ALBANY, NY – During a joint hearing on the proposed 2017-18 aide to localities portion executive budget, a testy exchange between State Senator Terrence Murphy and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio occurred when the discussions moved to the Mayor’s request for a three-year renewal of mayoral control of schools.
Senator Murphy pointedly questioned how Mayor de Blasio, who is currently the target of two separate federal and state grand jury investigations regarding alleged pay-to-play in his administration, why the Mayor should be trusted in light of the ongoing investigations into his fundraising. While not answering the question directly, the Mayor suggested that Murphy had a “bone to pick” with him.
“The taxpayers are the ones with a bone to pick with Mayor Bill de Blasio, and they are already the hook for $11 million dollars in legal defense bills for the alleged corruption in his administration,” Murphy said. “The state is providing aide for services, not legal fees for criminal defense lawyers. Mayor de Blasio is spending so much on his legal defense bills that he is cutting funding for the City Department of Veterans’ Services and eliminating the veteran’s homelessness prevention officer and spending six times on legal bills what it spends on our veterans.”
One of the investigations centers around a 2014 effort where the Mayor and his associates directed individuals with business pending before the City to make political donations far in excess of the legal limit by funneling them through straw donors, including the Putnam County Democratic Committee. These same people were asked to contribute to the Mayor’s non-profit.
“Mayoral control was created in the first place to rout out the corruption, the pay-to-play and the self-dealing at the Board of Ed and the School Construction Authority,” Murphy said. “It can only be re-authorized when we can trust that the individual or individuals with control of the schools aren’t engaging in that exact same behavior.”