New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has named his wife, Chirlane McCray, to head the newly created Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity regarding the coronavirus, despite past controversy over how McCray, who is black, led the ThriveNYC initiative to address mental illness.
The task force comes in response to the high number of black Americans dying from the coronavirus, many of whom had underlying health issues.
“The economic and racial disparities that have been made so clear by this crisis, we knew about them before,” de Blasio said in a New York Post article published Sunday. “A powerful, painful exclamation point has been put on them by this crisis.”
The newspaper reported that making the city more equitable was one of de Blasio’s campaign promises before his election as mayor six years ago:
Citing her work with the ThriveNYC initiative, de Blasio revealed Sunday that first lady Chirlane McCray, a rumored contender for Brooklyn borough president, would co-chair a Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity as the city plans its eventual reopening.
New York’s poorest ZIP codes have been hardest hit by the pandemic, city data show, and minorities — many among the city’s essential workers — have died at disproportionately higher rates.
But city lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were scratching their heads over the appointment of McCray in light of her signature Thrive program, criticized as a billion-dollar money pit with a dubious record of results.
“Chirlane doesn’t have an impressive track record running task forces or agencies,” said Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI), who has fought City Hall over Thrive’s alleged lack of help for the NYPD and cops committing suicides. “This is too serious an issue to use it as profile raiser.”
Councilman Robert Holden said in the Post report that her appointment “reeks of political calculation by the mayor to up McCray’s visibility ahead of a widely rumored run for Beep [president of the Brooklyn borough].”
“This is political,” Holden, a Democrat, said. “I wish de Blasio would stop doing this.”
“Let her win the Brooklyn borough presidency on her own merits,” Holden said, adding, “Her track record on Thrive and the statue commission hasn’t been so good.”
“Putting @NYCFirstLady in charge of the newly created task force on racial inclusion and equity is a great idea, – said No One Ever,” Councilman Eric Ulrich, a Queens Republican, tweeted on Sunday. “By the way, what ever happened to all that money for ThriveNYC?”
“The initiative has been beset for years by criticism over its 10-digit price tag and failure to make appreciable headway in helping New York’s mentally ill,” the Post reported.
The new task force will work to ensure “hardest-hit communities as well as minority- and women-owned businesses get their fair share of help as the city rebuilds from the pandemic.”