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The wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is being ripped as a “disgrace” over a staff of 14 people including a $70,000-a-year videographer as the NYPD faces $1 billion in budget cuts and tens of thousands of city workers face job losses due to COVID-19-related tax revenue losses.
As trash piles up around the city and crime soars, Chirlane McCray is coming under scrutiny for her extravagance, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday, noting that her staff ‘officially’ costs taxpayers $1.1 million a year and that the videographer once filmed her baking cookies.
Sources within the mayor’s office told The City, however, that McCray, who is considering running for Brooklyn borough president, also has an additional staff of six people who are not listed on official employment rosters, bringing their total salaries to $2 million.
Complaints about McCray’s staff come as her husband has repeatedly warned that 22,000 city workers could be furloughed by the fall due to massive losses of revenue thanks to De Blasio’s coronavirus-related lockdown of most businesses.
Also, criticism comes amid De Blasio’s pledge to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget amid a soaring crime rate, as well as reductions to other vital public services.
According to NYPD statistics, murders have risen 58 percent over the last month alone in comparison to the same period last year. Meanwhile, shootings have skyrocketed 176 percent and burglaries 25 percent.
At the same time, massive business closures have led to a steep rise in unemployment followed by a lack of new opportunities for job seekers. Support services like mass transit have also been shut down due to COVID-19 concerns, the Daily Mail added, noting that homeless camps are springing up throughout Manhattan.
To offset the losses, de Blasio — who has a reported net worth of about $2.5 million — has floated raising taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents, a typical Democrat response. But hundreds of thousands of residents including many of the wealthiest have already fled the city and are not likely to return, especially if they will be stuck with new tax increases.
“Drastic budget cuts have been made to essential services leaving the city’s streets and parks – not long ago a hive of urban activity – dirty and overflowing with rubbish,” the Daily Mail noted further.
While services have been cut and job losses to rank-and-file city workers seem imminent, that doesn’t appear to be the case with McCray’s staff. In addition to a videographer, her staff also consists of a $117,000-a-year speechwriter and a $150,000-a-year senior adviser.
In fact, the Daily Mail notes, senior adviser Dabash Negash was hired in April at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in the city and only one week after De Blasio implemented a hiring freeze to help deal with an estimated budget deficit of about $7.4 billion.
McCray’s spokesperson told The City that hiring for her staff was already in the pipeline when the pandemic hit.
“Maddening. Hypocritical. NYC Mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray’s, $2M staff of 14 amid NYC budget crisis,” one city resident wrote on Twitter.
“Lock her up! What a disgrace,” another wrote.
City officials defended McCray’s staff and even suggested they were a benefit to NYC — as trash continues to pile up on corners and in parks because there is no money to pay for its removal.
“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,” City Hall spokeswoman Chanel Caraway said, according to the Post.
“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.”
In a blog post this week, angel investor James Altrucher, who owns a comedy club in the city, claimed New York was “dead.”
“Every subculture I loved was in NYC. I could play chess all day and night. I could go to comedy clubs. I could start any type of business. I could meet people. I had family, friends, opportunities. No matter what happened to me, NYC was a net I could fall back on and bounce back up,” he wrote.
“Now it’s completely dead.”
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