Why former city official says de Blasio fired him as political punishment

A former deputy commissioner for the city says Mayor Bill de Blasio
isn’t telling the truth about why he was fired. In an exclusive
television interview, Ricardo Morales charges that he was terminated
because he wouldn’t give preferential treatment to a de Blasio
campaign donor. Juan Manuel Benítez has the story.

Ricardo Morales is pushing back after Mayor de Blasio said he was
fired because of his performance.

“That’s nonsense, that’s falsehood,” Morales told me.
“I followed the rules, and for that I got a political punishment.”

As a deputy commissioner of the Department of Citywide
Administrative Services (DCAS), Morales led negotiations with Harendra
Singh, a de Blasio campaign donor and owner of a now-closed restaurant
in Long Island City, Water’s Edge.

Morales said that Singh had access to the mayor’s team, and when the
negotiations didn’t go his way:

“They took the negotiations — very complex litigation, complex
land-use transaction — out of the hands of the experts, corporation
counsel, our own counsel at DCAS, the experts at DCAS, and put it in
the hands of City Hall,” Morales said.

In his weekly NY1 segment, “Mondays with the Mayor,” de
Blasio fired back at Morales.

“It’s not surprising that someone would try to take whatever
action they thought was in their own interest, but I feel very good
about the overall situation,” de Blasio told NY1’s Errol Louis.
“We handled things appropriately.”

This case was the subject of a federal investigation that ended with
no criminal charges for the mayor or his team.

Morales was fired Feb. 24, the same day de Blasio spoke to prosecutors.

“They acted unethically — not illegally, because that’s already
been looked at,” Morales said.

Through a Notice of Claim sent to the city comptroller’s office,
Morales is asking the city for $5 million in damages and back pay.

“The mayor said that I was doing this because I wanted money,
and, two, because I had an axe to grind,” Morales said. “I’m
a Catholic man, a Christian man; I don’t believe in vengeance, and I
don’t believe in avarice. I am not looking for a pay day, either. I’m
looking for justice.”

Morales has received several awards for his work in a professional
career that spans over two decades and three mayoral administrations. 

Asked whether de Blasio deserves reelection, Morales said that’s a
decision for voters to make.