Department Of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters

After Months Of Conflict, De Blasio Fires Embattled Watchdog

November 16, 2018 - 4:25 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio has fired New York City's chief watchdog, citing an independent report that accused him of "deliberately misleading statements'' and abusive behavior.
De Blasio said Friday's firing of Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters takes effect in three business days. The department investigates city agencies and departments. The commissioner is appointed by the mayor but operates independently.

The firing comes after months of conflict with de Blasio.
Last month's report by former federal prosecutor James McGovern says Peters made misleading statements in City Council testimony and engaged in "intimidating and abusive behavior.''

"This wasn't a decision I made lightly," de Blasio said. "According to an independent review by an investigator chosen by the outgoing commissioner, the very top leadership at DOI repeatedly undermined the values critical to its mission. It's my job as mayor to make a change so that DOI can do its important work going forward."

The city's public advocate said the firing is "reminiscent of Trump-like behavior."

"The McGovern report, while raising concerns, did not call for the firing of Mark Peters. It is my understanding that there are several pending DOI investigations that are particularly troublesome As such, I am calling on the City Council to conduct an Executive Session with Mark Peters so that he can testify about the status of his pending cases, their impacts on the de Blasio Administration, and what role they may have played in Mark Peters’ dismissal," Public Advocate and State Attorney General-elect Letitia James said in a statement.

De Blasio dismissed charges that this is akin to President Donald Trump firing Robert Mueller.

"It's a ridiculous comparison, it is just apples and oranges if ever there was," the mayor said.

Peters in a statement said that serving as DOI Commissioner "has been the greatest professional honor of my life."

"DOI’s work over the past five years has exposed corruption and misconduct and forced serious systematic reforms in multiple agencies," Peters said. "The staff at DOI are among the most talented in law enforcement and it has been an honor to work with them. I expect that despite my departure they will continue the multiple investigations regarding misconduct now pending in the agency without fear or favor."

De Blasio, a Democrat, has nominated Margaret Garnett from the state attorney general's office to succeed Peters. De Blasio said Garnett has prosecuted corrupt officials, organized crime, gang violence, white collar fraud and internationl terror. He said her mission is to "restore trust in the agency" and "aggressively hold accountable those in city government violating the public's trust."

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report)