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Bill Thompson, right, takes over an authority many want to shut down (Page 6),

Vol. 4, No. 14

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April 26, 2010

20 THE

MOST

INFLUENTIAL

UNELECTEDS THAT MOST NEW YORKERS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF

John Lindsay’s image gets an attempted makeover (Page 22) and Peter Elkind, above, dissects Eliot Spitzer (Page 23).


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APRIL 26, 2010

CITY HALL

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While Questioning His Commitment, Critics Pick Apart Powell’s Candidacy Hopefuls begin circling Assembly seat, as would-be Harlem heir looks to Congress BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS

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“Legacy people are different,” one Manhattan Democrat said. “It’s almost like they think it’s their birthright.” But some are not so sure. “I don’t know whether Adam is really going to run,” said Council Member Robert Jackson. “If I’m Adam, I don’t know if I’m willing to give up my seat, knowing realistically that I’m not going to win.” Several theories have emerged. One says Powell is setting the stage for a later campaign, after Rangel has either officially retired or declined to run for re-election. By running this year, Powell can get a better sense of where he has support in the district and what areas still need shoring up. Then, after Rangel retires, Powell can run again with a deeper knowledge of where in particular he needs to concentrate his efforts. But the theory has several flaws,

DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN

dam Clayton Powell IV is banking on a number of factors in his uphill primary battle against Rep. Charlie Rangel: an empowered Latino voter base seeking to overthrow the black political establishment in Harlem, the anti-incumbency mood among voters, Rangel’s legal and ethical misfortunes continuing to pile up, and, of course, the most famous name in Harlem politics, which is all over street signs and buildings in the district. Powell is also expecting the Harlem political machine, including the local county party and other Rangel loyalists, to strongly oppose his effort. It is a fight, he says, he is itching to have. “Fact is, I’ve always run against the political machine,” Powell said. “I’m not beholden to any county leader or any political clubhouse.” Meanwhile, the community’s powerbase is left scratching their heads over Powell’s real motivation behind running. Powell himself acknowledges his race is fraught with high expectations and formidable obstacles. Nonetheless, he reiterated his commitment to give up his safe seat in the Assembly for a chance at Rangel’s office.

Adam Clayton Powell dismissed the notion that he was running to avenge his family name or settle an old political score. considering an open race for Rangel’s seat is likely to attract many of the district’s officials that for now are content to wait for the congressman’s retirement. “You have other Assembly members, senators, all from around the district that are going to skew your numbers,” one political operative said. “You’re not going to be able to trust those numbers.” There is speculation that Powell, the son of the famed congressman who lost his seat to a much younger Rangel in 1971, is compelled by a sense of familial pride to run for the seat. Powell tried once before, losing to Rangel in a landslide in 1994 (back in his political operative days, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was Rangel’s campaign manager). Nonetheless, the next day, Powell threw himself a victory parade. Powell dismissed the notion that he was running to avenge his father, and said he was upset to see the media play up that angle. “That just gets overplayed, man,” he

said. “Anyone in my shoes, with any other name, it would be a natural progression for them to run for Congress.” One of the main reasons Powell cites as motivation for running is rumors he claims are circulating in political circles that Rangel will resign after winning re-election and allow party leaders to manipulate the special election for his successor. “That would be the height of hypocrisy,” Powell said. But a similar rumor is dogging Powell. Rangel supporters openly question whether Powell would support a placeholder candidate for his Assembly seat, which he will have to abandon to run for Congress. If Rangel stays in the race, Powell could convince the placeholder to drop out and the placeholder’s committee on vacancies to give him the spot, putting him back in the race for his Assembly seat. Powell scoffed at the idea, calling it “amazing.”

“I don’t believe these jobs should be forever,” he said. “I’m ready to try to serve my people in another level. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look at plan B, but certainly it’s not coming back to the Assembly.” That should come as good news to the 10 or so candidates who have expressed interest in running for his Assembly seat. In the week since Powell’s announcement, a handful of district leaders, community board members, neighborhood activists, legislative staffers and perennial candidates have either announced their intention to run or have expressed interest in the seat. Powell said he will stay out of the race to succeed him. Among the names being floated are Marion Bell, a member of Community Board 11; Robert Rodriguez, who ran against Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito last year; Evette Zayas, Powell’s chief-of-staff; Johnny Rivera, director of community outreach at Mt. Sinai Medical Center; District Leader and 2005 Council candidate John Ruiz; Eddie Baca, another CB 11 member; and East Harlem activist Eddie Gibbs. Zayas, Rodriguez and Ruiz are planning on announcing their intentions to run, while others say they are still mulling their options. Rangel supporters see this as an opportunity to put a friendly face in that office. But considering the number of district leaders that are potentially running, sources close to Assembly Member Keith Wright, chair of Manhattan county party, predict that the party organization will stay neutral. While Powell could quietly lend clout to Zayas’ campaign, Rodriguez could benefit from support he accrued during his run for Council last year, when he came within 2,000 votes of defeating Mark Viverito. Mark Viverito, who denied having any interest in the seat herself, said Powell’s move creates an opportunity for change in the district. “I’m interested in having somebody there who can be a true partner with me,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have that, and have not had that for the past four years.” Some of the candidates for the Assembly seat say they are worried about political blowback from Powell’s run against Rangel, especially as Harlemites remain skeptical about Powell’s intentions on staying in the race. Zayas, for one, finds herself in a unique position, as Powell’s chief-ofstaff and a candidate for his seat. She said that when talking to voters in the district, she has to answer almost as many questions about Powell’s campaign as her own. “Sometimes I jokingly say to my friends, ‘Don’t hold it against me,’” Zayas said of her boss’s ambitions. “I’m a separate individual.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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APRIL 26, 2010

With Role In DC In Question, Carrión Eyes LG Run Carrión said to be reaching out to Cuomo about candidacy BY CHRIS BRAGG

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am delighted to be home. I am thrilled to be home,” said Adolfo Carrión, the former Bronx borough president, as he kicked off a keynote address at the Waldorf Astoria before the Regional Plan Association. “So many friends in the audience. It’s good to be home.” Carrión, talked about as a possible mayoral candidate for 2013, has not been home much lately: for the past year he has been in Washington serving as President Barack Obama’s first director of the newly created Office of Urban Affairs. The office was set up to implement a more urban-friendly long-term agenda across the country by coordinating urban policy between federal agencies. But a return home may be in the works. In recent weeks, Carrión has been reaching out to people close to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the expected Democratic nominee for governor, about running as his lieutenant governor, according to a person who has spoken to Carrión about his plans. “I think he’s giving it really serious consideration,” the person said. “He’s made calls to people close to Andrew.” Carrión denies this. But still, the talk continues. As a lieutenant governor candidate, Carrión would likely help draw Hispanic support for Cuomo, though he would not add regional balance to the ticket that upstate contenders like someone such as Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown would. Cuomo is expected to pick his running mate at or just ahead of the Democratic State Convention, which begins May 25. Carrión would get back into the New York media spotlight by serving as lieutenant governor, said Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. Carrión has been largely out of the local news over the past year. “It would certainly add ethnic balance to the ticket and it would get Adolfo Carrión right back in the thick of things,” he said. “You can’t run for mayor from Washington.” Carrión, meanwhile, did not completely disclose the possibility of running. “There are issues here in New York state and the New York region that are obviously very important to me personally as a New York resident—certainly, it’s my hometown—but I’m happy at the White House doing this job,” he said in an interview. “It’s a big job to do, there’s very little time to have any political considerations.” But Carrión’s chances of getting a nod from Cuomo could be derailed by questions arising from a series of Daily News articles last year revealing that Carrión approved contracts as borough

DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN

president for a developer who did free work on Carrión’s home. (Carrión eventually paid for the work.) During the first three months on the job in Washington, he did not make a single public appearance, coinciding with the time the questions were raised about the free work done on his home. Some observers have questioned the limited role Carrión has appeared to play in the Obama administration, feeding speculation that this could also be a factor in Carrión’s apparent interest in running for lieutenant governor. As Rep. John Mica of Florida, a Republican who is the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, watched Carrión speak in Manhattan, he said that Carrión was a virtual unknown among those in Congress. “I think that this is the first time I’ve seen him,” Mica said. Some observers say Carrión’s duties overlap with those of Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s head of intergovernmental affairs, who is also charged with breaking the “silos” between federal agencies, though with a broader focus. In addition, some federal agency heads have formed new, more urban-friendly

policies independent of Carrión, including former New York City housing commissioner Shaun Donovan, now the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Diana Lind, editor and publisher of Next American City, a national magazine that covers urban policy. HUD has a staff of some 5,000 people. Carrión’s office, meanwhile, has a staff of only four. He does not have any formal lawmaking or policymaking responsibilities. A lack of formal power has limited Carrión’s influence, but Lind said that despite the limits of his office, questions also still remained about whether someone besides Carrión who would have had a stronger policy background could have played a bigger role. “If there were a different director, maybe they would have been capable of pressuring the Obama administration,” Lind said. Instead, Carrión’s role has largely evolved into traveling around the country to promote his new office and bring information from local officials back to Washington, Lind said. During one recent week, Carrión met with the new mayor of

Atlanta, flew to New Orleans to speak with the new mayor there, spoke at Harvard, met with the mayor of Boston, then came to New York City for the speech at the Waldorf Astoria. Carrión said he had been happy with his role in the administration, noting that when he first convened an intergovernmental meeting of departments that deal with urban policies, 17 of them showed up, instead of the expected 10, and that these meetings have continued regularly. He said this shows the president’s enthusiasm for pursuing an urban-friendly agenda. “He created this office. He empowered us to go around the country and bring in all the stakeholders,” Carrión said. “We’ve organized 17—not 10—federal agencies in a working group on urban policy.” Carrion added that his achievements were even more remarkable given where Washington’s attention has been focused over the last year. “We’ve achieved a great deal in a short time in the shadow of health care,” he said. “Obviously health care took all the oxygen out of the room. And the president will recognize that.” cbragg@cityhallnews.com

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APRIL 26, 2010

Charges Fly About Battery Park Authority As Thompson Plugs Into New Role City takeover, disbandment, IG report loom for former comptroller’s landing spot BY CHRIS BRAGG

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Thompson is also now in a different position than he was as comptroller, he noted. Because of the deal, though, Thompson said only $20 million to $30 million of additional revenues would come into the city annually from the authority if there were a city takeover of Battery Park City. He is also concerned about the city’s ability to maintain the current level of services to its residents if the city assumed responsibility. “We’d have to look at it in the long run,” Thompson said. “It’s also the services that are provided to the residents of Battery Park City. With [the city taking over], obviously, you’re wondering if that’s going to continue.” In the midst of these controversies, the Inspector General’s report on wasteful spending by authority employees of

“The mission of the authority also is in the maintenance, is in the running of Battery Park City,” said new authority chair Bill Thompson. “Should that end? I don’t know that anyone knows the answer right now.”

DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN

he original chair of the Battery Park City Authority, Charles Urstadt, now wants the agency disbanded. The authority’s recently retired chair, Jim Gill, left the job because nearly all the land in Battery Park City has been developed, and Gill said he had no work left do. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, is strongly considering exercising New York City’s long-held option to buy Battery Park City from the state for $1. And over the past year, the state Inspector General’s office has been investigating alleged financial abuses by authority staff, from lavish meals, to private cars, to a “love nest” apartment. But Bill Thompson, the 2009 Democratic mayoral nominee who was appointed to the authority’s board by Gov. David Paterson and elected chair in late March by the board’s other members, said he is unfazed by all the problems on his plate. Having served as head of the Board of Education in the 1990s, Thompson said, he has been in sticky situations before. “That was not easy, okay?” Thompson said, chuckling. Like the Board of Education that Thompson headed just before the advent of mayoral control, the Battery Park City Authority also may be on the advent of structural upheaval. Urstadt, the first chair of the authority, believes he was removed from the board by Gov. Paterson and replaced by Thompson precisely because of his outspokenness about the need to eliminate the authority. Urstadt says the real reason for the authority’s continued $30 million budget is its utility as a patronage mill, with the payroll including six former members of the Pataki administration. Urstadt said the authority’s budget could easily be cut in half, with the remaining $15 million used primarily to maintain the authority’s expansive green spaces. But he said it was natural for Thompson, as the new chairman, not to want to eliminate the authority, especially with his candidacy in the 2013 mayor’s race already announced. “You’ve got an effective profit of $200 million a year. You get to give out jobs,” Urstadt said. “Nobody wants to give that up.” Thompson, however, said the reason he has reservations about eliminating the authority is that while most of the building has been completed on the authority’s 92 acres, the services provided to the thousands of people that work and live there have to be accounted for also. “The mission of the authority also

CITY HALL

Bill Thompson is now in charge of whatever remains of the Battery Park City Authority is in the maintenance, is in the running of Battery Park City,” Thompson said. “Should that end? I don’t know that anyone knows the answer right now.” Urstadt also favors the Bloomberg administration’s tentative plan to try and buy Battery Park City for $1, which he said would speed the authority towards disbandment. Proponents of this option point to the fact that the city could then tap into $1 billion in expected revenues from selling off commercial leases there. Thompson said he also has reservations about a city takeover, though, in part because the amount of revenue for the city could add up to far less than $1 billion. The authority makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profits through rent payments on state-owned land. This

excess money is supposed to go to the city for affordable housing, but has often been used instead to fill budget gaps. Under a deal Thompson signed off on during his first meeting as chair of the authority, the city and state would each take $200 million of the authority’s excess this year to fill budget gaps. But the city is getting an additional $200 million for housing and has been promised another $200 million for capital projects. The total value of the sweeps from authority surpluses is expected to be $861 million. Thompson had refused to sign off on a similar deal when he was city comptroller, but said that tweaks made to ensure funding went to affordable housing, as well as the city’s and state’s worsening budget situation, had changed his mind. As a board appointee of Gov. Paterson,

