NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The city’s recently ousted Department of Investigation commissioner is questioning Mayor Bill de Blasio’s reason for relieving him of his duties.
De Blasio fired Mark Peters Friday after a long battle.
Peters was responsible for investigating city agencies and departments.
Peters is firing back, issuing a blistering letter in which he accused the mayor of “a late night screaming phone call” and multiple attempts to block embarrassing reports.
Web Extra: Read Mark Peters’ response to firing (.pdf)
Peters is not going quietly into the night.
In a stunning airing of dirty linen, Peters says he was given the heave-ho by de Blasio after he repeatedly refused to deep six investigations that exposed the dark underbelly of de Blasio’s administration. Warts that he says the mayor and his aides didn’t want exposed.
Peters further charges that “certain ongoing investigations about which the mayor and his senior staff are very much aware must cast doubt upon the mayor’s true motives.
Peters said the that the ongoing investigations, including a probe of mayoral interference in yeshiva matters and unsafe conditions at NYCHA “could implicate the mayor and/or senior appointees in certain agencies.”
Peters said reports he was asked to keep private included NYCHA lying about lead paint testing, former Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte and other corrections officials using their city cars for vacations and shopping trips, and an Administration for Children Services probe shortly after the death of a child.
“I received a call from the mayor in which he asked me to not release this ACS report. When I informed the mayor that DOI was obligated to make its findings public he yelled at me, accused me of trying to take his administration ‘down’,” Peters said.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer asked the mayor about Peters’ allegations that he asked Peters to deep six investigation.
“False,” said de Blasio. “False. Unfortunately, this is an individual who did some very inappropriate things…. I am exercising my authority under the charter to make sure there’s a change in that office.”
The mayor is referring to an independent report that focused on a power grab by Peters to try and take control of the Special Commissioner of Investigations for Schools.
Web Extra: De Blasio Responds To Peters’ Letter
Peters wrote that he believes his firing was “an attempt to punish and intimidate the Department of Investigation for its past work.”
“The letter in question reveals a pattern of interference with DOI investigations and intimidation against DOI officials that borders on the unethical and should be illegal. No public official should ever attempt to suppress investigative findings while keeping the rest of us in the dark about our own government,” said City Council member Ritchie Torres, who heads the council’s committee on oversight and investigations. “The City Council must make every conceivable effort to protect the integrity and independence of DOI from raw political power. The next DOI Commissioner has a moral obligation to press ahead with pre-existing investigations without fear or favor.”
Ritchie told Kramer the ouster should be more than simply concerning.
“It’s the kind of behavior that is not only unethical but should be unlawful,” Torres said. “It should be unlawful for a mayor to lobby a DOI commissioner not to release a report.”
Torres also says he’s concerned that the report will have a chilling effect on the ongoing investigations, including one looking into whether the mayor interfered in yeshivas.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)