12‘Sorry’ city prober
Blaz-target boss must apologize for firing official
The city commissioner who Mayor de Blasio kept a secret dossier on promised to apologize Thursday after an investigation found he overstepped his authority in an agency power play gone wrong.
Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters agreed to pen a highly unusual mea culpa after the independent examination determined that his takeover of the schools special commissioner of investigations exceeded his legal authority.
The findings by lawyer James McGovern, who was brought in to conduct the inquiry, recommended that Peters write a letter to Anastasia Coleman, the interim commissioner he ousted during the hostile takeover “for the discourteous and unprofessional manner in which he conducted himself during the Feb. 27, 2018, meeting.”
Longstanding Special Investigations Commissioner Richard Condon retired in October 2017, and Coleman was made interim commissioner. Soon after, Peters (photo) moved to consolidate her office into the Department of Investigation, and Coleman objected. He confronted her with an ultimatum of accepting the new terms or being fired during the February meeting.
She refused and was canned. Then she filed a whistleblower complaint.
At the time, de Blasio’s top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter, assembled a dossier on Peters that could be used to justify the mayor axing the Investigation Department commissioner. The document included the Coleman incident and added several other accusations of Peters making abusive threats to get what he wanted.
The mayor ultimately decided not to go forward with his plans to fire Peters. On Thursday, de Blasio press secretary Eric Phillips couldn’t immediately say what the mayor planned to do in response to McGovern’s findings, stating, “We don’t yet have access to the details. We’ll decline comment beyond that.”
Peters revealed Thursday that the independent probe concluded that Coleman and a subordinate, Daniel Schlachet, must be reinstated and given back pay.
McGovern was brought in last April because the whistleblower complaint targeted Peters. He turned over his findings to Peters Wednesday, but as of Thursday Peters had not yet drafted the letter of apology, though agency officials said Peters intends to send the “I’m sorry” letter to Coleman soon. McGovern recommended the note be placed in both Peters’ and Coleman’s personnel files.
On Thursday, the Daily News requested a copy of McGovern’s findings, which were not released with Peters’ statement. Investigation Department officials said they were reviewing that request.
In his statement, Peters said, “Accepting oversight, even when you are the subject of that oversight, is critical for good government. Now that this process is complete, I look forward to continuing the systemic and important oversight work of DOI, the city’s inspector general.”