NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The former city correction commissioner who lost his job for spending too much time out of town, now wants payment for unused vacation days.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, the city comptroller has a problem with that.
Some might say former Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte has a whole lot of chutzpah — which the dictionary defines as flagrant audacity, and shameless boldness.
He got into trouble for spending 90 days at his home in Maine last year, driving his city car 18,500 miles there and back at taxpayer expense.
Ponte now wants a tidy little parting gift.
Nearly $25,000 as compensation for unused vacation days.
“I think the issues surrounding Mr. Ponte are very unfortunate. I think it’s why people sometimes wonder about the integrity of government,” Comptroller Scott Stringer said.
Stringer said he was stunned when he got a request — which CBS2 obtained under the Freedom of Information Law — for Ponte to be paid for 27 days, 3 hours, and 30 minutes of unused vacation time. That’s more than five weeks.
“My first responsibility is to protect the taxpayer. I’m not going to approve vacation time for someone who may have already used vacation time,” Stringer said.
Ponte’s travels were first exposed in a scathing report by Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters who also discovered that more than two dozen other corrections big wigs were improperly using their city cars for personal use.
Although the mayor promised that Ponte would make full restitution, he only reimbursed the city $1,790 for gas and tolls — not mileage.
Asked on Monday about the lack of repayment, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the conflicts of interest board could still penalize Ponte.
“Everything that needs to be paid back must be paid back,” the mayor said.
“The former commissioner paid tolls and gas, will now be appropriately subjected to the COIB’s decision on his mileage and any penalty,” a spokesman added.
The board has the ability to fine Ponte, take away vacation days, and make him pay mileage.
It recently docked current correction commissioner Cynthia Brann eight days for using her city car to log about 900 miles for trips to local shopping malls.
Ponte drove his care over 18,000 miles.