excess authority money is expected to come out in the near future. The investigation was sparked when Debra Bogosian, the authority’s former controller who was fired in 2008, reported spending abuses by authority employees. At the board’s first meeting with Thompson as chair in late March, Thompson promised there would be a great effort to share information about the investigation. Some board members were upset last year when they had trouble getting information about the investigation from Jim Cavanaugh, the president and CEO of the authority, and Gill, the board chairman. As the board waits for the investigation, though, Gill questioned its entire premise. He said the quasi-public authority should be able to spend the money as it pleases. “The fact of the matter is that Battery Park City doesn’t get a nickel from the state. We get nothing, so we should get to run our own business,” Gill said. Gill said that, far from being investigated, the authority should be praised for running such a wellmaintained, pristine community while also turning a huge profit for the city and state. “So how is it that the state is being abused? We are the state’s great cash cow,” Gill said. “If this were a private corporation, they would carry the Battery Park City board around in a chair.” cbragg@cityhallnews.com

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CITY HALL

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Push-And-Pull Over School Closures As Court Ruling Gives Advocates A Reprieve BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS

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ayor Michael Bloomberg’s January announcement of plans to close 19 city schools prompted a series of raucous public hearings, often stretching into the dead of night, with angry residents demanding that the mayor and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein reverse course. In the end, all 19 schools were approved for closure.

Until, suddenly, they were not. In late March, New York Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis ruled that the city had engaged in “significant violations” under the new state law governing mayoral control, essentially forcing the DOE to start the process over again. The city has appealed the judge’s decision, arguing the court’s ruling was “based on errors of law and fact.” But many of those who opposed the city’s plan feel they can use this interim period to not only improve schools slated for closure, but also change the way the city approaches the process of phasing out schools altogether. Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, has recently dispatched teams of union members to each of the 19 schools to assist parents and teachers through the limbo process while the city’s appeal works its way through the system. The end goal, he said, is to develop an action plan for each school, many of which have homeless and immigrant students, that would improve their standing and help prevent future closings. “That’s what the school system is supposed to be doing,” Mulgrew said. “I think it’s a little sad that we have to do it.” UFT is working alongside the Coalition of Educational Justice and NYC Communities for Change, the entity formerly known as ACORN, to assess the individual needs of each school, as well as to delve deeper into why each school was failing to meet city standards. “If the DOE recognizes there’s issues, they should be in there helping the schools, which they have been reluctant to do,” Mulgrew said. The Department says it is focused on helping place those students who listed one of the “phase-out” schools on their high school applications in better schools. This year, over 8,000 students listed one of the schools originally slated for phaseout as one of their 12 choices on their applications, but only 916 students listed a phase-out as their first choice. “We are disappointed by the Court’s ruling, which, unless it is reversed, requires the Department of Education to keep open schools that are failing our

children,” Danny Kanner, a DOE spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail. “We are committed to creating better schools for all of our children, and will continue to engage parents and community leaders as we build on the remarkable progress we’ve made in improving student outcomes.” The city has closed 91 schools since 2002, when Bloomberg first took control of the school system. Closing schools that fail to meet the city’s standards has been a key aspect of Bloomberg’s approach to education. In the place of these closed schools, DOE has set up charter schools or smaller public schools that the city says routinely post better graduation rates and test scores than larger schools. But the mayor’s affinity for charter schools has led many critics to suspect that school closures are little more than a plot to replace as many public schools with charters as possible. Oral arguments in the court proceedings are scheduled to be heard later in April. Until then, the DOE says it is moving ahead with its plan to create new, smaller schools to replace the 19 failing schools. That may come as news to a number of elected officials, who charge the DOE with shutting them out of the process. Council Member Robert Jackson, who chairs the Education Committee, recently introduced a resolution that would recommend the creation of “turnaround zones,” to allow struggling schools a chance to improve student performance before opting for closure. Jackson noted that even if the resolution passed, the DOE is not required to follow its guidelines. “If they were smart, they’d listen,” Jackson said. “When these schools fail, the chancellor fails, the mayor fails, we all fail.” Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, who has been working with two schools slated for closure in her Northern Manhattan district, says she has been unable to engage the DOE at all while the ruling is under appeal. “There’s a lot of pieces here that I’m just not fully aware of,” Mark Viverito said. “It’s a constant adversarial, antagonistic relationship.” Since Judge Lomis’ ruling, though, morale at the 19 schools scheduled for phase-out has lifted. Sharren Carrington, president of the Parent-Teacher Association at W.H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School in Brooklyn, said she was disappointed when the DOE targeted her child’s school for closure, but felt a renewed sense of purpose after the court’s decision. “You got to do what you got to do,” Carrington said. “Up until this point, we haven’t had a lot of help from the DOE. But we’re going to fight whether we get it or not.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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APRIL 26, 2010

CAPITAL PROJECTS ARE A JOB STIMULUS Building Trades Employers Association

A Message from Louis J. Coletti, President & CEO, Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA)

Recent policy decisions by state government leaders to suspend selected road and transportation projects currently under construction, and the MTA’s consideration of transferring funds from their capital budget to cover operational shortfalls, will only increase unemployment in an industry already being devastated by this economy. According to the NYS Department of Labor and other sources, unemployment in the construction industry is at a 58 month high with almost 40% of New York City building trade members unemployed today. This is devastating to our economy because construction has the highest economic multiplier of any industrial sector. For each new construction project we create, three additional jobs become available and workers on a project benefit the local economy because they each lunch near their work site and buy goods and services locally. Based on these facts in this difficult economy, why are state government leaders halting several road and bridge projects already under construction? Why is the MTA seriously considering the elimination or delay of badly needed transportation projects to plug holes in their operating budget? Aren’t these projects being paid with capital dollars that are outside the operating budget, meaning they should have no impact whatsoever on the operating budget? And isn’t the use of capital finances for operating costs the same formula that produced the near bankruptcy of New York City in the 1970’s? What are the contractors working on these delayed projects in New York State supposed to do? If they stop construction, they risk having the state default their contract because, as far as I know, the state has not waived that clause. Do they just keep building and absorb the costs of their payroll and equipment in the HOPE that they will get paid relatively soon? In case you were unaware, the banking and finance community is not only refusing to loan money to the private real estate community, but they are refusing to extend the credit lines of contractors they have being doing business with for 20 years. As a result, this puts too many contractors at a higher risk of bankruptcy. So why would public policy makers take such action? I can think of only one reason: the construction industry is a victim of a high stakes political strategy to either get a state budget passed or convince leaders more funding is needed for capital programs. Public leaders need to address the real issue – the need to reduce expenditures—and that starts with the public unions. Have any of them had their pay frozen or reduced? Their fringe benefits cut back? Were they asked to contribute to their health care or pension plans? Employees of contractors have been doing exactly these things for over a year. The private sector building and construction trades have worked hard to create new job opportunities for their members and the contractors they work for with private sector and NYC public sector Project Labor Agreements. Public policy leaders must face reality. They need to address the key issues first before they make bad decisions that will lead to higher unemployment and the bankruptcy of too many contractors, especially those small and mid-size construction firms which banks are loathe to help anyway. I know it is difficult to make those kinds of decisions because someone will always get hurt in some shape or fashion. But solving this financial crisis should not be balanced on the backs of contractors and building trade union members who have already made, and are continuing to make, sacrifices others have not.

