Mayor Adams needs to reassess pricey ‘special assistants’ while the city is cash-strapped

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How many “special assistants” does one mayor need?

Mayor Adams had 293 of them on the city’s payroll in his first fiscal year in office — up 20% over the already-bloated number under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

These “assistants” aren’t subject to regular civil-service rules and answer only to the mayor.

Yes, Adams has done a decent job of keeping the city’s overall employee headcount down: As of October 2023, it was about 305,000 — a drop of 22,000 from 2019.

And the Citizens Budget Commission reports he’s cut the number of budgeted positions by nearly 10,000.

But that doesn’t make the “special” explosion OK: This cadre costs the taxpayers $24.3 million a year, with 85 of the “assistants” making six figures and 13 of them more than $200,000.

Notably, as under de Blasio, several of the “specials” are political operatives linked to the mayor’s campaign, suggesting this is less about making city government function and more about getting paychecks to them between elections — saving campaign funds at the public’s expense.

This, when core city services including the NYPD are suffering cuts.

And one “special assistant” raking in more than $200,000 is Edward Mermelstein, an Adams donor.

If the rest of city government must be slashed, Mr. Mayor, you’d be wise to set an example by getting rid of a good chunk of your own insider hires: Surely you can make do with fewer personal operatives than Bill de Blasio.



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