NYC Mayor Eric Adams hired the girlfriend of NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks, Sheena Wright, to serve deputy mayor, a position that paid $251,982 in 2021. Last December, Adams hired four other women to serve in the role, costing the city more than $1 million, the New York Post reported.
In exchange, Banks appointed the girlfriend of Adams, Tracey Collins, to be a “senior advisor to the deputy chancellor of school leadership.” The advisor role within the city’s Department of Education pays $221,597 per year. She started last July.
Collins will advise Desmond Blackburn, who oversees all 45 superintendents in the New York City’s school system.
A Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center professor of education condemned the arrangement.
“It’s not only a bad look, smacking of favoritism and cronyism,” David Bloomfield said. “It displays a degree of insularity and groupthink that’s adverse to organizational effectiveness.”
Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Styer defended Collins’ appointment, describing her as “a veteran educator with 30 years of experience.” Styer added that Collins replaced a retiring advisor. Banks did not create the position for her.
The Education Department put Collins “through a rigorous process that did not include City Hall’s oversight” before hiring her.
Styer did not disclose how many other applicants filed for the lucrative advisor position, but he said that no other applicants had an opportunity to meet with Banks.
“She was by far the most qualified of all applicants for the position, which is why she was the only finalist presented to the chancellor [Banks],” Styer added.
City Hall spokesman Fabien Levy also defended Adams against charges of favoritism and corruption.
“Mayor Adams was not involved in the hiring for this position and has a strict firewall when it comes to any matters involving her employment,” he said.