Bill de Blasio’s City Hall rife with dysfunction, bombshell emails reveal

New York is beset by a surge in deadly shootings, homeless have taken over city blocks amid the coronavirus lockdown and officials cannot get schools back open, but City Hall is taking one thing seriously — arguing the racial sensitivity of a proclamation to commemorate women’s suffrage.

The nod to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage was supposed to just be a “note” in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily coronavirus briefing, but it ended up triggering a meltdown among his staffers, emails obtained by The Post show.

The imbroglio is symptomatic of de Blasio’s often capricious and insular management style that sources describe as “emotionally, mentally and physically taxing” — and a major contributor to City Hall’s planning struggles and the exodus of administration staffers.

“It is amateur hour. It’s a bunch of people who have no idea how City Hall works running the show because everyone else has left,” said one former staffer. “There are a lot of sharp elbows, it’s very vicious and very personal — and it gets in the way of focusing on the work at hand.”

The talking points prepared for de Blasio’s briefing on Aug. 26 noted that segregation and other laws meant that “not all women could exercise that right” to vote following the formal adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “Women of color excluded – fought for decades for equal access,” it added.

At 9:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the briefing was scheduled to begin, the email chain exploded.

Ashley Ross-Teel, who runs City Hall’s social media accounts, demanded that the talking points explicitly point out that only white women initially gained access to the voting booth. And she criticized the talking points saying women of color were discriminated against, instead of singling out African American women.

“Sorry, but why wasn’t white women added when it was flagged by [women of color],” she wrote. “Also there is a growing negativity around incorporating Black women into WOC. Everyone’s struggles are not the same.”

Three minutes later, the author of the bullet points fired back.

“Because as a white woman, I find being negged for something that happened 100 years ago unnecessarily confrontational in this context,” wrote Marjorie Sweeney. “We’re trying to bring people together here, not trying to score points off each other.”

At least two other high-ranking de Blasio aides were pulled into the fight, offering last-minute suggestions that were signed off on by de Blasio’s recently hired $17,000-a-month special adviser, Peter Kauffmann at 10:03 am.

The briefing was already late.

De Blasio specifically referenced white women in his remarks that morning, but kept the initially proposed description of “women of color.”

“Not all women” could vote, he said, referencing the notes, which are kept in a small black binder. “Only white women — women of color excluded and they had to fight for many decades more.”

Afterward, his Chief of Staff Emma Wolfe chastised the staffers.

“This should never have been a debate, not the least of which over email,” Wolfe wrote, demanding the communications staff find a “more professional process” to haggle over their differences.

Three former administration staffers said the blow-up is a symptom of the departure of experienced top aides, which they attributed to de Blasio’s mercurial nature, the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and months of protests — including by his own staff — demanding police and civil rights reforms.

“He will just blow everything up on a whim and it’s a domino effect,” one ex-staffer said. “It leads to avoidable last-minute scrambles on everything” — from key policy decisions to the briefing notes.

In theory, the work that goes into assembling the binder for de Blasio’s briefings should be largely complete by the morning. But Hizzoner often demands last-minute rewrites for little reason right up until he walks into the briefing, another source said. That leaves everyone stressed and under-the-gun, leading to eruptions.

“There are a lot of really smart and dedicated people at City Hall who love New York and he prevents them from doing their jobs effectively,” the person added. “It’s him, it lies at the top, it really does.”

The sources said the problems are particularly severe in the mayor’s press and communications departments, which de Blasio depends on to help vet and roll out policy in addition to the typical duties of drafting speeches and handling reporter inquiries.

The heads of both — former Press Secretary Freddi Goldstein and former Communications Director Wiley Norvell — quit on the same day in July without having lined up new jobs. Only Goldstein has been replaced so far.

“Infighting like this on an email chain, it’s an example of dysfunction and the unhappiness people are feeling,” added yet another person familiar.

De Blasio press secretary Bill Neidhardt responded, “Debating talking points is a basic function of all communications offices. That’s what you’re seeing here. In the end, the Mayor makes the call and he acknowledged our country’s painful history of denying women of color the right to vote.”

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