Harlem City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Wednesday called on Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte to resign, amid recent controversy around DOC, including related to Ponte’s use of a city car to travel to Maine on a regular basis.
“Obviously there has just been a lot that’s been going on at the agency, and I think that it’s been demonstrated that it’s compromised his ability to move forward, and I think he should consider that seriously at this point,” Mark Viverito said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall Wednesday when a reporter asked if she thought Ponte should leave his position.
Negative headlines have plagued the department over the past two weeks after the Department of Investigation released two related reports. The first allegation involved Ponte and other top officials inappropriately using agency cars for out-of-state travel. In the second, more recent report, DOC intelligence officials are accused of wrongfully eavesdropping on conversations between Department of Investigation officials and confidential informants.
With this announcement, the Speaker is breaking with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has repeatedly defended the commissioner, saying Ponte meant no harm with his misuse of the vehicle. Ponte maintains that the phone call surveillance was accidental and that he misunderstood the rules about car use.
Spokespeople for Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James said they were both reserving comment.