Following the sudden departure of the chief of staff to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, one city councilwoman charged today that the staffer, Rachel Noerdlinger, was the victim of a conspiracy against prominent women of color.
“Today, I was very proud in my district to join with so many of our colleagues to announce that we were launching 3,000 jobs that are gonna be happening in Brooklyn, New York but unfortunately at that time, questions were consumed over … Rachel Noerdlinger’s status with the first lady,” Ms. Cumbo, a Democrat, said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall.
Ms. Cumbo claimed Ms. Noerdlinger, who announced she was taking a leave of absence this morning after months of controversy surrounding the criminal past of her boyfriend and the recent arrest of her teenage son, is just one more minority woman–like Ms. Cumbo, Ms. Noerdlinger and Mr. de Blasio’s wife are black–who has been victimized by racially-motivated scrutiny.
“I look at these attacks that have been happening on women of color. Upon coming into office, we saw that attack on our first lady in terms of her role as a mother and a wife in the city government,” she added.
Ms. Cumbo then referred to the pile of negative reports that accompanied Latina Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s successful bid for speaker last year: “Prior to that, we saw an attack on our speaker when she was running for the position of speaker of the New York City Council, a vicious attack that we have seen like none other.”
Ms. Cumbo even chalked up a newspaper report about public advocate Letita James’ lax public schedule as another example of underlying discrimination against powerful minority women. (Ms. James, Ms. Cumbo’s predecessor in the City Council, is black.)
“Subsequently we’ve seen attacks on our public advocate, articles in the paper that are talking about her work ethic and whether or not she appears at work. There appears to be this growing, growing attack particularly on women of color,” Ms. Cumbo said.
Ms. Cumbo appeared with Mr. de Blasio this morning to make an announcement about manufacturing at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. After Mr. de Blasio took his first question about Ms. Noerdlinger’s leave of absence, Ms. Cumbo asked the mayor if she could speak up as well.
Mr. de Blasio said no.
Jillian Jorgensen contributed reporting.