Emil Cohen/City Council

Speaker Johnson flanked by Max (left) and Murphy.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says New York was slow to react to the measles outbreak that prompted Mayor de Blasio’s emergency declaration this week.

“Well, I think that we should have declared an emergency before it hit almost 300 children and the first sign of measles being in New York City in a substantial way, in Brooklyn predominantly, was last October. So this has been almost six months,” he told WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show on Wednesday.

The speaker acknowledged that the outbreak only really hit stride recently. But he added: “Just like when we were dealing with Ebola and Legionnaire’s and other issues that were a public health crisis in New York City, we have to be fast, nimble and factual on how we get information out to protect as many New Yorkers as possible.”

Measles was just one of the topics the speaker, who has said he is exploring a run for mayor in 2021, said in a 45-minute interview that came at a very interesting time for him and the rest of City Hall: in the wake of a sweeping state budget (including a congestion pricing plan that Johnson strongly critiques), in the heart of the local budget process, and with a Council-initiated charter revision commission hard at work and a de Blasio presidential campaign possibly in the offing.

Listen below as Johnson weighs in on the alleged Amazon hangover, how he’s handled disciplining Council members, whether he supports charter changes to the ULURP process, what his vision for the mayoralty is, and—in a surprisingly candid and nuanced moment for an active politician—his discussion of the role that theatrics play in the life of a successful elected official.

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