More than three months after the city's correction commissioner was pushed out in the wake of a scandal, his long-awaited replacement has finally been named. But the mayor did not search far to find his successor. NY1 Political Reporter Courtney Gross filed the following report.
During her two years at the city's Department of Correction, Cynthia Brann has typically stayed behind the scenes — until now.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed her as the new head of the beleaguered department.
"The offer was made to Acting Commissioner Brann because as we evaluated her work and talked through with her vision, I became convinced she was the right person for the job," de Blasio said.
Expect controversy. For one, Brann was engulfed in the same scandal that sent her predecessor packing earlier this year.
While Joseph Ponte was using his city car to drive to Maine, an investigation found Brann was using her city vehicle for personal use too, including for shopping trips across the region.
That scandal appeared to push Ponte out, even as the mayor said he was just retiring.
Still, Brann stayed behind. She was named acting commissioner in June.
"Commissioner Ponte made a lot of progress," the mayor said. "Commissioner Brann will continue that progress."
Brann will take the reins at Rikers Island during a turbulent time — a spike in violence, a promise to shut down the jail complex, and a continuing feud with the union are all on deck.
"At the end of the day, she has had three or four years to watch her predecessor fail, and if that is not a recipe for success, then I don't know what is," said Elias Husamudeen, the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
For now, the union appears open to Brann's leadership. Advocates have a different take.
"We are disappointed the mayor has instead chosen to go with someone from Mr. Ponte's team, who has not demonstrated a track record of reform," said Janos Marton of JustLeadership USA.
Now that Brann officially has the job, it is time for the more difficult work of trying to repair the department's relationship with the union and actually reducing violence on Rikers Island.