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NYC comptroller sues Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office

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New York City‘s official financial watchdog is suing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for allegedly refusing to turn over documents related to their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Comptroller Scott Stringer filed a lawsuit at the New York Supreme Court on Wednesday, six months after launching an investigation into the city’s preparation and response to the outbreak in March. 

Stringer, who recently announced he is running for mayor, has accused the city of failing to comply with the probe, claiming it has ‘continually delayed’ handing over documents since his initial request in May. 

Comptroller Scott Stringer, who is running to replace Bill De Blasio as NYC mayor, filed a lawsuit against the city on Wednesday, accusing officials of failing to comply with his investigation into their response to the pandemic

At the time, Stringer said New Yorkers deserved ‘an objective assessment’ on the city’s handling of the health crisis and was determined to ‘examine what we knew, when we knew it, and what we did about it.’   

His lawsuit claims he had sought information pertaining to the city’s finances, noting a recent report that New York City had ‘incurred or committed to $4.95billion of COVID-related spending’ for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years. 

Stringer submitted an official request for information on May 12, followed by a subpoena in June demanding reports from November 1, 2019 to March 22, 2020 – when the city’s stay-at-home order went into effect.  

Since then, the lawsuit claims, ‘only a small fraction’ of those documents have been produced, ‘impeding and frustrating the Comptroller’s ability’ to complete the probe.

‘The city has stalled, delayed and stymied our work,’ Stringer said during a news conference announcing the legal action on Wednesday.  

However some New Yorkers have accused the comptroller of using his legal battle and recent attacks on the administration to score political points for his mayoral bid

‘I get what they’re doing. That’s why we’re in court. They’re slow-walking this. They don’t want us to do our due diligence. I really don’t know what they’re hiding, but I’ve had enough.’  

The lawsuit states the subpoena had requested documents from City Hall, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Emergency Management, FDNY, and NYC Health + Hospitals. 

All five agencies were required to submit the information on ‘a rolling basis’ by July 31.  

Only ‘124 documents of limited relevance from NYCEM’ were submitted by the Law Department, which is representing the city, the day before the deadline, the complaint states.  

To date, Stringer claims his office has since only received 30,000 pages of records earlier this month, but only pertaining to the FDNY and NYC Emergency Management. 

Stringer has been openly critical about some of De Blasio’s moves during the pandemic

Stringer, who was appointed comptroller in 2014, has been openly critical about some of De Blasio’s moves during the pandemic, including his decision to suspend in-class learning at schools on Wednesday.

‘While our kids will no longer have access to in-person instruction, people are still dining indoors, going to gyms, and working in non-essential offices. This does not pass the common sense test,’ Stringer said in a statement. 

He later shared a tweet in regards to his lawsuit saying, ‘New Yorkers deserve to know what went wrong—but also, what went *right*.’  

However some New Yorkers have accused the comptroller of using his legal battle and recent attacks on the administration to score political points for his mayoral bid. 

‘You and your directors should take a paycut. The performance of the pensions you oversee has been subpar and cost city taxpayers money. Yet plenty of your top brass got pay raises. Also stop using your office to run your campaign,’ one person  replied. 

Another added: ‘What went wrong: We elected the worst mayor in NYC History and a miserably incompetent comptroller who is incapable of doing his job.’

Stringer’s lawsuit also comes after a recent report showed how the mayor’s office allegedly ‘mishandled’ $1.4billion in medical supplies during the early weeks of the pandemic. 

Local news site The City last week reported The Department of Citywide Administrative Services had ‘lost track’ of 100 ventilators and let ‘millions of dollars’ worth of equipment sit in a storehouse. 

The DCAS later responded to the report ‘categorically’ rejecting the statements. 

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