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APRIL 26, 2010

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CITY HALL

One Year Later, Plan To Reverse Condo Boom A Bust HPD extends deadline for proposals, as lawmakers call for money to be shifted elsewhere BY SAL GENTILE

begin to feel pressure to generate at least a modest cash flow. And if the recovery in New York proves slower, or less steep, than many had expected, developers might decide that they have no choice but to take the offer of HARP funds, restrictions and all. “If HARP is not working, is it likely to work in the future? I think the answer is, it’s unlikely,” said Michelle da la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, which was involved at the early stages of the program. “But as things draw out, as the economic rebound is kind of slow, then for some people it may make sense to turn to HARP.”

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hen Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development unveiled a $20 million pilot program last year to turn empty condos into affordable units, some feared the project would be a windfall for reckless developers. A year later, officials say, the money has not been spent on real estate mogul bailouts. Instead, it has not been spent at all. The Housing Asset Renewal Program, lauded for its creativity and market-based approach, has to date failed to generate a single deal. Banks and developers who

once offered support for the plan have shown scant interest, content to ride out the recession and hope for a recovery in the city’s housing market. “Somebody has to be willing to, essentially, take less,” said Jerilyn Perine, a former city housing commissioner in the Bloomberg administration and executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. Perine cautioned that officials should not be criticized for attempting a novel solution to the city’s housing crisis, and said that the program’s failure might be seen as an indication that the market is once again experiencing an upswing. “Because they have some confidence in New York, and in New York’s ability to have the housing market come back, nobody is eager to say, ‘Yes, I’m going to take 50 cents on my dollar investment,’” Perine said. Others have taken the failure of the program to mean that the so-called “market-driven” approach favored by housing officials, especially at the city and federal level, has not worked. As even HPD officials admit, the pilot program was designed to gauge market interest rather than force private developers to provide affordable housing. “Most developers have said the money is insufficient and that there’s too many restrictions,” said Council Member Letitia James, who had identified a number of stalled projects in her district that might be appropriate candidates for the program. “If the economy is improving, the question is whether they’re going to take advantage of HARP.” With that prospect seeming less likely by the day, James and others have suggested the city suspend the program now and divert its $20 million pot of money to other urgent housing needs. The New York City Housing Authority,

“Most developers have said the money is insufficient and that there’s too many restrictions,” said Council Member Letitia James, who had identified a number of stalled projects in her district that might be appropriate candidates for the program. “If the economy is improving, the question is whether they’re going to take advantage of HARP.”

for example, faces a $45 million budget gap, and has warned that it may have to revoke as many as 10,000 federal housing vouchers for low-income tenants. Some lawmakers have called on the city to use the $20 million allocated for HARP to fill that gap. But housing officials have balked, saying capital money should not be used to cover operating expenses. And they have extended the deadline for HARP proposals to July 1, indicating that the money will remain in HPD’s coffers until at least then.

Quinn’s office referred questions about HARP to the Housing Department. In a statement, Department spokesman Eric Bederman said: “We’re currently engaged in talks with several applicants, and because of increased interest in the program we have extended the Notice of Funding Availability.” Some advocates have continued to hold out hope that the program might still work. As the downturn drags on, officials said, developers with small portfolios that are heavy on luxury holdings might

Meanwhile, different methods are being explored. Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries said he is working with state housing officials on a plan to guarantee mortgages for banks that refinance their arrangements with developers. The hope is that banks will prize stability over profit, especially with buildings across the city falling into foreclosure. “The reason why we are taking the approach to encourage financial institutions—in some cases forcefully— to refinance mortgage loans is because that method will get us to maximize the amount of affordable apartments we can ultimately create,” Jeffries said. But Jeffries acknowledged that even his plan could prove unsuccessful if the housing market continues to recover. “As soon as the real estate market returns, we may also witness a revival of the irrational exuberance that created the housing bubble in the first place,” Jeffries said. “We are essentially involved in a race against time.” Direct letters to the editor to editors@cityhallnews.com.

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Fresh Off 91-Percent Win, Mulgrew Enters Ring For Next Administration Tangle BY CHRIS BRAGG

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ess than a week after winning election as United Federation of Teachers president with a Castroesque 91 percent of the vote, Michael Mulgrew reached a landmark deal with the Bloomberg administration to end the “rubber rooms” that had become an eyesore for both the union and the administration. The timing of the deal fed already existing speculation that, with the election over, Mulgrew might soften the confrontational approach he had taken towards the administration in the months since he was appointed to replace Randi Weingarten last July. But Mulgrew said that far from making him more likely to acquiesce, the results of the election only strengthen his hand in dealing with the Department of Education as the UFT continues to negotiate a new contract with the administration and to fight budget cuts. “It tells people very clearly that they can’t split apart the teachers,” Mulgrew said. Some observers expected that the new contract would have been finalized already, given the union’s controversial decision to stay neutral in last year’s mayor’s race. The union’s contract expired Oct. 31, just days before voters went to the polls. The two sides are currently in nonbinding mediation over the contract. Under the Triborough Amendment of the Taylor Law, the union’s members can continue to work without a contract indefinitely until a new agreement is hammered out. Norman Adler, a political consultant with strong ties to organized labor, said the delay appears to be a matter of timing more than anything. If the UFT gets another generous contract, this could set a bad precedent for the Bloomberg administration if it engages in pattern bargaining with other unions that have expired contracts, such as District

Council 37, he said. In addition, with the city and state budgets in flux, now would be a poor time to strike a new deal, Adler said. “If they come to terms now, they can’t possibly be very good,” Adler said. “They’re going to try and do it when things aren’t quite so bad.” One benefit of the rubber rooms for the UFT, Adler said, could be that it will take a contentious issue off the table as negotiations continue. Mulgrew was able to run up the huge margin of victory in the recent election, meanwhile, by appealing to the major dissident faction of the union, the New Action caucus, which has pushed for union leadership to take a harder line with the Bloomberg administration. The union recently filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education to try and stop the closure of 19 schools around the city, a move that endeared him to New Action. A judge has since blocked the school closings. This faction and Mulgrew have not always agreed. New Action leadership felt that the union should have endorsed Thompson in the mayor’s race rather than remaining neutral, a move that could have swung the closer-than-expected race. But in the end, New Action’s leadership decided they agreed with Mulgrew on more than they disagreed, especially on the school closings lawsuit. “The school closings campaign was really helpful,” Mulgrew said. Mulgrew’s opponent in the UFT presidency race, James Eterno, heads a second, smaller dissident faction called ICE/TJC that has broken away from New Action over a belief that it has ceased to be a true opposition party. Though Eterno has not always seen eye-to-eye with Mulgrew himself, he acknowledged that the huge margin of victory had to some extent validated Mulgrew’s approach so far. “His 91 percent, you can’t laugh about it,” Eterno said. “You can’t say it doesn’t mean anything.” cbragg@cityhallnews.com

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Our Perspective New Yorkers Need Living Wage Legislation By Stuart Appelbaum President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW

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ometimes you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, sometimes you do not.

