Mayor Adams defended his deputy mayor for public safety Tuesday for a sojourn he took to California immediately after Eric Garner’s death, contending that his pick for the post is still the “best” fit for the job.
Deputy Mayor Phil Banks was serving as the NYPD’s chief of department at the time of Garner’s death, but instead of being in the Big Apple for what proved to be the historic aftermath of Garner’s arrest, Banks was in Los Angeles hobnobbing with two men who’d later be convicted on corruption charges.
When asked about this Tuesday, Adams responded that Banks is “the best person to assist me in coordinating all of my law enforcement agencies so we can create a safe city.”
“His trip to LA on vacation and other things — I know what I must do for this city,” Adams said when asked about the trip, which was first reported Tuesday in the Daily News. “I must appoint and hire the best talent to do the best job and make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. And Phil Banks is part of the team that I am putting together, and I’m happy [with] the team.”
After their trip to California, the two men Banks traveled with — Norman Seabrook, the former head of the correction officer’s union, and Jona Rechnitz, a donor to former Mayor Bill de Blasio — were ensnared in federal probes that landed Seabrook in prison for accepting a bribe from Rechnitz, who is now appealing a five month prison sentence.
Since being appointed by Adams, criticisms over pickings Banks has focused on the fact that Banks was named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the corruption trial that involved Rechnitz and his partner Jeremy Reichberg, who was sentenced to four years behind bars for bribing cops.
The trip to LA opens a new front for critics unhappy with the pick.
During their time on the West Coast, Banks, Seabrook and Rechnitz treated themselves to head massages, martinis and drives around town in a slick Porsche. They also had a chance run-in with the television host Larry King.
Meanwhile, a continent away, protesters were slamming the NYPD’s treatment of Garner as well as the internal policies that Banks had a hand in promulgating at the time as its chief of department.
And unlike Adams, Banks did not offer an on-the-record statement when asked about the trip.