NEW YORK (CBSnewYork) – The new head of New York City’s Department of Investigation is vowing to be independent of Mayor de Blasio and to pursue cases even if they get her boss in hot water.
Following ten days of turmoil – and the ugly airing of City Hall’s dirty laundry – after de Blasio’s decision to fire DOI commissioner Mark Peters, the woman chosen to replace him faced the City Council Monday.
“It is vitally important to the integrity of DOI that it be independent from the rest of city government and also be perceived by the public as independent,” Margaret Garnett said.
Despite the flowery speech, city council members wanted to be sure that Garnett – who had been the state’s executive deputy attorney general – would be free of constraints from City Hall.
They’re also determined to make sure she’ll pursue investigations, even if they proved embarrassing to the current administration.
“If you are asked to withhold or change a report what would you do?” council speaker Corey Johnson asked.
“I would reject that request,” Garnett replied.
Council members are particularly concerned about charges made by former Commissioner Peters after he was fired.
Peters said that he was ousted by de Blasio because he repeatedly refused to drop investigations that exposed the dark underbelly of the mayor’s administration. Investigations which reportedly probed everything from lies about lead paint in NYCHA apartments to corrections officials using their city cars for vacations and shopping trips.
Peters also raised red flags about ongoing investigations that could involve the mayor and his commissioners – including allegations of de Blasio’s interference in the Yeshiva probe – would be discontinued now that he’s out.
“How would you handle an investigation that would involve the other side of City Hall?” Johnson asked the DOI nominee.
“I will pursue it,” Garnett simply said.
“Independently without any interference from City Hall?” Johnson added.
“That is correct,” Garnett replied.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reports that the pick for DOI chief also said she’d read the report that allegedly prompted the mayor to fire Mark Peters.
Garnett said she felt de Blasio was justified in doing it.
The full city council will have to approve the commissioner’s appointment and that could come as early as Wednesday.