An inadvertent whistle or an attempted political hit job.
Either way sources in the Adams administration are saying former Department of Social Services (DSS) press officer Julia Savel – who was a chief strategist in the Maya Wiley campaign for mayor – either had it wrong or purposely misled a city hall press spokesperson over an alleged cover-up of the city violating “right to shelter” court agreements
NBC4 first reported on Aug. 10 that on July 20 the recently fired Savel texted a City Hall Press aide saying, “Just can’t work for a commish who is ok with covering up something illegal,” and that DSS Commissioner Gary Jenkins withheld information from the Adams administration that it knowingly broke the right to shelter law when immigrant families began pouring into the city from Texas.
But Adams spokesperson Fabien Levy said Jenkins sent Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom a message on Monday morning (July 18) saying they realized families remained overnight at PATH but they did not realize there was a legal obligation until later.
“There was never any intention to delay communication of the issue to anyone at City Hall. The quoted text messages are misleading, lack context, and were shared by a former junior staffer in the administration who was not privy to conversations between our leadership teams,” said Levy.
“The city has and will continue to strive every day to meet the mandate to shelter those in need of housing in our city. Last month, we confirmed that we did not meet that mandate for a handful of families by the required time on one evening. We will continue to do the hard and important work to provide shelter to everyone who seeks it, and will abide by both the spirit and the letter of the law,” he added.
Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) interviewed Savel yesterday, and she provided texts, emails and other documentation to DOI investigators, according to several news outlets.
Levy said the administration has seen no public indication of an investigation, but the DOI is an independent agency and will decide on their own what they will or will not investigate.
“As was previously stated, Commissioner Jenkins was informed of the issue and immediately informed Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom that same morning. There was never any intention by DSS to delay communication of the issue to anyone at City Hall,” said Levy.
According to her linkedin account, Savel worked as the Senior Spokeswoman and Director of Rapid Response for the Maya Wiley for Mayor campaign from February through August 2021 – the height of last year’s mayoral primary election season.
Wiley remains the political darling of the far left progressive wing of the Democratic Party often at odds with Mayor Adams – and who may again challenge Adams in the 2025 mayoral primaries.
PoliticsNY could not reach Savel at post time, and was unable to direct message her on Twitter as she limits who can view her tweets.