Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters Co-Author Article for the New York Law Journal on the Importance of Oversight of the CARES Act

May 6, 2020

Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters co-authored an article for The New York Law Journal titled, “The Importance of Oversight of the CARES Act.”

The article delves into why a massive spending program such as the CARES Act needs close oversight to protect it against fraud.

Lesley and Mark served as First Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner at the New York City Department of Investigation during the rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy and spent over a decade prosecuting fraud in other government spending programs including 9/11 recovery, the WIC program and Social Security. Through their experience on these programs, they note that massive spending programs are invariably victimized by fraud.

As the authors state, fraud against CARES Act programs can take many forms, including the following:

  • Fraudulent applications for small business loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—the part of the CARES Act giving $350 billion to small businesses
  • Failure to spend money awarded under PPP for permissible purposes
  • Fake lending institutions that claim to process federal loans but really steal customers’ identities and money.

Learn more and read the full article.

Peters Brovner Sues City to Require Planning Transparency

Press release 

Feb 24, 2020

Lawsuit Challenges De Blasio Administration’s Proposal to Curb Hotel Development in New York City

Administration Acted in “Bad Faith” by Attempting to Hide the Economic Impact of the Proposal by Restricting Public Analysis to Only One Area of the City Despite Plans to Apply Proposal Citywide 

Plaintiff Seeks Full Public Accounting of the Impact of the Administration’s Citywide Plan to Require Special Permits for All Future Hotel Construction 

Late last year the De Blasio administration green-lighted a proposal to require that new hotels in the Union Square district obtain “special permits” prior to construction. This is the latest step in what the Mayor, during a rally at the Hotel Trades Council, admitted was a plan to require such special permits for all new hotels to be built anywhere in New York City. The special permit process is so onerous – requiring ULURP review and City Council approval – that it will essentially preclude any new hotel construction.

Hotels and new hotel construction support one of New York City’s most vital industries, tourism. Tourism pumps $46 billion into New York City’s economy, supporting over 300,000 jobs and providing more than $6 billion in City and State tax revenue. Tourism has been increasing rapidly each year and requires additional hotel construction to support it. The Mayor’s special permit requirement would prevent such new construction and thus limit future revenue the City could obtain from one of its largest industries.

Read full press release.

De Blasio vs. Honest Government: Why is the Mayor at war With a City Council eEfort to Ensure Truthful Testimony?

New York Daily News.

Article by Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters

February 21, 2020

Over the past three years, the country has witnessed an erosion of democratic norms in Washington, the president’s recent refusal to allow witnesses to testify at his impeachment trial being just one prominent example. Unfortunately, we may be seeing this disturbing trend play out in local government here in New York as well.

Earlier this month, the de Blasio administration came out in opposition to a proposed law that would require New York City officials who testified before the City Council to correct the record if they subsequently discover that their testimony was inaccurate. The bill was designed to close a loophole that exists because, while the law clearly prohibits making knowingly false statements during testimony, it does not create an obligation to correct false statements that might have been made unknowingly.

Read full article.

Two Troubling Trends Collide in City Homeless Outsourcing

Gotham Gazette

Article by Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters

December 12, 2019

Last week the City of Newark sued New York City over New York’s placement of more than a thousand homeless individuals and families in Newark, through the city’s Special One Time Assistance (SOTA) program. Under the program, New York City employed private brokers to find homes for the families in New Jersey and elsewhere, and, without checking to see if the homes were habitable, paid a full year’s rent in advance and left families to live there. The result was thousands of families sent out of the city into homes that were uninhabitable.

See full article.

What Challenges Will New Police Commissioner Face?

CBS New York Highlights

Mark Peters

November 6, 2019

Mark Peters explains the implications of NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill stepping down, and the challenges his replacement – Dermot Shea – will face.

Watch full clip.

How to fix this insane mess: Where de Blasio should look in his 30-day review of how the city handles serious mental illness

New York Daily News

By Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters

October 21, 2019

In response to the murders of four people in Chinatown and the subsequent violent attack on a 6-year-old boy in Queens, both allegedly by mentally ill homeless men, Mayor de Blasio announced a 30-day review of how the city uses intensive mental health interventions to make sure potentially violent people struggling with serious psychological problems receive the treatment they need.

