Chirlane McCray still the only member of panel that will decide fate of NYC monumentsJune 24, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to announce that his wife Chirlane McCray would lead a new Racial Truth and Reconciliation Commission amid fallout last week over his handling of the George Floyd protests — but he’s taking his time to add anyone else to the panel that will have the power to decide the future of historical city monuments.
A City Hall spokeswoman told The Post “members and leadership will be named in the coming weeks.” She added that the mayor is “not being prescriptive with what actions the commissions will ultimately call for” in terms of a monuments review.
Critics have accused de Blasio of using city resources to boost his wife’s political future as she’s expressed interest in running for Brooklyn borough president next year.
Democratic City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr., who is campaigning for the Brooklyn post, blasted the mayor’s handling of the commission.
“To make this one appointment and then leave it open-ended doesn’t suggest the level of commitment that I’d like to see not only as a council member but as a black man in this city who is counting on a solid turn and pivot and not one that is celebratory,” Cornegy said.
He added that there are more qualified people to lead the commission than McCray.
“I’d rather see someone who has a deep historical context and has some connection to academia,” he said, noting there are many prominent professors at the City University of New York who would fit the bill.
Rev. Kevin McCall, a civil rights leader who helped organize the George Floyd rally in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza where de Blasio was booed by participants earlier this month, said he’s advising City Hall about the commission.
“I’ve been in conversation with their office to determine who should be a part of that and what the direction should be,” McCall said.
“Many times we have been screaming at the mayor and protesting at them, but now we at the table being an ally and not just screaming at them,” he said. In an recent New York Times article McCall accused the mayor of turning his back on black constituents.
He told The Post it’s “good to have the mayor’s wife” on the commission “because she has his ear, but now there should be someone else who’d be able to co-chair with her who’d be in the community trenches.”
“Your wife is your wife in terms of the head of it, but let the people decide because this is a time when the people need their voice at the table,” McCall added.
Last week, de Blasio said McCray’s commission will review city statues and structures honoring historic figures tainted by slavery — including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — in addition to examining ties between racism and virtually every facet of the city.
“How many committees and commissions has he assigned his wife to?” quipped a council source, referring to the mayor appointing McCray to head the coronavirus racial inequality task force in April and the She Built NYC project in 2018.
The later, established to balance the male-female mix of statues of prominent New Yorkers, came under fire for ignoring the results of a poll of New Yorkers who overwhelmingly voted to erect a monument to Catholic Saint Mother Cabrini.
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