For too long New Yorkers have been getting ripped off when developers use public money, taxpayer money, to build in this city.

At the Kingsbridge Armory, Related Companies was offered $90 million of public funds to build a mall there. But the company balked when the community demanded that the permanent jobs created pay a living wage instead of what the developer proposed: part-time jobs that pay poverty wages. Right now at the Queens Center Mall, one of the most profitable malls in the country, the owner, Macerich Company, receives more that $100 million in public It's the same subsidies and yet refuses to do anything story over and to create decent paying jobs at the mall. It’s the same story over and over again. Taxpayers give, developers take and the only thing produced is dead end, parttime, low-wage jobs that do nothing for the community. Well it’s time we did something about it. It’s time that New York joined cities like Los Angeles in requiring living wage jobs at publicly subsidized development projects.

Living wage legislation will put an end to the looting of city coffers for private gain. All we are asking is that when public money is used in development the public gets something in return — that workers employed at these developments be paid a minimum of $10.00 with benefits or $11.50 without. Certainly not too much to ask when some developers are making big profits by using tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to build. By passing a living wage law that ties public subsidies to the creation of good jobs, New York’s City Council will be making sure that city resources are used in a way that benefits all New Yorkers.

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over again. Taxpayers give, developers take and the only thing produced is dead end, part-time, low-wage jobs that do nothing for the community.

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APRIL 26, 2010

Independent City Pharmacists Try To Get Their Prescriptions Filled In Albany BY SELENA ROSS

New Summer Session Courses and Certificates in International Relations and United Nations Studies Beginning in summer 2010, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and School of Continuing Education (SCE) will offer courses and certificates in two concentrations, Critical Issues in International Relations and United Nations Studies. Courses can be taken independently upon admission to SCE or as part of a four-course certificate program. Seven courses will be mounted during two Summer Sessions. CRITICAL ISSUES IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

International Relations: Theory and Concepts • Intelligence and Special Operations US Foreign Policy • Terrorism and Counterterrorism UNITED NATIONS STUDIES

The United Nations: History and Practice of Security Council Sanctions The Security Council and Peacekeeping Operations in Africa in the 21st Century The UN and Development Summer Session One: May 24–July 2 Summer Session Two: July 6–August 13

ce.columbia.edu/SIPA3

“Construction of the Second Avenue Subway is ‘destroying every business’ in its wake... ‘It is literally destroying every business on Second Avenue... It is an economic disaster for the people who have stores and restaurants on Second Avenue and we have to find something to do for them.’” -Mayor Michael Bloomberg (NY Post 2/20/09)

3 years into the Second Avenue Subway construction and the losses are mounting •To date 18 businesses have closed between 90th and 96th St. •Over 100 local jobs have been lost. •Millions of dollars in revenue has been lost by the businesses in the “launch box” zone. As the construction is moving south from the 90’s to the 60’s he losses will keep on mounting unless we act.

We need your leadership •We need the MTA, DEP, DOT, Skanska, the New York City Department of Sanitation, the Department of Buildings and Con Edison to create a safer and less debris strewn work site so our customers will continue to patronize our businesses. •We need you to help landlords with tax abatements so they can keep their apartments occupied du ing the disruptive and ongoing construction period. •We need the city to provide tax abatement incentives that will allow affected local businesses to cope with the loss in revenue.

We need your leadership now Mayor Bloomberg, please meet with us so that we can discuss ideas on how to lessen the impact of the Second Avenue Subway construction on local businesses and residents. We want to work with you. We’re all New Yorkers. We’re all in this together. Sincerely, Joe Pecora, President Second Avenue Business Association www.sabanyc.org

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rofessional lobbyists have been in high gear over state budget negotiations for months. But amid the schmoozing, a small group of pharmacists is trying to find its way around Albany too, taking time off from day jobs, switching their white coats for suits and knocking on legislators’ doors. The pharmacists, who own small, independent businesses largely in New York City, hope to find support for a budget statute that would add a few million dollars to health spending. They want higher Medicaid reimbursement rates for prescription drugs—but only for them, and not for chains like Rite Aid. Hundreds of community pharmacies have gone out of business over the past few years, and the remaining owners say an emergency measure to raise their reimbursements would tide them over until a wider solution can be found, perhaps when federal reform measures come to New York. “Independent pharmacies cannot survive with the current reimbursement,” said Charles Catalano, president of the New York City Pharmacists Society. “It’s the lowest reimbursement of the 50 states.” Independent pharmacies are squeezed by the fact that they have very few nonprescription sales like makeup and food, unlike chains. And they tend to serve a relatively high proportion of Medicaid patients, who, on top of bringing a low reimbursement, are not legally required to co-pay. Most importantly, the pharmacists complain, the state dropped Medicaid reimbursement rates suddenly last fall without thinking of the consequences to businesses that rely on them. In September, a federal ruling set off a series of changes in drug reimbursement rates, effectively lowering the amount that the state pays for Medicaid prescriptions. But the real prices of the drugs did not change, saving the state money while small pharmacies began to only break even on many sales. After the ruling, Catalano said, private insurance companies raised their reimbursement rates after recognizing that the ruling left pharmacists buying drugs above the new official “market” rate. At the same time, New York lowered its Medicaid reimbursement levels in line with the ruling. “What happened in September was we went below the bar, but private insurance realized that that lower reimbursement

was not sustainable,” Catalano said. “If the lawsuit hadn’t gone through, we wouldn’t be reimbursing the pharmacies at the lower level. It has nothing to do with saving money—it’s a windfall.” While many Albany electeds are sympathetic to the plight of small pharmacies, finding a solution is not simple, they say. “Whether the change in reimbursement from the lawsuit is a windfall for the state or the result of a long-overdue change depends on who you talk to,” said Assembly Health Committee chair Dick Gottfried. “I look at it basically as to whether the independents have a valid argument for why they should be reimbursed a little more than for chain stores, and there I think they have a good case on the merits.” Aside from the lack of non-prescription sales to buffer losses, independent pharmacists say their businesses are radically different from chains in how much time they spend working with each patient. Consumer Reports magazine has consistently given them high marks for offering services like delivery, customizing medicines and helping patients with information and paperwork. All of this can add up to a substantial source of preventive health care to lowincome patients, say the pharmacists, something that the state recognizes by relying on them to serve special-needs adult homes. Independent pharmacies are more common downstate than upstate, and are often concentrated in low-income neighborhoods. “Delivery, adherence programs— there’s a ton of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that really helps the state save money,” said Joseph Navarra, the owner of a midtown Manhattan pharmacy. “We don’t get paid for anything extra that we do.” Navarra said pharmacists suggested a fee-for-service reimbursement program to the state Health Department in 2008, but were turned down. The Health Department had no comment on either plan. No one has stepped forward in Albany to champion the proposed statute. Some legislators say it would take time to work through the legality and logistics of a two-tier reimbursement system—not to mention the price tag. “At this point, we’re trying to estimate what the actual cost would be,” Gottfried said, “but any amount would be an obstacle in this year’s budget.” Direct letters to the editor to editors@cityhallnews.com.

