There’s no money for regular trash pickups or to maintain city parks, but Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife enjoys a 14-member staff — including a $70,000 videographer who captured her baking cookies during the pandemic.
Some of the Chirlane McCray staffers, who cost city taxpayers nearly $2 million a year combined, work for the first lady’s $1.25 billion mental health initiative ThriveNYC, which has come under fire for its lack of metrics.
“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.
McCray has a core team of eight staffers, according to a recent list provided to The Post following a Freedom of Information Law request filed in October 2019. This is despite the city facing layoffs of 22,000 municipal workers over the coronavirus-induced budget crisis.
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.
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 14: Chirlane McCray and Mayor of New York City and Presidential Candidate Bill de Blasio are seen on August 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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 everyday 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. It’s wrong, and it needs to stop,” Reynoso said.