NEW YORK—As public advocate, Mayor Bill de Blasio vilified Jonathan Mintz, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), and called on him to resign. But two weeks into his administration, Mintz is still in charge, despite the mayor’s power to replace him.
UPDATE: A call from the mayor’s press team clarified the leadership situation at DCA: Mintz resigned in Dec. Alba Pico, first deputy commissioner, is now in charge. Neither the mayor’s office nor the DCA returned requests for comment before this article was published.
De Blasio has had a combative history with the DCA.
During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio accused Mintz of imposing a secret quota system to levy fines on small businesses to pad the city’s budget. De Blasio’s office released a document in the summer titled “The Clear Evidence,” which listed several quotes from media reports to support the claim, some of which came from anonymous sources.
In one of the segments, Mintz’s words were quoted out of context. A representative for de Blasio’s public advocate’s office at the time said that the office did not reach out to the media to verify the context of Mintz’s words.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Mintz, saying that a quota exists for the number of inspections, but not for the number of fines. Mintz also denied the charges and did not resign.
In 2012, de Blasio released a study accusing the department of having a “borough bias”—fining and inspecting businesses in the outer boroughs at a higher rate than those in Manhattan.
Mintz dismissed both of the attacks in June last year, and expressed doubt about de Blasio’s intentions.
“There are no quotas, there is no borough bias, there is just a mayoral candidate using his public office and our taxpayer dollars to ‘investigate’ a scandal that doesn’t exist,” Mintz wrote to Epoch Times in June.
A Key Department
The DCA is tasked with carrying out some of de Blasio’s campaign promises. The mayor’s promise to ban horse-drawn carriages would have to be executed by the DCA, which licenses horse-drawn cab drivers. De Blasio promised to ban the carriages immediately, but has not taken action on his promise.
De Blasio’s promise to expand sick pay to more workers is also tied to the consumer affairs department, which has been designated to enforce the law. At the time the legislation was passed in March, a representative with the DCA was dubious as to why the department was designated to regulate sick leave, saying that it “regulates fairness in the marketplace, not labor and payroll issues.”
Most recently, de Blasio promised to help Jerry Delakas, a newsstand operator who stood in line for hours for a chance to plead with the mayor at a meet and greet at Gracie Mansion. To the dismay of many regulars, Delakas’s newsstand was padlocked by the DCA recently. He has been operating it without a license for more than two decades.
Delakas brought the mayor a miniature newsstand as a gift.
De Blasio promised to get his team on the case.
As of Jan. 12, Delakas’s stand is still padlocked.
The mayor’s office and the DCA did not respond to requests for comment for this story.