City Comptroller Scott Stringer wants to regain his oversight of city contracts — a power that was suspended to fast track the purchase of emergency coronavirus supplies — after a major political donor to Mayor Bill de Blasio obtained a $90 million deal that he couldn’t fulfill.
“It has been reported that a number of COVID-19 related contracts worth tens of millions of dollars have been canceled or not fulfilled,” Stringer wrote.
“These same reports also indicate that many of these contracts were with vendors that lack the necessary capacity or relevant experience, or even have criminal backgrounds. Given these facts, it is imperative that my office resume its Charter-mandated role of safeguarding taxpayer funds.”
The Post and other outlets reported that de Blasio donor Charles Tebele, whose Digital Gadgets company sells computer accessories, failed to deliver a $91 million city contract for N95 masks and ventilators in March at the height of the start of the pandemic.
And in April, city officials awarded a $14 million no-bid contract for the delivery of food aid to the head of a Connecticut hauling company who’d pleaded guilty just weeks earlier to attempted tax felony, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The deals were not subject to regular laws and regulations because de Blasio signed an executive order in mid-March creating an emergency procurement system that temporarily suspended the rules.
On Tuesday, Stringer said it’s time for his oversight powers to be reinstated because of the city has the lowest coronavirus indicators since the start of the crisis and emergency contracts for PPE are down to just 3 percent of all procurements compared to 20 percent in April.
De Blasio disagreed.
“We are far from out of this crisis,” the mayor said during a remote City Hall press briefing.
“I think we need all the tools and all the flexibility we can to make sure we have what we need when we need it,” the mayor insisted.
The city has already doled out $1.5 billion in emergency coronavirus contracts, according to Stringer.
The comptroller says administration officials have not routinely submitted required documentation for those orders.