Councilman Suggests De Blasio May Have Put Correction Commissioner Up To ‘Bad Advice’ Defense

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Says Joseph Ponte Should Step Down

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Wednesday marked another day of controversy for embattled New York City Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito now says Ponte has got to go, amid new questions about his alibi. He claimed that he got advice that it was acceptable to misuse his city car.

Ponte on Wednesday used a flying wedge of guards to shield him from reporters, but it was not enough to shield him from the wrath of Mark-Viverito.

“Commissioner Ponte should step down,” she said. “I don’t have confidence in his leadership any longer.”

Mark-Viverito wants to change the channel on the municipal soap opera engulfing the jail boss, but apparently, there are still more episodes.

Thee were lingering questions Wednesday about why Ponte apparently lied under oath at a City Council hearing, and who was behind his testimony that he got bad advice and bad guidance – saying it was perfectly fine to take his city car out of state.

He logged 18,500 miles — charging gas and tolls to the city as well.

“I don’t think Joe Ponte came up with the scheme to make up a phony excuse about bad advice – that’s the mayor’s M.O.,” said Queens City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-24th). “So the question is, who put him up to it?”

Kramer asked Lancman if he had a suspicion as to who put Ponte up to the bad advice defense.

“Well, all I can say is this – we know that the excuse of bad advice has been the mayor’s M.O. It was bad advice that caused him to upend the campaign finance system. It was bad advice to take all money from people who were, you know, doing business with the city,” Lancman said, “and this sounds really suspiciously close to that.”

On Monday, Ponte reluctantly told the City Council, under oath, that two former correction officials – including First Deputy Mark Cranston gave him the green light to go on road trips.

Kramer tried to get the mayor’s response about Ponte’s testimony, but his guard grabbed her as the mayor walked into City Hall.

Mayoral spokeswoman Natalie Grybuaskas later said, “The suggestion is absurd.”

Kramer also asked Mark-Viverito if she thought Ponte should be brought up on charges of lying under oath at a City Council hearing.

“I am having the staff look at it,” she said. “There seems to be some back and forth… but I definitely will take a look at that seriously.”

Now as far as getting rid of Ponte, the mayor’s representative insisted he has confidence in the commissioner and “the work he’s done.”

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