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Kathryn Garcia Stepping Down As NYC Sanitation Commissioner; Could Run For Mayor Be Next On To-Do List?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has suffered a big blow.

Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia suddenly announced her resignation Monday, saying she simply can't stand by while the mayor takes a budget ax to her agency, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

With trash piling up and litter baskets overflowing because of the latest round of cuts, Garcia said she'd had enough. And although she didn't exactly "trash" talk the mayor, she said she didn't agree with his decision to demand more cuts to her agency.

"I do not want to see my agency decimated," Garcia said.

MORETrash Piling Up Over NYC After Sanitation Department's Budget Slashed By Over $100 Million

In her resignation letter, Garcia called the cuts "unconscionable." The agency lost 411 positions in the budget that began July 1.

The mayor wanted her to lay off another 750 sanitation workers and 150 civilian employees starting Oct. 1. She said that would be devastating and would result in fewer sanitation workers than during the 2010 Boxing Day blizzard under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when ambulances, firetrucks and police cars weren't able to get through unplowed streets.

"It's likely that we would have no litter basket service and that we'd probably only be able to collect refuse once a week for those who get it twice now, and twice a week for those who get it three times, which just means more garbage everywhere. And I think that is not healthy or safe for the city," Garcia told Kramer.

And with winter only a few months away, de Blasio better not be singing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" because if he goes through with the next round of layoffs he's going to have a headache of migraine proportions, Kramer reported.

"I would be very concerned about our ability to fight a large storm. You're asking them to do the impossible," Garcia said.

She told Kramer that if the city is going to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, be a place people want to live and do business, clean streets are a prerequisite and garbage an impediment.

A spokesman for the mayor said he will name an interim sanitation commissioner shortly and then mount a search for a permanent replacement.


Garcia is the person the mayor turned to in almost every crisis, as she is also the city's Food Czar and previously served as interim head of the New York City Housing Authority.

Before she passes the baton, Garcia said she will make sure food deliveries to the city and to pantries continue.

"One of the things we've been working on is making sure we have contracts through December, particularly for seniors," Garcia said.

Does Garcia Have Her Sights Set On Gracie Mansion?

Garcia has also been pretty open about looking at a possible run for mayor, so Kramer asked her what cuts she'd make if she was in de Blasio's position.

"Since I'm not mayor yet, I'm not going to speak to that. Because I would need to see their whole budgets. But, you know, it's something I think that needs to be drilled down," Garcia said. "Other agencies should at least take the same cuts that we already took in the preliminary budget to make it a little bit more equitable," Garcia said.

Kramer asked Garcia if she decided to resign to give her time to evaluate whether or not she'd want to run for mayor.

"Right now, I mean, there is no way to evaluate it while I'm in a government position. I cannot ask anyone for money. That would be a complete violation of COIB, so I need to actually step aside to actually be able to really think through what we need to do," Garcia said.

De Blasio praised the outgoing sanitation commissioner.

"Kathryn has done a great job for this city, and I really appreciate all she did," de Blasio said during his daily briefing, but added about the budget decisions, "The last thing we want to do is cut back on sanitation services. Nor do I want to cut back on police and fire, education, health care. But let's be honest, a lot of what we have depended on in recent years has already been cut. Some of the cuts that she notes were painful cuts, nobody wanted to do them. But we are running out of money, because of the coronavirus, because of a profound economic and budget crisis."

Garcia is the third woman to work for the mayor considering the possibility of entering the mayoral race next year, joining former Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree Sutton and former mayoral counsel Maya Wiley.

"Kathryn, Maya Wiley and Loree Sutton are all extraordinary talented leaders, three strong women. I think that is good for New York City. So I wish her and all of them great luck," de Blasio said.

It looks like it's going to be a very crowded field. At last count there were nearly 20 people dreaming of living in Gracie Mansion, Kramer reported.

Also Tuesday, Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, the deputy mayor of Health and Human Services, announced his resignation.

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