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An Important Message from Your School Leaders Ernest A. Logan, President CSA

Rethinking Day Care – A System Too Fragmented for Today’s Demands

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ur early childhood education system is a crazy quilt of separate providers, of various sizes, shapes and quality, stitched together by different state and city agencies. We need to grab hold of this irregular hodge-podge, shake it out and turn it into something all of one piece and of the highest quality. As President Obama advocates, we must create “a seamless and comprehensive set of [educational] systems and supports for children, from birth to age five.” And until that is done, we must keep the programs we have as safe and sound as possible for our tiniest citizens. CSA’s long-term interest is focused on the well-being of all pre-school children; our immediate interest is on those in our city-funded Day Care system whose capable Directors and Assistant Directors we represent. City-funded Day Care is just one piece of the quilt that includes, among other pieces, nursery schools, often for the affluent; public schools for a wide-range of pre-schoolers; Head-Starts for the poor; and – only in NYC – “no-permit-required” facilities for the absolutely desperate. Right now, it’s fair to say that city-funded Day Care Centers, which always served the working class and working poor, are getting trampled underfoot. In the last few years, the city has shut down 17 centers in the name of costcutting and recently announced that it will shut down 15 more and send the children to centers farther from home or – quietly, via vouchers – to facilities without permits, where no education takes place.

• • •

another, in some fool’s errand involving “waiting it out” till the educators give up in despair and take flight. They choose to ignore the volumes of statistics showing that sound early childhood education is a long-term economic boon to the city – keeping parents off the welfare rolls, helping financially deprived children get ready for regular school, identifying and meeting their special needs early enough to help them, and improving their odds of graduating from high school and staying out of juvenile facilities. Worse, handing off these little ones to facilities without permits sometimes comes with an immediate price, when the facility turns out to be a drug house and children get caught in crossfire, when barely supervised babies fall down stairways or wander away to be found by strangers on the street. Not for a moment do we believe that the Mayor is heartless or ignorant or that ACS is run by a band of monsters. What we believe is that the overall universal pre-K system – including our city-funded Day care program – has become a system too fragmented for today’s demands. It needs to be replaced by a system with only quality teachers and leaders and a uniform curriculum, under the watchful eye of the DOE rather than a social service agency and other noneducation agencies. Only in this way will all pre-schoolers get a genuine early education in a safe environment.

• • •

e’re proud of our city-funded Day Care Centers, which sprang from T W democratic grassroots. They were born out of settlement houses for early 20th century immigrants who wanted to work; and flourished during World War II under the influence of Eleanor Roosevelt, to support working mothers; and united under a single Day Care Council in 1947 to allow parents to continue working and rise to the middle class. Today, they serve similar populations. NYC’s 253 remaining city-funded Day Care Centers, educating more than 203,000 pre-schoolers, are governed, in an uneasy partnership with the Day Care Council, by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), a city agency that is tired of the job, claims not to have the budget to support the responsibility, and doesn’t know the first thing about education, anyway. So eager is ACS to get out of the Day Care business that it is spinning feeble justifications that include low demand due to neighborhood gentrification and the high cost of leases in gentrified areas. Complicit in the shutdown of these historic centers are the Mayor himself and his staff who have been cooperating with ACS by slowly starving out Day Care Center teachers and administrators. To save nickels and dimes, the city has left these low paid, but highly qualified, licensed educators without a raise or a contract for four years, canceling one negotiation session after

he overwhelming majority of our Day Care members are qualified educators who would welcome the opportunity to report to fellow educators at the DOE. Although there’s no excuse for the Mayor’s refusal to negotiate a contract with our Day Care leaders and teachers and for ACS to shut down Day Care Centers with disingenuous excuses, the work of weaving the programs into one strong system is way beyond the Mayor and his people. First, the transition must be accomplished in Albany. At the state level, the Day Care system is also governed by a social service agency, the Office of Children and Family Services. Day Care and all early childhood programs should be woven tightly together under the control of the NY State Education Department (SED). This is not unprecedented; several states in fact, including Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia and Washington, have reorganized agencies and services to include departments of early education within their state education agencies. Until that happens in New York, the early childhood system in NYC cannot become part of DOE. CSA has drafted legislation that will strengthen the Day Care system statewide, with a focus on real education very likely, under the oversight of SED. We hope, soon, to have sponsors introduce it into the state Senate and Assembly. We welcome all our state and city colleagues and elected officials to move with us in this direction for the sake of our very youngest students.

Council of School Supervisors & Administrators AFSA Local 1: AFL-CIO

www.csa-nyc.org


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By Chris Bragg, David Freedlander, Sal Gentile, Andrew J. Hawkins and Selena Ross

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

THAT MOST NEW YORKERS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF

better. Aside from the deputy mayors and commissioners, these are 20 of the most influential unelected players in city government. They never needed a vote to get their jobs, and most voters will never even know their names. But they are the ones who make the machinery of municipal government work. The most influential city political players is another list entirely, and City Hall will feature them in an upcoming edition of our new monthly Power Matrix list. Send your suggestions on who should be on that one, and on other lists you would like to see us put together, to editors@cityhallnews.com.

KRISTEN ARTZ

evin Sheekey is gone. Ed Skyler is going. Patti Harris is expected to follow soon enough—and that is just in the bullpen. The agencies have been going through their own turnover. And over on the Council side, there are 13 Council members who have been in office for just a few months. Meanwhile, the economy is still a disaster, the state budget impasse threatens new problems for the city each day and the Big Apple is blinking its way into all sorts of changes in how its citizens interact with government. The average New Yorker might think that these are problems for the mayor, the Council, the borough presidents, the comptroller and public advocate to dig into all by themselves. Those in the know know

CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com

FRANK BARRY

KYLE KIMBALL

Director of Speechwriting for Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Executive Vice President of Transaction Services Division for Economic Development Corporation

rank Barry’s official role within the Bloomberg administration is as the mayor’s speechwriter. He pens the mayor’s State of the City speeches, inaugurals, even addresses for big evening galas. He is also the primary keeper of the mayor’s written word, approving any press statements, op-eds, even some private correspondences that bear the mayor’s name. But it is Barry’s unofficial role as one of the administration’s go-to advisers on good government issues that is more intriguing, insiders say. One of the administration’s leading advocates for non-partisan elections, Barry served as research director for the 2003 charter revision commission that unsuccessfully pushed for the measure, then found time to pen the The Scandal of Reform, about the failure of good-government groups to support his cause. Barry also played a major role in lobbying and campaign finance regulations passed in the mayor’s second term, helped form the mayor’s national anti-gun coalition and is expected to be one of the point people on the mayor’s new immigration initiative. Barry was rumored as a possible chair of this year’s charter revision commission, but the mayor ended up going with a chair less closely associated with the administration. He may have missed out on the executive director’s job for similar reasons. Still, Barry is expected to be a major presence as the commission mulls tackling non-partisan elections again in the coming months.

