NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ethical zingers were flying at Mayor Bill de Blasio from all directions Wednesday – including from the Conflicts of Interest Board and his own Department of Investigation commissioner.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the controversy stemmed from the misuse of city cars and apparent special treatment for city bigwigs.

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The allegation is that some were punished for misusing city cars, while others were not.

“You can’t have one rule for the little people and another rule for the bosses,” said Susan Lerner of the good government group Common Cause.

Lerner was talking specifically about Mayor de Blasio’s defense of his Department of Correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, in the face of a scathing Department of Investigation audit that found Ponte used his official city car to travel 18,500 miles on personal trips out of the city.

The report also found that Ponte soaked the city for gas and tolls.

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“I have absolute faith in Commissioner Ponte,” de Blasio said this past Friday on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

Although there is talk that Ponte will reimburse the city for the gas and tolls, the mayor has declined to punish him further.

By contrast, a low-ranking New York City Housing Authority employee, Joel Lemaitre, was suspended for 10 days and docked $2,222 by the Conflicts of Interest Board for using his car for one hour to take his mother to buy a chair.

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“This is a persistent problem we’ve seen in New York, where executives get waivers and are excused,” Lerner said, “and the everyday rank-and-file member gets slammed.”

All of this touched off a spate of unusual public criticism of the administration.

DOI Commissioner Mark Peters issued a statement saying, “There can be no defense of this behavior and City Hall harms government integrity by even trying.”

After docking Lemaitre and two sanitation workers for the misuse of vehicles, the Conflicts of Interest Board issued a series of pointed tweets ending with this message: “So yeah, don’t use a City vehicle for a non-City purpose.”

Voters also weighed in when Kramer asked what they thought should happen to the corrections commissioner.

“Maybe he should be put on probation, for it” said Damon Lawery of the Bronx.

“Maybe he should be fired,” said Helena Roberts of the Upper West Side. “

“The mayor should really think twice — bad decision,” another woman said.

“There’s no justice,” another man added.

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A spokesman for the mayor said Ponte will not be fired. But sources said the DOI investigation is continuing, and there is a possibility that the Conflicts of Interest Board will weigh in.