NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city has a new supply czar amid questions about how the millions of pieces of healthcare and safety gear pouring into the five boroughs are being distributed.

As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, he’s someone you might recognize.

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It was a simple question for James O’Neill, who, four months ago, was the city’s police commissioner.

“What compelled the mayor to decide he needed the position?” Kramer asked.

“He just wants to ensure that whatever emergency medical equipment that we get, whether it’s masks, gowns, goggles, booties, ventilators, that it’s going to the right places, it’s being physically secured, and we can track the usage,” O’Neill answered.


But sources close to Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS2 that he jumped quickly to name a supply czar after President Donald Trump insinuated that supplies sent to New York City were somehow walking out the back door.

“So was this at all the mayor being sensitive to the charges of President Trump?” Kramer asked.

“I think this is a process of this whole system maturing. Obviously, the city had to get up to speed in a hurry,” O’Neill said.

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Apparently, the move happened quickly.

On Tuesday, O’Neill told de Blasio he was coming back to the city and wanted to help. The next morning, the mayor made the offer.

Sources said he told new NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, but it reportedly caught hospital officials and the Health Department by surprise.

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O’Neill said his first job is to assemble a team. He intends to take some people from the NYPD and some from other agencies.

“The mayor is giving me the opportunity to assemble a really good team, people that are good at project management, people that do this for a living, people that are good at actually going out and talking to people and checking on supplies,” O’Neill said.

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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so Mayor de Blasio should consider himself flattered by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who fired off a letter to the president asking him to name his own supply czar.