After confusion if he was actually fired, City Hall said Monday night that New York City's top emergency management chief will stay on while it looks for his replacement.
The city said in a statement that it would conduct a nationwide search for the replacement for Joe Esposito, who heads the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
"It is impossible to overstate Commissioner Esposito's significant contributions to our city's safety while at OEM and the NYPD. We look forward to exploring additional opportunities for Commissioner Esposito to remain in the administration," the city said in the statement.
The announcement came after sources said earlier in the day that Esposito was fired Friday by Laura Anglin, the Deputy Mayor for Operations, following a meeting on the city's handling of the November 15 snowstorm that crippled the city. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Esposito was dismissed.
(A file image of Laura Anglin, the Deputy Mayor for Operations for the City of New York).
But when NY1 reached the Office of Emergency Management earlier Monday, we were told Esposito was still the commissioner. And de Blasio's press secretary offered no more clarity on the situation at the time, declining to comment.
As the mayor left City Hall to meet with Esposito in the afternoon, we tried to ask him about it:
Rauh: Mayor, is Commissioner Esposito still employed by the City of New York?
De Blasio: We'll talk to you later on.
A member of the mayor's security detail blocked reporters from leaving City Hall, allowing de Blasio to depart without cameras trailing him:
The initial confusion about Esposito's future was the talk of City Hall.
"I'm a little shocked. We hadn't heard anything about OEM being blamed in the aftermath of the snowstorm," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. "We didn't hear anything at our council hearing last week. And I hope this isn't the case."
City Council members had rallied around Esposito. Brooklyn City Councilman Chaim Deutsch said the commissioner is known for being responsive and accessible.
"We need to have someone in leadership, such as Commissioner Esposito, who is always available 24 hours a day, when you need to get a hold of him at 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock in the morning," Deutsch said.