While Mayor Bill de Blasio adopted a “See No Evil, Hear no Evil” approach to his administration’s dysfunctional response to the coronavirus Friday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson lashed into City Hall for its infighting, saying, “New Yorkers deserve better.”
At a Council oversight hearing on the administration’s handling of the test and trace program, Johnson decried the “serious dysfunction playing out behind the scenes” in the mayor’s office “at a time when New Yorkers desperately need to have confidence in their city government.”
“That confidence is being eroded daily by leaks and agency vs. agency infighting. The future of this city is literally hanging in the balance. Enough is enough. New Yorkers deserve better,” Johnson fumed.
The council speaker is probing de Blasio’s decision to put Health + Hospitals in charge of the city’s crucial new coronavirus testing program, instead of the Health Department, which has handled similar responsibilities in the past.
The move comes amid savage backbiting between the mayor, his Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz and NYPD Chief Terrence Monahan over the city’s handling of the pandemic that’s taken the lives of over 20,000 New Yorkers.
The mayor admitted at his daily coronavirus briefing Friday he hadn’t spoken to Barbot for a “couple of days” and Katz acknowledged during the hearing he hadn’t talked to the health commissioner in three days.
Still, de Blasio insisted he “wasn’t informed” that Barbot told Monahan in March she didn’t “give two rats’ asses” about the NYPD’s need for masks. He claimed ignorance even though Monahan told The New York Times he immediately reported the confrontation to the mayor’s office and the health commissioner called him to apologize.
Somehow de Blasio knew enough about the dispute to intervene and get masks to the police.
De Blasio also claimed Friday he hadn’t seen a disturbing photo of homeless men sleeping just inches apart on the stairs of the Bellevue Men’s Shelter — even though The Post, NY1 and other outlets published the image Thursday. Instead he’s insisted his effort to get the homeless out of the subways during the crisis is a “historic success.”
Last week, Hizzoner deployed the same convenient “See No Evil” tactic when a Post reporter asked about virtual meeting in April when Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza told the Association of Latino Supervisor and Superintendents, “Never waste a good crisis to transform a system.”
“I don’t know the specific panel discussion you’re talking about, so I can’t respond to comments,” de Blasio said on May 7.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) also decried the administration’s internecine warfare that’s spilled into the public in recent days as the city remains largely shutdown.
“I am disappointed that two our two health related agencies have had their infighting exposed in The New York Times, Politico and other media outlets,” Rivera said at Friday’s hearing.
“I am disappointed that the de Blasio administration decided that the middle of a pandemic was the best time to institute a bureaucratic reshuffling that potentially creates new and unnecessary obstacles for the the critical, complicated and sensitive work of contact tracing.”
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