t would have been easy for everyone to throw up their hands in 2008, after the economy tanked and the city’s big dreams for reinvention suddenly seemed impossible. But that was when Kyle Kimball joined the Economic Development Corporation and began helping shepherd complicated real estate transactions like those for Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governor’s Island. “My philosophy is urgency,” he says. “In order to get things done you have to keep up a sense of momentum and not let things languish, keep the conversation going in order to build consensus.” Kimball, 37, came to EDC after a decade at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. “I love this job more than any I have had in my life,” he says. “The challenges we are facing are so much more complicated and have so much more impact than anything I ever worked on in investment banking.” If the machinery of government can sometimes seem ponderously slow, that is just proof, Kimball says, that the process is working. “There are a lot of stakeholders and they all have different interests. Because every agency in this administration is so good at guarding their interests, it takes us a while to figure out what the right mix is.”

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APRIL 26, 2010

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MICHAEL DARDIA Deputy Director of Office of Management and Budget man who has the ear of the mayor during many tough moments, Michael Dardia is one of the most influential bureaucrats in the city. Dardia, a deputy director under Mark Page at the Office of Management and Budget, often steps in after top budget meetings to clear up the fine points and help Bloomberg put it all in perspective. “He’s the one who takes a step back and helps the mayor see it in context,” said one political staffer. “Mark Page has a larger perspective and he kind of runs people through that meeting, but when [the mayor] wants some detail on the effect of budget decisions, he’s the guy who’s talking to the mayor at that point.” Dardia oversees housing and economic development agencies, a huge portfolio that includes NYCHA, small business services and development projects like the city takeover of the Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governor’s Island. But Dardia wields even more influence as the brain behind budget predictions, in charge of interpreting tax receipts, unemployment data and other financial information and turning it around into an economic forecast. Coupled with responsibilities to propose and pass a balanced budget, the mayor has nearly full discretion over the city’s financial decisions, and Dardia, who has a staff of 18, works closely with him. When, in August 2007, the mayor sent out a memo warning agency heads about an economic downturn on the horizon, it was Dardia who helped formulate the language. In the years since, he has helped craft the city’s strategy during the recession. Dardia is seen by many as a careful and image-conscious person, someone who is ambitious but stays behind the scenes. A former Rand scholar, he spends most of the day in back-and-forth analysis in a think-tank-like office. After a year on the job, he learned that it could be helpful to leave Park Place sometimes too, and occasionally to drive around the city—not to meet with local officials, but to see how many for-sale signs there are.

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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LORNA GOODMAN Executive Director of the Charter Revision Commission

orna Goodman just started as the executive director of the charter revision commission, but is already at the center of a tug-of-war between the Bloomberg administration and the commission’s chair, Matt Goldstein, about who is running the show. Goodman, whom Goldstein picked as the person to run the commission’s day-to-day operations, is seen as a pick independent of the administration, THAT MOST NEW YORKERS though that independence will HAVE NEVER HEARD OF likely be tested in the coming months as the commission’s agenda starts to take shape. A former Nassau County Attorney and a 25-year veteran of the city Law Department before that, Goodman said that her legal skills would help her manage the complex work of a sweeping revision of the city’s charter. “I see the job as listening to the public, and then doing the intellectual work and the legal research,” she said. She will also be managing a sizable staff in her new role, and said that her experience managing 150 people in Nassau County has prepped her for the new challenge. The length of Goodman’s tenure as executive director remains unclear. She could be done by September, if the commission puts all the questions it intends on the ballot in 2010. It could last until 2011, or even until the presidential election of 2012, though that would require the mayor to recall the commission. Goodman, though, said she has put these thoughts out of her mind for now. The paint has not even dried on her new office, she said. “I’ve been doing this for seven days,” she said. “Ask me how long I want to stay after three months.”

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Chief Advisor to the Mayor for Policy and Strategic Planning ohn Feinblatt, the mayor’s chief advisor for policy and strategic planning, seems to be the man in the administration tasked with taking on big problems the federal government has ignored. During his years as the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator, Feinblatt made his name helping form a national anti-gun coalition that has made the mayor a leading voice on the issue nationwide. Feinblatt said the ascendance of gun policy in the administration’s agenda had less to do with good politics, though, than with sheer necessity. “There’s no national-level protection, so New York had no choice,” he said. With his recently expanded title, Feinblatt is now tackling the mayor’s new immigration initiative, another issue where New York City, as a town of immigrants, has a unique perspective—and is another issue where the federal government has also failed to act. The efforts included a recent mailing to high-level political donors asking them to emphasize immigration reform in giving money to candidates for political office this year. “We are the economic engine of the country, and this city depends on immigration,” he said.

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APRIL 26, 2010

PAUL EGAN Director of Legislation and Political Action for the United Teachers Federation hile many lobbyists like to think they help draft legislation, only a few really do. One is Paul Egan, director of legislation and political action for the United Teachers Federation. When not helping City Council members work through the details of school bills, Egan is maintaining ties with an ever-larger group of elected officials ushered into office with the help of the UFT. Irish-born Egan has always been involved in politics, first in Dublin and then as a union representative in the Bronx. Also a former middleschool teacher, he can often provide legislators with quick advice on his own, but he prides himself on having the connections to put Council members in touch with any experts they need at a moment’s notice. Politicians say they appreciate his jack-of-all-trades willingness to juggle pension issues, class size, capital spending, school safety and anything else that comes up. And Egan says his straight-shooting, blunt style helps him win the trust of wary insiders and the chance to attend and speak his mind at important meetings. Of course, it helps that the UFT has supported winners in some of the city’s top recent races, including Cy Vance and John Liu, as well as several new Council members. Those outcomes in 2009 were largely the result of Egan’s strategy of issuing fewer endorsements and focusing more on those the union chose, instead of casting a wide net as in years past. A nonstop talker—he was actually in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1990 for the longest afterdinner speech—Egan says that few people realize how seriously he takes his communication methods. He spends part of each day researching new social media programs and keeping up with Twitter and Facebook, “constantly trying to find ways that we can communicate our message to our members and to politicians in a streamlined-type way.”

