Ponte Has Been Embroiled In Scandal Surrounding City Vehicle Use

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Embattled New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte is set to announce he will leave his post Friday amid a scandal involving city vehicle use.

Sources told CBS2 that Ponte had planned to retire in several months, but he has moved it up because of the schedule and will make the announcement Friday morning.

CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer was again demanding answers earlier Thursday, and she reported there had been signs that de Blasio and Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte are about to part ways.

The saga of Ponte’s out-of-state road trips on the city dime has gotten under de Blasio’s skin, Kramer reported, He bemoaned the complaints about Ponte’s actions on his “Ask the Mayor” segment on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” Thursday.

“All people want to talk about is the godforsaken cars,” de Blasio said on the program.

And de Blasio did not like it later, when it was the topic du jour at his once-a-week news conference. There was a barrage of questions about Ponte and his 18,500 miles of out-of-state trips in a city car – with taxpayers footing the bills for gas and tolls too.

Kramer: “Last week when we talked about Commissioner Ponte, you explained away lack of understanding about the use of city cars by saying, and I quote: ‘He’s not from New York City. He’s not used to New York City government. He’s used to other jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has a different approach.’ Well it turns out that in Maine where he served before, he wrote the policy about cars — here’s his signature on it – and it says you can’t use cars for personal business. Do you regret that defense?”

De Blasio: “No, not at all. I think you guys are very focused on this issue. I have come to my conclusion. I’m moving on.”

But City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito had said Wednesday that Ponte has got to go, and she said she had no confidence in his leadership.

De Blasio defended Ponte Thursday, but there was a whole lot of wiggle room, Kramer reported.

Kramer: “How much longer are you going to tolerate this? How much longer will Commissioner Ponte be working in your administration?”

De Blasio: “Marcia, I believe he’s doing a very good job, and I’d like to see him keep doing the job. He will make his own decisions.”

The mayor said Ponte will reimburse the city for every mile, every gallon of gas, and every toll.

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