New York City Council Committee to Investigate Failing Instructors and Special Masters at City Agencies
The city council will investigate how the monitors and special masters overseeing city agencies tasked with fixing high-stakes failures are doing their jobs – and whether they’re extending the work to make taxpayers fortunes.
Councilman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) said she was “very disturbed” after reading a report from the Sunday Post exposing how the city shelled out at least $111 million for these expensive overseers handling ongoing cases, including fixing the horrendous conditions in public housing and prisons.
Brewer thanked the newspaper for shedding light on how the New York City Housing Authority, Department of Correction and other city entities have been under federal and state oversight for sometimes decades — with little to show for it. .
“It bothers me that we have these very expensive monitors, but what has really been the result of their work?” said Brewer.
She also said she’s worried the city will still pay for monitors in cases where agencies have made substantial progress in satisfying court settlements and no longer need monitoring.
Brewer said the powerful Oversight and Investigative Committee, which she chairs, will ask monitors, special petty officers, department heads, city employees and other stakeholders to testify under oath.
She said she expects the inquiry to be “among the first” she will take on as committee chair and that hearings will likely be held “within a few months” once the committee fills in. some vacancies.
Brewer said she was particularly troubled by the “lack of progress” NYCHA has made to address poor living conditions since Bart Schwartz, a former Manhattan prosecutor, was named comptroller in 2019. Since then, Guidepost Solutions , a company chaired by Schwartz, raised $28.5 million. The Monitor’s spokesperson said about half of the funds went to experts Schwartz hired to inspect NYCHA buildings.
She and Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) also said they believe the city needs to understand why conditions in city jails remain appalling, even after 40 years of federal oversight.
“We’re wasting money on these monitors, but prisons really caught my eye,” Holden said. “Look at Rikers Island 40 years later. It actually got worse.”
The DOC refused to provide its comptroller with its full 40-year payment history, only providing the cost to taxpayers from 2018 to 2021, which was nearly $1.5 million.