A new chief spokesman for the New York City Department of Human Services once wrote a withdrawn editorial comparing efforts to reduce the number of cars in the city to the Holocaust.
Stephen Witt, editor for the Schneps Media PoliticsNY website, announced in: post on a blog on Thursday that he was appointed the new DSS Deputy Commissioner for Press Relations, a position that has remained vacant since the last person in the role was made redundant this summer.
“With a mixture of sadness and excitement, I will leave my post as editor-in-chief of political affairs at Schneps Media and join Eric Adams’ mayor administration,” Witt wrote, before ending his post with the hashtag “#GetStuffDone,” which is often used by the mayor.
Witt’s nomination comes a few years after he created strong pressure for posting a self-describing satirical editorial on the PoliticsNY website titled “If Cars In New York Could Talk.”
“If only cars from New York could talk,” he opened piece from July 2019, “I imagine the following conversation: ‘Hear the news, buddy? In public parking lots it is said that the city is the beginning of the final solution, ”said a blue Suburban Outback with a strong Australian accent.
“Final Solution” is the phrase that the German Nazis used to refer to the systemic m*rder of millions of Jews during World War II.
Later in the article, Witt quoted another car saying, “The muffler is that we are being driven to car camps in rural Pennsylvania, New Jersy. [sic] and upstate New York ”, another apparent Holocaust reference about Nazi extermination camps.
The song caused a devastating reaction on the Internet at the time, but Witt initially refused to remove it. Instead, he added a disclaimer: “To those who are so offended by the next column, I sincerely regret and apologize that your feelings and intellect are hurt in any way. But that said, I also do not underestimate the power of satire and the freedom of thought, speech and press – all of this, I believe, is reason enough not to pull the next column. “
A few days later, he removed the column and replaced it with that note: “This column was in bad taste and I took it off the page.”
While Witt was leading the column, New York City officials had just started introducing city tolls to reduce car traffic.
Witt was unable to obtain comment on Friday, and a spokesman for Mayor Adams did not respond to a request for comment.
A Social Welfare spokeswoman confirmed Witt’s employment but declined to comment on his previous work. “We look forward to building on Stephen’s many years of experience in this field,” the spokeswoman said.
Witt replaces Julia Savel, who was fired in August after he accused his boss, Social Welfare Commissioner Gary Jenkins, of concealing his agency’s failure to find accommodation for Latin American migrants in violation of the city’s right to shelter . Jenkins said Savel was terminated due to “unprofessional” behavior, but never explained what that meant.
The City Investigation Department opened an investigation into the concealment of charges following Savel’s release, which is believed to be still ongoing. Jenkins vehemently denied the claims of concealment.
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