NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ethics and motives are being called into question as he maneuvers to reign in the city’s inspector general; a man whose corruption investigations have been a thorn in the mayor’s side.
There’s no question that Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters has caused de Blasio some embarrassing moments as he exposed corruption and city screw-ups, everything from the correction commissioner taking his city-owned car on vacation jaunts to NYCHA covering up its failure to do lead paint inspections.
It’s why good government groups are rushing to his defense, attacking the mayor’s attempt to reign Peters in or even fire him.
“For someone who has been skating at the edge of campaign finance violations and other forms of potential corruption that we don’t know, it really smacks of bad old-style politics,” Columbia Professor Esther Fuchs told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer.
Fuchs isn’t the only one defending Peters. Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-15th) calls de Blasio’s war with Peters “an assault on the independence of the city’s oldest law enforcement agency.”
“If Donald Trump did to Robert Mueller what Bill de Blasio has done to Mark Peters it would rightly be a public scandal,” Torres continued.
At issue is de Blasio’s decision to sign an executive order stating that the mayor has to approve the appointment or removal of the school special prosecutor, who works under Peters. It was fueled by Peters’ decision to fire the current school prosecutor and take more direct control of school investigations.
“I’m concerned his actions are going to cripple the ability of the DOI commissioner to investigate corruption in the school system that accounts for one-third of the city’s budget,” Torres said.
De Blasio claims it will have the opposite effect.
“I think it protects the independence of the special commissioner,” the mayor said Wednesday. But with reports that de Blasio would like to get rid of Peters, CBS2’s Kramer asked the mayor a question many have.
Has the mayor lost faith in the investigations commissioner?
“I’m not going to get into a personnel matter,” de Blasio replied.
Meanwhile, Peters seemed surprised by the mayor’s moves. A spokesperson pointed out that the commissioner notified City Hall in February about changes he wanted to make regarding school oversight and that “City Hall raised no concerns or objections.”