First Lady Chirlane McCray announced that current Gracie Mansion Executive Director Roxanne John will take over the duties of her controversial former chief of staff, Rachel Noerdlinger, working from the mayor’s residence—while a new hire will work as Ms. McCray’s deputy chief of staff from City Hall.
Jackie Bray, a former Obama for America and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffer, will be Ms. McCray’s deputy chief of staff.
“Roxanne’s leadership and expanded portfolio, along with Jackie Bray’s breadth of experience, will bring additional support to implementing the Mayor’s agenda,” said Ms. McCray.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said that Ms. John will keep her current job and split her time between overseeing Gracie Mansion and working for Ms. McCray. She will pick up an additional $25,000 on top of her current $175,000 salary from the city. Ms. Bray—who most recently worked in Washington, D.C. for the climate-studying National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—will earn $125,000.
It will be a net savings for the city of $20,000, as Ms. Noerdlinger was paid at a rate $170,000 a year and Ms. John was already drawing her Gracie Mansion salary. Ms. Noerdlinger, a former spokeswoman for Rev. Al Sharpton, first drew fire when social media posts by her live-in paramour Hassaun McFarlan—whose history as a recidivist ex-convict Ms. Noerdlinger failed to disclose when she took her position—surfaced in which he repeatedly referred to police as “pigs.”
A Department of Investigations probe determined there was no intentional wrongdoing on Ms. Noerdlinger’s part when she failed to reveal the relationship in her Conflict of Interest Board reports, and Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the “case closed.” It was later revealed that Ms. Noerdlinger was in the vehicle when police arrested Mr. McFarlan for driving her car while using marijuana.
The Observer revealed in October that Ms. Noerdlinger had also failed to report a $28,000 federal tax lien against her New Jersey home. The city waived the requirement that staffers reside in the five boroughs because Ms. Noerdlinger claimed her 17-year-old son Khari Noerdlinger, who also posted negative remarks about police online, needed to see a doctor in the Garden State over injuries resulting from a car accident, even though the boy continued to play high school football.
Nonetheless, Mr. de Blasio refused to heed calls from police advocates to relieve Ms. Noerdlinger of her position—until police arrested her teenage son for trespassing in an upper Manhattan building in November, prompting Ms. Noerdlinger of to take an indefinite “leave of absence.”
Some have questioned why Ms. McCray needs a chief-of-staff at all, though Mr. de Blasio has defended retaining the position and other mayors’ wives have employed staffers. Shortly before the announcement regarding Ms. John and Ms. Bray, Ms. McCray tweeted a video highlighting her work with social service groups across the city.
She declared that, with her new staffers, she would continue such outreach in the new year.
“In 2015, we will deepen our focus on issues like mental health, domestic violence and expanding educational opportunities for all our children,” Ms. McCray said.