People may be avoiding de Blasio’s birthday party; is it a sign of desertion?

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WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — His name was already associated with multiple investigations, and now, Mayor Bill de Blasio faces a lawsuit against over one of his signature initiatives.

In addition, it's been a challenge for him to get guests to commit to his birthday party fundraiser this week at the Brooklyn Bowl. It could be an indication that the legal scrutiny that de Blasio is under is having an effect on donors and allies.

On Monday, the mayor began the day at a conference hosted by politico and publisher Arianna Huffington in which he announced a new online initiative called the "Digital Playbook," designed to give city residents more information about, and access to, city services.

"We see many elements of our government... that feel rigged to people," de Blasio said in introducing the Digital Playbook. "The way to fight that," he said, "is to open things up."

Ironically, though, at the event, the mayor was officially taking no off-topic questions. That meant that there was no asking about the other major development regarding de Blasio on Monday.

The city's management employees association announced a lawsuit against Mayor de Blasio in the afternoon. It contends that his new parental leave policy discriminates against older workers.

That's an unfortunate development for the mayor, but when it's added to the five different investigations of the de Blasio Administration by federal, state and local authorities, the situation goes beyond the realm of misfortune.

"It takes a lot of time and energy away from your job," said Iona College political science professor and PIX11 analyst Jeanne Zaino. "When you've got to have the whole administration fighting off these allegations, fighting off these charges."

And then there's the birthday party. It's scheduled to be held at Brooklyn Bowl, a very popular venue in this trendy neighborhood. The city's first lady, Chirlaine McCray, has emailed the invitations for the birthday fundraiser, which is intended to help finance the mayor's reelection campaign next year.

Even though the bowling and concert venue doesn't have capacity for more than 700 people and the headliner is popular comedian and de Blasio's friend Louis C.K., the event was far from sold out.

"You've got to wonder what's going on with that," Zaino said. "A similar issue is will he have a prominent role at the Democratic convention in July?"