If the mayor is serious about meaningful reform here are some of the fundamental issues the review must consider.

The first problem is the most obvious: The number of homeless in the city is increasing every year, and according to the Coalition for the Homeless has almost doubled in the last decade. To be clear, not all of the homeless have mental health issues and not all people with mental health issues are violent. That said, people living on the street who do struggle psychologically are unlikely to get the ongoing and continuous services they need, which frequently puts them on a dangerous downward spiral.

See full article.

Private contractors require better government oversight

 City and State New York

By Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters

August 21, 2019

In late July, it was revealed that the Federal Aviation Administration had functionally outsourced safety checks on the doomed 737 Max to the airplane’s manufacturer, Boeing. The FAA relied on Boeing to conduct safety analyses on the new planes and failed to rigorously oversee the process. Moreover, the FAA never fully understood the intricacies of the safety issues involved. The tragic results, two crashes and a grounded fleet, have been well documented.

Also last month, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report that found the “MTA’s homeless outreach program didn’t do much outreach.” While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spent millions to have a nonprofit provide services to homeless people who live at Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, the nonprofit workers did an average of only 2.2 hours of outreach per shift, spent most of their time in an office, which they often kept closed, and filed false and incomplete daily reports. The comptroller’s office found that the MTA did little to oversee the program, resulting in failures that posed dangers to both homeless people and commuters.

See full article.

What Does Pantaleo’s Firing Mean For The NYPD?

 CBS New York

Mark Peters

August 19, 2019

In this CBS New York segment, Mark Peters discusses the possible implications of Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s firing.

Watch full clip.

The Root NYCHA Problem: A Culture of Disengagement & Dysfunction

 Gotham Gazette

By Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters

July 29, 2019

Last week the federal NYCHA monitor issued his first quarterly report. It was a scathing indictment of the agency, describing “putrid liquid” spilling into a laundry room and rats scurrying through a 14-floor high garbage compactor. As one resident explained, “we are hostages in our own homes at night…due to rats that are the size of cats.”

But as disturbing as these examples are, the most important finding was less graphic but ultimately more dangerous:  A systemic culture of failing to take responsibility. NYCHA, the monitor found, was simply unable to proactively recognize and tackle problems, and in many instances showed little interest in even making the attempt.

For example, NYCHA initially explained that it could not fix the leaking of putrid liquid because scaffolding was needed to complete the job. After the monitor made inquiries, the problem was solved in a matter of hours using a ladder.

Further, to this day, NYCHA cannot accurately identify (or even quantify) the number of children living in apartments with potentially dangerous levels of lead paint. Indeed, NYCHA cannot even accurately quantify the total number of people actually living in NYCHA’s apartments. While NYCHA continues to insist it has 400,000 residents, the Department of Sanitation estimates the number, based on waste produced, is closer to 600,000.

See full article.

The NYPD’s broken promise on rape: The Special Victims Division is understaffed, lacks resources and has shuttered its cold-case unit

New York Daily News

Article by Lesley Brovner and Mark Peters

July 19, 2019

Last month, a New Jersey appeals court overturned an egregiously bad decision by a family court judge who had refused to try a 16-year old rapist as an adult because he came from a “good family” and attended an “excellent school.” The judge further downplayed the rape because the victim knew her attacker and it did not occur “at gunpoint.” The judge went on to inexplicably observe that he felt it important to “distinguish between a sexual assault and a rape.”

The judge has just resigned, but his thinking is not an outlier, even within certain parts of law enforcement. Indeed, in 2017, an NYPD precinct captain told a community meeting that the increasing rate of acquaintance rape was “not a trend we’re too worried about.” He added that “if there’s a true stranger rape, a random guy picks up a stranger off the street, those are the troubling ones.” By contrast, he said acquaintance rapes are not “total abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the street.”

See full article.

Justice Department Investigating Death Of Jeffrey Epstein In Jail

CBS New York

Mark Peters

August 12,2019

In this CBS New York clip, Mark Peters discusses what authorities will be looking for in the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide. Watch full clip.