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Friday’s Headlines: Cars and Corruption Edition

12:06 AM EDT on October 8, 2021

Photo: File

Cars and corruption. Corruption and cars.

The city press corps was riveted yesterday by the latest de Blasio scandal: the mayor's use of his NYPD security detail — that is, the detective drivers of several city vehicles — for errands that the Department of Investigation said were inappropriate, unwarranted and contrary to ethics rules, such as helping Chiara de Blasio move her belongings to Gracie Mansion in 2018 and driving Dante de Blasio on errands around town and several times up to college at Yale. The DOI — in a 47-page report spurred by reporting of the Daily News's Stephen Brown and Graham Rayman — also charged that the mayor inappropriately used the security detail during his fruitless presidential foray in Iowa, for which his defunct campaign owed the city about $320,000.

“It’s not security,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett told reporters during a press conference. “It’s essentially a concierge service.” Garnett spoke of a "culture" that encouraged the mayor to see the detectives ensuring his security as City Hall staffers and their rides as a taxpayer-funded Uber. "It's no way to run a railroad," she said, without irony, adding that the whole mess amounted to "an enormous waste of public resources."

Gothamist played it straight (as did the Times), highlighting the top-line number that the DOI says the mayor owes the city for bringing his police detail to Iowa on political travel (and linking back to a Chris Robbins story that in May elucidated the practice).

The Daily News did three stories, a main one on the findings and sidebars on Eric Adams's reaction (he sided with de Blasio, who claimed he did nothing wrong) and the fact that the DOI referred the head of the mayor's security detail to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution for allegedly obstructing DOI's investigation. The Post did four — those three and a curtain-raiser in the morning before Garnett's presser. Talk about a tabloid bonanza.

Hizzoner, for his part, pushed back hard during his own press conference, trotting out the NYPD's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, John Miller, to wave the bloody shirt of domestic threats. "I think when you look at the current dynamic threat environment in this country, there are a terrorist groups and domestic extremist groups online who encourage violence against politicians, violence against their family members," Miller said.

Maybe.

For our part, we were reminded of an earlier, car-related de Blasio administration scandal (one in which, full disclosure, we had a part in messaging). In revelations that came to light in 2017, Department of Correction brass drove their taxpayer-funded, city-issued SUVs to weekends in Maine, a casino and a mall in New Jersey, among other inappropriate places. In that case, they paid fines and restitution.

Cars and corruption. Corruption and cars. They go together like, well, an internal combustion engine and a drivetrain ....

In other news:

    • An SUV driver critically injured two Brooklyn teens. (BrooklynPaper)
    • The Post is still calling crashes "accidents." (NYPost)
    • A Citi Bike rider who somehow wound up on Henry Hudson Parkway was mowed down by an unlicensed driver. For once, charges ensued. (NYDN)
    • Kathy Hochul's long knife slashed a Cuomo ally on the MTA Board, and everybody gloated. (NYPost, NYDN, amNY)
    • Another DiNapoli report, another blow to the car-loving MTA Bridges and Tunnels: The agency can't seem to collect millions of the tolls it’s owed... (NYPost)
    • "In all, it was something of a miracle the movie had no casualties," writes The Post in a 50th anniversary retrospective of "The French Connection." The dangerous filming (real, high-speed chases under the El) and traffic jams were all illegal. Someone really could have died — either on the street in Bensonhurst or in an ambulance stuck in fake traffic. Shame.
    • Like Streetsblogthe News and amNY covered the DOT's cycling report.
    • City & State says it watched 18 hours of congestion-pricing hearings "so you don't have to."
    • Sorry, Gerson: The DOI will never go there; it lacks the resources. But it's an interesting thought nonetheless. (Via Twitter)

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