Being the Mayor’s Wife Shouldn’t Be a Paying Job

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking to his wife, Chirlane McCray, at a ceremony at City Hall in November. Credit Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis, via Getty Images

No doubt, Mayor Bill de Blasio convinced himself that he was raising consciousness. But mostly he raised eyebrows, sky high, with a lament that his wife, Chirlane McCray, isn’t allowed to collect a paycheck on the taxpayer’s dime.

“I don’t understand it,” he said the other day, “because if someone is working full time and is a professional with a whole lot of background and applying themselves, I don’t understand why they can’t get paid.”

Let’s explain it to him. It’s called nepotism, and it’s clearly outlawed under the City Charter, New York’s equivalent of a constitution. Right there in Chapter 68 it forbids public servants to use their position “to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant.” Ms. McCray, married to Mr. de Blasio since 1994, surely qualifies as a person associated with a public servant.

Not that the mayor has to be told this. He acknowledged there were “good historical reasons” for the proscription. He just thinks it’s unfair that it applies to his family, considering how involved Ms. McCray is in policymaking and vetting top officials in their, er, his administration.

Much as the White House has never had a presidential daughter and son-in-law with the power of the ones there now, New York has never had a first spouse like Ms. McCray. She tends to share center stage when her husband has something of consequence to announce, like the appointment last week of Richard Carranza as schools chancellor. Mr. de Blasio thanked her for her efforts in the selection before thanking his first deputy mayor, Dean Fuleihan.

Last month, a City Hall news release said, “Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray Appoint J. Phillip Thompson as Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.” Cue the raised eyebrows. Ms. McCray has no power to appoint anyone. The mayor’s press office changed “appoint” to “announce.”

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2018-03-12 19:28:57
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