New York City mayor responds to Rivington scandal, redacted emails

There are new developments Wednesday in the fund-raising investigation connected to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A battle between two City Hall agencies has erupted over the release of emails related to a former nursing home for AIDS patients on the Lower East Side.

The mayor insisted that there was no cover-up and that internal emails from his City Hall staff -- with blacked-out passages and entire paragraphs marked "NR" for "not relevant" -- were exactly that.

The emails pertain to Rivington House, which was sold to a developer to build luxury condos despite the fact that it had a deed restriction preventing the conversion.

It was later learned that city officials quietly lifted the restriction after accepting $16 million from the new owners, who then flipped the property for $116 million.

Although the mayor and his staff expressed surprise, the emails appear to show that senior staff understood that condo conversion was at least an option.

They were not among the documents first turned over to the the city's Department of Investigation by city attorney Zachary Carter, who has now provided all of the documents.

"I am pleased that the law department decided to comply with the law," DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said. "And I am proud of the DOI staff who doggedly pursued access to these records."

The mayor admits that the deed restriction should never have been lifted, blaming it on an oversight.

"A mistake was made based on an old, outdated and inappropriate policy," he said. "We are changing that policy. It's never going to happen again."

But City Council member Margaret Chin said that's not good enough.

"It's just really troubling," she said. "To see that the city could have done something to save this building."

A stop-work order has been issued on the project.
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