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The Ditherer

November 19, 2018

So Mayor Bill de Blasio took the advice offered by NYPD Confidential, which quoted George Arzt, press secretary to former Mayor Ed Koch, on what to do about Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters.

 Arzt said that if Koch had a commissioner of investigations like Peters, Koch “would have personally taken Peters by the scruff of his neck and thrown him out on the City Hall Plaza.” [See NYPD Confidential Oct 29, 2018.]

Well, guess what? On Friday, de Blasio fired Peters.

But the question is: What took the mayor so long? Said Arzt. “Everyone was asking, ‘What was Bill waiting for?’”

A scathing report about Peters by an independent investigator had been completed Oct. 10. By not firing Peters then, de Blasio is now paying a price.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialIn theory, the DOI commissioner serves as the city’s independent inspector general, reporting to the mayor and the City Council but operating independently of both. For as long as anyone can remember, the commissioner’s actual job is to protect the mayor. Not for nothing did past City Hall reporters refer to the DOI commissioner as Commissioner Whitewash.

Not Peters. He produced reports about city agencies that embarrassed the mayor. Most notable were his disclosure of lead paint in the city’s housing authority; of the mayor’s lifting the deed restrictions on a Lower East Side nursing home, allowing its sale to a developer of luxury condominiums; and a report criticizing the staffing and training of the NYPD’s Special Victims Division. He also began an investigation into whether City Hall tried to influence a review of the educational quality in Hasidic religious schools.

A solid public servant, you might think. Well, think again. Peters also tried to take control of the school system’s investigative office. When the head of the office, Anastasia Coleman, resisted, Peters fired her. She then filed a whistle-blower complaint. This led to the appointment of James McGovern as an independent investigator.

He concluded that Peters had “exceeded his lawful authority” and given misleading testimony to the City Council. Four senior DOI officials also provided “inaccurate and inconsistent” testimony, McGovern stated.

“The Commissioner of Investigation’s position of authority and public trust is such that he or she should not be so cavalier with the truth,” McGovern wrote. “Nor should the Commissioner of Investigation attempt to convey the sense that he or she is above the law. That is particularly so when a false and menacing statement is obviously intended — as it was here — to cow a subordinate [Coleman] into submission.”

But instead of firing Peters when the report came out over a month ago, the mayor, as is his wont, dithered. Now Peters is hinting the mayor fired him to prevent his carrying out investigations. And some are buying it.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittAlready the Post’s editorial board is blathering that the City Council “needs to hold a hearing where Peters gets his say — and perhaps explore ways to block” his firing.

So we haven’t heard the last of Mark Peters. “Earlier today, I was informed that the Mayor had fired me as DOI Commissioner,” he said Friday. “I have until next Wednesday to respond and I will do so in writing.” That should be interesting.

 No doubt it was coincidence that the police department announced the transfer of Special Victims Division’s Chief Michael Osgood on the same day that Mayor Bill de Blasio fired DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialOne of Peters’s investigations concerned the Special Victims Division, which he reported was understaffed and undertrained. Much of Peters’s information is believed to have originated with Osgood, who is considered the department’s sex crimes expert and who over the years has written a series of internal reports, critical of the division’s low staffing and training levels.

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, who announced Osgood’s transfer, said the transfer is “not a punishment” but “natural evolution,” whatever that means. Insiders, however, say Osgood regards the transfer as a “dump” and plans to put in his papers to retire this week.

His successor is Department Chief Judith Harrison, a black female. That qualification alone is usually enough to quiet the media and liberal pols so that the real reasons for Osgood’s transfer may never become known.

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