Reeling from criticism over a six-inch snowstorm that brought the city to a standstill, Mayor Bill de Blasio has fired the commissioner of emergency management for the botched response.
Joseph Esposito was asked to resign on Friday by Laura Anglin, the deputy mayor for operations. When he refused, according to The Wall Street Journal, he was told he was fired. But he is still unsure if the firing was ordered by the mayor, who is in Vermont for a weekend event with Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I’m in the office now,” he told a New York Times reporter Monday morning.
De Blasio had been widely criticized for the response to the snowstorm in November. Thousands of commuters were stuck for hours on trips that should have taken 30 minutes. A Bronx road came to a standstill for up to ten hours and drivers slept in their cars.
The mayor blamed it alternatively on a traffic pile-up on the George Washington Bridge, fallen trees, “lousy forecasting” and “the perfect storm.” He now blames it on Esposito, who had been on vacation during the storm. The Office of Emergency Management chief says he was monitoring the storm while away.
A reporter stood at the Park Slope gym frequented by de Blasio this morning and asked if Esposito was fired. The mayor did not respond.
There appeared to be an outpouring of support for Esposito on Monday as news broke of his alleged firing.
“Just this morning, I sent an email to [Esposito and his deputy, Christina Farrell] to thank them for their great work yesterday & consistent responsiveness,” tweeted Councilman Chaim Deutsch. “I am completely stunned that Commissioner Esposito has been asked to resign. Time & again, he has proven himself to be excellent at his job.”
Gloria Pazmino, a reporter for Politico, tweeted that “In the last hour, members of the @NYCCouncil have stopped into R9 to voice support for [Esposito]. … Total possibility Deputy Mayor fired him without getting the blessing of @NYCMayor first. Will the mayor stand by his deputy?”