The rolling turmoil at the City’s Department of Correction seems to be continuing, with the New York Times reporting last night that DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte will be resigning today.
— NYT Metro (@NYTMetro) May 12, 2017
Whether or not that report is accurate remains unclear, though: There’s been no official announcement of the resignation, the correction department did not immediately respond to questions, and Natalie Grybauskas, a mayoral spokesperson, answered emailed questions with a statement that she “can’t confirm anything.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who as recently as yesterday was standing by Ponte in his weekly radio interview with Brian Lehrer, is in Connecticut today, according to his public schedule.
“You know, I’m really, Brian, I think people are missing the forest for the trees,” de Blasio told Lehrer. “Joe Ponte made a mistake. He’s acknowledged it. He’s paying back for the mileage. I am convinced he did not mean to do anything wrong….So, he has my confidence, and I think he’s done really good work for this city.”
This afternoon, the mayor’s office released a statement announcing Commissioner Ponte’s departure, calling it a “retirement.” The press release offers no explanation for Ponte’s departure but includes brief statements from the mayor and the commissioner.
De Blasio praised Ponte’s “tireless efforts to change the culture and improve the effectiveness of one of the nation’s most challenging jail systems,” adding that “there is no doubt that our city’s jails are safer, more rehabilitative, and more humane as a result of Commissioner Ponte’s work.”
In Ponte’s statement, he thanked the staff of the Department of Correction. “I am happy to have spent the last chapter of my career in New York City,” he said. “I’m confident that all the hard work we’ve accomplished has positioned the department for even more meaningful reform in the days ahead.”
A spokesman for the mayor clarified to the Voice that the actual date of Ponte’s retirement hasn’t been determined but will likely be sometime in June. His successor has not yet been selected.