Mayor Bill de Blasio personally intervened on behalf of one of his leading fundraisers to have a partial vacate order lifted on a building the City deemed as unlicensed, illegal and improperly worked on, knowledgable sources told Kings County Politics.
The incident stems from December 2014, when it is alleged that de Blasio personally intervened on behalf of Satmar Rabbi Moish Indig to have a vacate order lifted on two adjacent Satmar school buildings at 88 and 96 Sanford Street in Bed-Stuy.
One of the buildings was entered without a permit, and the other was found to have illegal classes in the basement. A city Department of Buildings (DOB) inspector cited it for having dangerous electrical work among other violations. The newer building was literally built in weeks, and received construction permits retroactively.
After Indig and the Satmars received the vacate order, DOB Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Ira Gluckman allegedly was called under pressure from the de Blasio Administration to intervene. It was during the meeting between Gluckman and Indig at the properties in question that de Blasio allegedly personally called in on Indig’s cell phone to inquire on status of the buildings and ordered Gluckman to have the vacate order rescinded.
The inspector that signed the lift order specified that it was done as per Gluckman, implying that the inspector was uncomfortable to green light it.
It is not the first time this Satmar faction and Indig built a building in record time without proper permits. They previously built a synagogue in two weeks, and described it a “miracle.” Sadly, a worker died during the work.
The story of de Blasio’s intervention came to light in late 2014 when Kings County Politics Founder/Editor Stephen Witt was working as a freelance editor/reporter for Our Time Press in Bedford Stuyvesant. While investigating the story, Witt questioned de Blasio’s press office and the DOB about the allegation, and former Deputy Press Secretary Wiley Norvell said there was no truth to it.
“The mayor had no such contact on this issue, nor took any action. Nor did any staff become involved beyond the standard agency communications we have keeping us updated on their operations,” said Norvell on Jan. 6, 2015.
Witt said he decided against writing the story for Our Time Press out of fear that the de Blasio Administration would seek retribution. Additionally, he felt the media climate at the time was so pro-de Blasio that he would be painted as a crackpot, hurting both his infant startup, KCP, and if that didn’t work out, his chances of getting another staff position at a larger media outlet.
“In hindsight, I regret this decision and personally want to apologize to Our Time Press Publisher/Editor David Greaves, who knew about the story and respected my decision not to run with it because of my economic situation,” said Witt.
Witt is an award-winning news journeyman journalist with over 25 years experience as a staff reporter and freelancer at both large and small news organizations. He gave his notes and corresponding emails on this story to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office in late December 2016.
Within days of contacting the office the New York Post reported that one of Indig’s cell phones was seized.
Federal prosecutors are questioning De Blasio today and the New York Times reports that questioning will center around de Blasio’s relationship with Indig.
Bharara’s office refused comment on the notes or about the ongoing investigation of de Blasio.
By: Kings County Politics