De Blasio's Wife Enjoys Taxpayer-Funded $2M Staff of 14 Amid NYC Budget Crisis
Trash piles up on New York City streets, medical workers prepare for layoffs, NYPD slashed
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's unelected wife has been branded a "disgrace" after it emerged that she is spending $2 million a year in taxpayer money to keep a staff of 14 people as NYC spirals into a budget crisis.
As New York's emergency medical workers prepare for layoffs, trash piles up in the streets, 22,000 city workers face job losses, and crime is soaring amid NYPD budget cuts, NYC's First Lady Chirlane McCray spent $70,000 in tax dollars to hire a videographer to film her baking cookies.
McCray, who is mulling a run for Brooklyn borough president, enjoys a core team of eight full-time staff who cost the city a combined $1.1 million in annual salaries, according to a recent list provided to The New York Post following a Freedom of Information Law request filed in October 2019.
However, the Democrat mayor's wife also has at least another six staff who do not feature on the official roster, taking her total workforce to 14 with a hefty price tag of $2 million, sources at the Mayor's Office told The City.
While the mayor's wife has a considerable team - despite not being officially employed by the city government - her husband has sounded repeated warnings that a staggering 22,000 workers could lose their jobs in the fall due to the toll the pandemic has taken on the city's budget.
This comes after de Blasio has already axed $1 billion from the NYPD budget amid a surge in crime and made cuts to essential public services.
“Whatever happened to the money from ThriveNYC?” asked City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens).
“How much taxpayer money will the mayor’s wife pilfer before leaving office?
"How can she sleep at night hiring these hacks knowing so many other city workers are facing layoffs this fall?
"This is a disgrace!” Ulrich fumed.
Despite the city facing layoffs of 22,000 municipal workers over the coronavirus-induced budget crisis, McCray has a core team of eight staffers.
There’s a $117,000-a-year speechwriter, even though McCray held that same position under former Mayor David Dinkins, and a $150,000-a-year senior adviser who was recruited in April after de Blasio announced a hiring freeze to help close a $7 billion deficit caused by the coronavirus.
But she has at least six other city employees deputized to her office from other public agencies, as was first reported by The City.
That makes a robust roster of 14 staffers– double the amount she had in 2018.
They include the $70,000 videographer McCray brought on in February.
The shooter, who is listed as a Department of Health employee in city records, filmed the first lady making ginger snaps on April 2 during the coronavirus lockdown.
Other members of the shadow staff who participated in a “Team Lunch” in The Bronx in January 2019, according to McCray’s public schedule, are a $143,000-a-year public relations director, also from the Department of Health, and a special assistant from the mayor’s office who makes $115,000.
Then there’s the $130,000 “executive program specialist” from the Dept. of Social Services and $65,000 “associate director of advance” to the first lady.
Still, City Hall spokeswoman Chanel Caraway on Tuesday defended the McCray team even as the mayor has said there’s no money to pick up overflowing waste bins or maintain the city’s parks.
In fact, said Caraway, New Yorkers should be thanking McCray’s staff for their contributions.
“The First Lady manages a robust portfolio and her team works tirelessly to carry out goals and priorities on issues like mental health and domestic violence that will improve the lives of New Yorkers,” she said.
“As the City navigates unprecedented challenges triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, these public servants continue to show up every day to deliver solutions that reach into every neighborhood and family, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” Caraway said.
Despite its ranks and generous salaries, the team hasn’t posted an update to McCray’s public schedule since last year.
She is considering a run for Brooklyn borough president during the mayor’s last year in office.
Fellow contender, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), slammed the spending.
“With over 22,000 layoffs of city workers looming, the mayor can’t seriously expect to keep funding full-time, highly paid speechwriters and professional videographers for his wife’s political ambitions,” Reynoso said.
"It’s wrong, and it needs to stop."