Metro

Unvaxxed NYC pol facing showdown over COVID mandate

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A Queens City Councilwoman-elect is gearing up for a showdown with her new colleagues over rules that mandate Council members and their staff be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Vicki Paladino — a GOP firebrand from Whitestone — launched her salvo against the jab this week, telling The Post that “under no circumstances” will her staff be required to reveal their vaccination status.

“Should the mandates continue indefinitely, my office is exploring all available options to protect the livelihoods and liberty of my constituents, staff, and all New Yorkers,” Paladino said.

People close to Paladino said the 67-year-old small business owner is not vaccinated. The councilwoman-elect refused to confirm or deny her vax status, saying it was a “private matter between myself and my physician.” She would be the only known member of the 51-person body who is unvaccinated.

“Like tens of thousands of fellow New Yorkers, I believe the mandates are counterproductive and crippling to our economy and deeply divisive socially,” she said.

“I maintain hope that Mayor Adams will break from the failed policies of the de Blasio administration and rescind all emergency powers shortly into our new term and allow life in NYC to return to normal, as it already has throughout much of America,” she continued.

In a Nov. 8 email to Council members and staffers, Charles Davis, interim director of administrative services, said all members needed to be jabbed — no exceptions.

Paladino is banking on forthcoming mayor Eric Adams relaxing some of the city's COVID rules.
Paladino is banking on mayor-elect Eric Adams relaxing some of the city’s COVID rules.
BRIGITTE STELZER

“Beginning November 15, 2021, no one who works at the Council will be permitted to work at City Hall and/or 250 Broadway offices, or at any Council Member district office, if they have not provided the required proof of vaccination. This includes the Speaker, Council Members, Central staff, and Council Member aides, as well as any interns or volunteers,” Davis wrote.

Opposition to vaccine mandates deeply animates the GOP base and Paladino made it a signature issue of her campaign.

Paladino has long been a combative figure in her community and went viral in 2017 for screaming at Mayor de Blasio during a press conference in the neighborhood. She hasn’t been afraid to take it to her own party either and had a famously sour relationship with Queens GOP chairwoman — and her new Council colleague — Joann Ariola. Paladino even cursed out Ariola during an interview with right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos last year. The two insist they have patched things up.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Paladino gained notoriety in 2017 for berating Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Dennis A. Clark

Paladino upset Democrat Tony Avella in a race decided by less than 400 votes.

The vaccine issue has been circulating among the small conference of City Council Republicans. On Nov 12, Joe Borelli, the chamber’s newly-elected minority leader from Staten Island, had a conversation with Paladino about the issue and “advised her to the Council’s policy” but added the decision was ultimately up to her.

“I have no interest in forcing her to get vaccinated,” Borelli said — adding that it would be possible for her to vote remotely if need be. “She will be a voting member of the City Council. There is no scenario where that doesn’t happen.”

But appearing on the floor is another matter.

Both Borelli and Paladino are tentatively holding out hope that new rules lifting the city council mandate will be introduced by a new speaker, though the minority leader acknowledged that he didn’t know how the issue would shake out if nobody budged.

Democratic Council members — many who are double vaccinated with a booster and masked to the nines — expressed concern about an unvaccinated member.

“Of course it makes me uncomfortable. We know that vaccinations save lives and reduce the risk of spread and reduce hospitalization,” said one pol. “We all lived through last year and with an uptick in positivity rates with the holidays coming up and winter upon us, it’s more important now than ever that everyone is vaccinated.”

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