince my fellow progressives that they could trust what he said," said de Blasio, who added that he did not have "any reasonable explanation" why Cuomo has opposed his plan. Cuomo has not put forth a counterproposal, and many observers believe the current 421a plan will simply be extended as the clock runs out on the legislative session.

And as the feud cooled, at least temporarily, one interested party did not say whether he'd appeal to a higher power to preserve the peace.

"I like them both," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, laughing at the question during a lobbying trip to Albany. "I get along with them both."


Associated Press writer David Klepper in Albany, New York, contributed to this report.


Contact the author on Twitter @JonLemire

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