There’s a growing frustration among New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior aides, who fault him for dithering instead of making decisions, micromanaging instead of leading, and insisting, like all liberals seem to do, that he knows best instead of listening to others, three sources said.
‘Thank god for Cuomo,’ is a common refrain among the mayor’s staff, made only partly in jest, sources said.
That’s because Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken the lead on the city’s COVID-19 response — canceling the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, shutting down large venues including Broadway, and even pushing the mayor to close public schools.
But instead of the big picture, the head of the City that Never Sleeps has insisted on proofing all public materials about the city’s COVID-19 response from press releases to ad campaigns, one source said.
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“Instead of micromanaging his team he should be leading right now,” the source said.
And the mayor has tossed aside advice from staffers along the way. Staff repeatedly warned the mayor that prematurely announcing a possible shelter-in-place order Tuesday would cause unnecessary panic.
“He can’t handle the word ‘No,’ and it runs people down,” the source said.
“He is dismissive of everyone’s opinion around him,” added a second source.
“It’s very much his way or the highway in moments of crisis and he thinks he knows best,” the second source noted.
De Blasio described what a shelter-in-place order would look like for New York City at a City Hall press briefing and even refused to rule out a ban on travel out of the Big Apple.
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“There’s not going to be any, ‘You must stay in your house,’ rule,” Cuomo said, calling the mayor’s remarks “counterproductive.”
The governor explained that he wanted to craft a statewide plan before shutting down non-essential business in the Big Apple.
The governor eventually announced a statewide lockdown Friday, three days later.
Tensions are also frayed between de Blasio and many of his longtime aides. His chief of staff Emma Wolfe is one of the only people at City Hall who has any influence over the mayor.
“She is pushing back a lot harder than she normally does with him,” the second source said.
“Emma is an operative to the core and she has a relationship with the governor’s office. They respect her game and her political mind. She is able to forecast in terms of moves the governor’s office is going to make well before the mayor.
“She sees the need to be decisive in a moment like this and he doesn’t so she’s pushed him to get there,” the second source added.
The NY Post previously reported tensions between the mayor and senior health department officials including the city’s top doctor, Commissioner Oxiris Barbot.
A third source said de Blasio isn’t delegating decisions, which is why so many major announcements have had to be made by the governor.
The staff is “endlessly frustrated” by the mayor’s disregard for their health and micromanagement, the third source confirmed.
“He is a monster to deal with right now,” the second source explained.
“He’s incredibly condescending. He thinks he has a pulse on the emotions and feelings and concerns of everyday New Yorkers better than his staff, which is remarkable for a guy who lives in a mansion on the Upper East Side,” the source said.
Asked for comment, Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary, said:
“This is an unprecedented crisis.”
“We are talking about massive decisions every day like closing schools for 1.1 million kids and closing businesses that give people their livelihoods. None of this is easy. The mayor gives every member of the team a chance to deliberate, but in the end only he can make decisions like this on behalf of 8.6 million New Yorkers,”