Mayor Adams made the case Friday that he is only drawing criticism for hiring his brother and a scandal-scarred ex-cop because they’re “blue-collar people” who typically are not in the upper echelons of city government.
Scrutiny has mounted in recent days over the mayor’s decision to put his younger brother, Bernard Adams, in charge of his security detail, and tapping Philip Banks, a retired NYPD chief once engulfed in a corruption scandal, as his top public safety deputy.
But at a press conference in Queens Friday morning, Adams claimed there’s a double standard because his appointments grew up working class.
“It’s very fascinating to me: When other mayors hired their law partners, they hired people they knew from school that they came up through the ranks with, there was nothing to say about it,” Adams said.
“But I had the audacity to hire blue-collar people, everyday folks who are union members, retired members — it’s like, ‘Who you think you are putting these blue-collar rookies, these everyday people who came here to this country, eked out a living, went to school at night, you know, who do you think you are thinking you could do that?’”
Despite Hizzoner’s defense, government watchdogs have mostly raised concerns about the Bernard Adams and Banks picks because the former appears to violate city ethics law while the latter involves an individual embroiled in one of the worst public corruption scandals in modern New York history.
Under the City Charter, municipal government officials, including the mayor, are barred from providing any form of financial gain for relatives, and Bernard Adams is likely covered by that prohibition.
Still, Adams earlier this week installed his brother as the executive director of mayoral security, an NYPD post that comes with a $210,000 salary.
Aware of the ethics law, Adams has said he’s seeking a waiver from the city Conflicts of Interest Board to be able to hire his sibling and reiterated Friday that he will comply if the agency determines he can’t make the intra-family appointment.
“We’re so lucky to have an entity in New York City that does an analysis of the behavior of those who are elected or those who are civil service or public employees and determine if something is done correctly,” he said.
“And I’m also happy you know, listen, I am blessed to have a brother who’s qualified, who’s smart, who has excellent credentials, who has the ability to protect his brother.”
Unlike Bernard Adams’ appointment, Banks’ role as deputy mayor of public safety is not in dispute, and the Daily News spotted him at City Hall on Thursday chatting with NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
The Banks pick has outraged some police reform advocates and ethics watchdogs who note that the ex-NYPD chief was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a sprawling public corruption scandal in which two crooked businessmen bribed top police and city officials in exchange for favors and access. Separately, Banks was accused of being connected to an illegal liquor distribution ring.
While Banks was never charged with a crime, the corruption probe resulted in prison stints for some of his close friends, including disgraced ex-jails union boss Norman Seabrook.
In spite of his history, Banks will as deputy mayor of public safety have major influence over NYPD operations — and Adams said Friday that’s because he values his “talents.”
“I’m going to hire the best people for the job that I’ve known throughout my years in government and their talents,” said Adams, who served under Banks while in the NYPD. “And the reason I can do that is because I’m the mayor. I’m the mayor of the city of New York, and it’s going to take a while before people realize that.”
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