Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that he has put First Lady Chirlane McCray in charge of a special coronavirus task force — insisting her work with her embattled ThriveNYC initiative made her perfect for the new job.
McCray will work with Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson in leading a task force on racial inclusion and equity to make sure the Big Apple rebounds as a “better and more just society than the one we left behind,” Hizzoner said.
The mayor insisted that the First Lady deserved her place at the head of the new initiative because of the ideas she generated — defying critics and praising her work with her $250 million-a-year mental health plan.
“In terms of fighting inequality, Thrive has gone to that point and in many ways even farther,” he insisted, praising his wife’s work in “putting a light” to serious issues, making her an obvious choice for the new role.
“I think that’s exactly the kind of mindset needed for this task force,” he insisted of his 65-year-old wife.
Critics have charged that McCray’s ThriveNYC program is both ineffective and ripe for abuse as a political cudgel.
The racial inequality task force, meanwhile, was one of a series of working groups being set up to help prepare the Big Apple to reopen after the lockdown, the Mayor announced, saying they will start meeting “in a matter of days.”
The crisis has highlighted the “many things that are broken in our city and in our country,” Hizzoner insisted at Sunday’s press briefing, calling it a “clarion call” for change.
“We don’t just need a recovery, we need a transformation,” he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the task force would be given a budget — or whether McCray would draw a salary.
The city’s black and Latin communities are particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, statistics released by City Hall show.
He also insisted that the city would not rush to reopen, saying he was “worried” for other states moving too quickly.
As well as “running a risk is endangering their own people,” they also risked it “backfiring” and having prolonged lockdowns once the contagion reasserts itself, he said.
“We won’t let that happen here,” he stressed, refusing to be drawn on an exact timescale of the lockdown getting lifted.
“There is in my mind also no question that New York City will come back strong — stronger than ever. This is what New York City does this is who we are,” he insisted.
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