De Blasio’s cover-up for his corrections commissioner just got exposed
Mayor Bill de Blasio has always resisted firing incompetent or ethically challenged commissioners. Now it turns out that in one of the few cases where he did take action, he lied about it. It’s yet another reminder that political corruption in New York isn’t confined to Albany.
For all the denials from City Hall at the time, former Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte has now admitted that his 2017 resignation was due at least “in part” to his long-running misuse of a city-issued SUV.
The disclosure came in a settlement Tuesday with the Conflict of Interest Board in which he was hit with an $18,500 fine for using the car to take 29 out-of-state trips.
Back then, de Blasio insisted Ponte’s resignation only sped up a planned retirement and had nothing to do with his misuse of cars. De Blasio even dismissed his own Investigations Department’s finding of “systemic abuse,” calling it “their view.”
Frankly, Ponte’s problems went beyond his cavalier misuse of taxpayer resources. Violence at Rikers Island rose on his watch. So did the hiring of prison guards with violent criminal records.
He refused even to read the report by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman setting out a blueprint for prison reforms, insisting he took his guidance from City Hall.
No wonder his COIB settlement was so lenient: Unlike others similarly disciplined, he wasn’t hit with a department penalty or forced to reimburse the city for his substantial mileage — or for any such trips during his first two years on the job.
Still, the truth eventually comes out. When Bill de Blasio says one thing, you can be pretty sure the reality lies elsewhere.
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