Mayor Eric Adams's newsletter—which, depending on your level of credulity, is either a brilliant end run around an irrationally uncharitable press corps, allowing the mayor to speak directly to the people, or just another press release that nobody but City Hall reporters read—contained an announcement on Thursday: The Deputy Mayor for Public Safety "will be hosting regular public safety briefings to the public," starting today at noon.
This might not seem particularly newsworthy or interesting, but for the fact that the deputy mayor for public safety is Philip Banks, who has spent the first year of his term skulking mostly out of sight "to avoid questions of his past involvement with a wide-ranging federal public corruption investigation into favor-trading," as City Hall sources told Bloomberg last year for a feature titled "NYC Mayor Eric Adams's Crime-Fighting Aide Avoids Spotlight After NYPD Scandal." The story noted that "federal prosecutors labeled the former NYPD chief of department an unindicted co-conspirator" in that probe.
If you need a refresher on unindicted co-conspirator Phil Banks, the Bloomberg story is a great place to start. It outlines the picture painted by federal prosecutors of a situation in which two Brooklyn businessmen, Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, plied Banks with expensive weekly dinners, NBA tickets, trips to Israel and the Dominican Republic, and $25,000 in "investment proceeds," and how Banks, in turn, provided them with police escorts; parking at police headquarters; a gold card reading “Family Member of Chief Philip Banks III,” which prosecutors said could be used to get special treatment from police; and, according to Rechnitz's court testimony, the promotion of a police officer Reichberg and and Rechnitz had asked Banks to elevate.
Banks has said in the press that he didn't break the law or break the public trust. He told the court presiding over the corruption trial that if he were called to testify, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
In any case, you can see why unindicted co-conspirator Banks might shy away from the limelight, working out of an office away from City Hall.
But now, after a long year keeping mostly out of public view, it appears that Banks is counting on New Yorkers having gotten used to having an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case as our deputy mayor of public safety—and he's ready to start showing his face some more.
If you'd like to ask the unindicted co-conspirator and deputy mayor some questions—such as why a man who has already demonstrated his willingness to sell his public duties out for all-expenses-paid trips to the Dominican Republic is now presiding over a massive portfolio of some of the City's most critical public services—you can submit your question in advance here.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in New York…
- Be advised that your mayor is ordained by God.
- Forced to start tracking its traffic stops by a 2021 City Council law, the NYPD has released its first data on stops—and 90 percent of the people it searched or arrested are Black or Latino.
- Stephen Wong, a top aide to Councilmember Christopher Marte, called up a reporter to call her a "cunt pig" and other extremely inappropriate things, according to a complaint. Marte's chief of staff says "she expects Wong will be reprimanded."
- Wait, I thought millionaires were fleeing New York? Huh.
- New York Times staffers who signed a letter asking for less misleading reporting on trans reporting are being called into investigatory meetings and disciplinary proceedings are on the way, but if you think this sounds like something the union should be involved in, there's a bunch of Times writers who signed a letter against letter-signing who know you're wrong.
- Charles Koch's daughter's publicist worked NYT writer Brooks Barnes so hard that he finally broke down and wrote a 2,600-word profile of her and her business, which he assures us, I think unironically, is affiliated with "serious people."
- Your job is almost certainly tedious and stupid, but Maxine Montello feeds sea turtles and applies manuka honey to any wounds on their shells to assist in the healing process. At least you can read about her daily routine and look at these amazing pictures of life and the New York Marine Rescue Center.
- And finally, something nice to start your day: