NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Does he still have a job or not?
It appeared that New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) commissioner had lost his job, taking the blame for the city’s failures in November’s snowstorm. That seemed to be the case, right up until CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer confirmed Joe Esposito showed up for work Monday after refusing a request to resign.
Now, hours after full-scale outrage from the City Council, Mayor de Blasio is apparently trying to walk back the decision.
Esposito was called into a meeting Friday about the November 15 snowstorm that caused gridlock across the city, according to published reports. During the meeting, the deputy mayor of operations reportedly ordered him to step down.
Mayor Bill de Blasio went out of town over the weekend and never called Esposito himself, Kramer reported.
Esposito has been with the Office of Emergency Management since 2014. He previously retired from the NYPD, where he was the longest serving chief of department.
City Council Speaker Cory Johnson reacted on Twitter, saying, “While there were clearly MAJOR issues as it related to the snow storm – I’m a little shocked that Esposito is being fired. The Admin did not explicitly place blame on OEM in the days after the storm or at our Council hearing.”
“My experience with Commissioner Esposito and his team has been a great one and I hear this from other Council Members as well. They are responsive, communicative, and helpful when local disasters hit. I hope this isn’t true. Esposito is one of the competent folks in City government,” he added.
A letter was sent to de Blasio by the City Council, pressuring the mayor to reverse the poorly communicated decision. Late Monday evening the mayor’s office released statement, backing down from Esposito’s firing, but stating they’re looking for a replacement.
“We have started the process of leadership change at New York City Emergency Management. Commissioner Joe Esposito will continue to lead OEM as we conduct a national search for his successor. It is impossible to overstate Commissioner Esposito’s significant contributions to our city’s safety while at OEM and the NYPD. We look forward to exploring additional opportunities for Commissioner Esposito to remain in the administration.”
“Joe Esposito is a one of the most respected public servants in city government. I find this attempt to scapegoat him to be shameful,” Bronx councilman Ritchie Torres told CBS2.
“I think it’s completely outrageous… Commisisoner Esposito made none of the decisions that led to the exasperations of some of the problems we had, yet he seems to be the one getting scapegoated,” councilman Joseph Borelli added.
Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio and Department of Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia have repeatedly refused to apologize to New Yorkers for the widespread chaos which unfolded on Nov. 15.