The wife of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray, has, in addition to the eight full-time workers on her staff, “a shadow staff of at least six full-time workers who don’t appear on her official roster,” The City reports. Those 14 people, including a $70,000 videographer who videotaped McCray baking cookies, amounted to a payroll of roughly $2 million per year, the report states.
“Asked for a list of her current staff members, McCray’s office last month provided the names of eight full-time employees who together collect roughly $1.1 million in salaries through the office of the mayor. But according to current and former employees in the Mayor’s Office, as well as public records, McCray’s staff count has actually been 15 throughout much of 2020, with a collective payroll that’s closer to $2 million. A recent departure brought the staff ranks down to 14,” The City added.
McCray is reportedly considering a run for Brooklyn borough president.
“Her team also includes $150,000-a-year senior adviser Dabash Negash, 33, who was recruited in April — at the height of the pandemic and just one week after de Blasio announced a hiring freeze to help close a $7.4 billion deficit caused by the pandemic,” the Daily Mail reported.
Other reported members of McCray’s staff: a $117,000-a-year speechwriter, a $150,000-a-year senior adviser, a $143,000-a-year public relations director and a special assistant from the mayor’s office who makes $115,000.
City Councilman Eric Ulrich called McCray’s use of the large staff a “disgrace,” as he told the New York Post, “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!”
But City Hall spokeswoman Chanel Caraway rebuffed the idea that there was anything amiss, telling the Post, “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. As the City navigates unprecedented challenges triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, these public servants continue to show up everyday to deliver solutions that reach into every neighborhood and family, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
While McCray enjoys the apparent perks that come from being New York City’s First Lady, her husband is considering laying off up to 22,000 municipal workers in October and has already cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget. “For weeks, he has been warning that, come October, approximately 22,000 city workers could lose their jobs because of the deepening fiscal crisis the city is facing … In June, he cut the city’s budget by $4.7 billion, from $92.8 billion to $88.1 billion,” The New York Daily News reported on August 16.
De Blasio said, “If you’ve got to keep cutting and keep cutting, it has to, at some point, reach personnel. That’s just the pure logic of budgets, and it’s a very sad logic. So that 22,000 number is painfully real.”