BARRY SLOAN

WANDA WILLIAMS Director of Political Action and Legislation, DC 37

ith the Working Families Party and its mostly private-member unions growing ever more dominant in the city’s political landscape, DC 37 has lost some of its muscle. But the city’s municipal workforce will always have power in numbers. And as DC 37’s political director, Wanda Williams wields that power. Williams’ union has 120,000 members, making it one of the largest in the city. And while other unions’ fortunes may change with the shifting economy, the city’s municipal workforce is relatively well THAT MOST NEW YORKERS protected. That fact has made DC 37 one of HAVE NEVER HEARD OF the go-to unions for advocates and elected officials looking to mobilize on any number of hot-button issues, from health care to privatization of public services. “We’re going to be able to, at the drop of a dime, turn out huge numbers of people,” Williams said. “There’s not many [unions] that compete, and elected officials will tell you that.” From the Off-Track Betting Corporation to the Health Department’s pest control unit, DC 37 reaches into every corner of city government, and most policy changes must, in some way, cross Williams’ desk. After a series of setbacks under Mayor Bloomberg, the union is now realizing some success, having elected two of its favored candidates, John Liu and Bill de Blasio, last year. Liu, for example, is scrutinizing Bloomberg’s use of no-bid contracts for private consultants. If Liu helps put an end to the practice, municipal workers will continue to get the bulk of city resources—which is exactly what keeps DC 37 in business. Williams describes her union as one that makes decisions based on what is right, without being overly concerned with—though considerate of—other circumstances. “We’re the one stabilizing force that is always in existence,” Williams said. “There is never going to be a time when there is not a DC 37.”

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CHUCK MEARA Chief of Staff, Council Speaker Christine Quinn huck Meara has been chief of staff to the City Council speaker for longer than most of the Council members have been in their seats. “I give a great deal of respect to people who are willing to run for office. I’m just not one of them,” Meara said. “Point is, I don’t think you have to be an elected official to have impact.” He got his first taste of government not in New York, but New Hampshire, working as an aide to former Sen. John Durkin and then to Rep. Norman D’Armours. He moved to the city in the mid-1980s to take a job at the Port Authority, which proved to be a fateful decision. He was working at 1 World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and walked down 68 flights of stairs and through dust-choked streets of Lower Manhattan to get back to his wife, Jeanne. Their reunion was caught on tape by a local broadcaster. In the Council, Meara considers himself more of an equalizer than a twister of arms. Whether managing all 51 members of the Council or negotiating with the Bloomberg administration on legislation, Meara says he always tries to be mindful of everyone’s competing interests and constituencies. During budget season, though, that tends to be easier said than done. “Budgets are hard. Land-use decisions are oftentimes hard,” Meara said. “Even individual pieces of legislation take a long time to get done.” Meara is one of those few staffers considered so indispensable that his service spans two Council speakers: working first with Gifford Miller and staying on after Quinn took the post in 2006. He is a constant presence in the Council chambers, recognizable for his looming height and shock of white hair. But will he stick around for a third speaker, after Quinn’s term is up in 2013? It is a distinct possibility. “I’ve been doing this forever,” he quipped.

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APRIL 26, 2010

MADELYN WILS

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DAVID WOLOCH

Executive Vice President of Planning, Development and Maritime for Economic Development Corporation

DOT Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs

ot long ago, Madelyn Wils was one of New York’s boldface names. She jetted around the world with Robert DeNiro as head of the Tribeca Film Institute. She served on the board of Lower Manhattan Development Corporation just after it was created. She was the head of Community Board 1 after the Sept. 11 attacks and was one of the original board members of the Hudson River Park Trust. She was often, as she put it, a “nice prop” at ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings. “I had a much more visible job when I worked outside of government,” she concedes, but she made the switch because, as she put it, “I really wanted to get into the nuts and bolts and influence the policy on these projects.” Now, Wils oversees three departments at the city’s Economic Development Corporation—Planning, Development and Implementation—and is in charge of making sure all development squares with the city, state and federal regulations. Her large portfolio stretches across the five boroughs, from getting less trucks on the road near the city’s ports to making sure Luna Park is open at Coney Island next month. “I’ve always been able to keep a lot of things in my head at once.” Wils came to government through the backdoor. She worked in television and film production and got involved in her local downtown neighborhood, and eventually, as she says, “I became pretty knowledgeable about urban planning.” And though she is not in front of the cameras as much as she used to be, she likes her new perch. “I feel like I’ve been blessed to work on projects that are meaningful to me,” she says. “I don’t get the publicity, but I have much more hands-on leadership.”

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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he last two commissioners of the Department of Transportation could not have been more different. Iris Weinshall was a car-friendly traffic guru. Janette Sadik-Khan is a zealot for bike paths. Under a mayor with no major building projects to his name, creating a legacy out of a changed streetscape is the kind of pressure that can turn any agency into an overdriven boiler room. Perhaps that is why David Woloch, DOT deputy commissioner for external affairs, has become quietly powerful. Known for his steady realpolitik approach and for always thinking before he speaks, Woloch mutes the decrees of those above him, providing balance and continuity to community leaders who say they rely hugely on him. THAT MOST NEW YORKERS His ambiguous middle-ofHAVE NEVER HEARD OF the-road view of the bike vs. car debate leaves otherwise apoplectic advocates on both sides saying he understands how they feel. They call him personally when they need to vent and say they have never seen him lose his cool or act on impulse, even when trying to mediate screaming fights at community board meetings. Still, Woloch is seen as a chameleon-like figure who adjusts perfectly to the changing agenda of the DOT. He has built a reputation of fierce loyalty to each commissioner. Behind the scenes, he helped broker politically contentious deals, like the decision to install red-light cameras in the city against Albany’s initial misgivings. He often travels around the city to meet people on their home turf. “I sort of like being the visiting team,” he said. But sometimes, when dealing with very delicate situations, Woloch hosts people after hours in strategically scouted locations in his own territory, Fort Greene. He once asked Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives, to meet him there at a cocktail lounge called Frank’s. “We were grappling with a contentious issue and he suggested that venue,” said White. “Until then we had just met in boardrooms at the DOT or exchanged voicemails. After a couple of cocktails, my concern melted away. It really defused the situation.”

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Senior Advisor to the Mayor f you want to see Michael Bloomberg, you first have to get through Shea Fink. Fink, the senior advisor to the mayor, is the keeper of his schedule, culling through some 1,500 requests to see the mayor a month. “It’s like a big puzzle,” Fink said. “I sometimes wish I had two or three mayors.” A member of the advance team for Rudy Giuliani before joining Bloomberg when he came into office, Fink says the trick is trying to strike a balance so that the mayor is not just attending ribbon cuttings or galas. Fink also wears another important hat within the administration: overseeing the mayor’s community assistance unit that serves as the administration’s eyes and ears to the city’s diverse set of interests. At times, people get upset when she does not make the mayor available to them, she said. Still, Fink said that she wouldn’t want any other job in the administration, even though others said she could have a deputy mayor’s job by now if she wanted. “Deputy mayors only get to look at one thing,” she said. “I have the ability to get to look at the whole picture.”

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VICKI METZGER Special Assistant to First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris hen happy couples vow to love, honor and obey at the city’s newly revamped marriage bureau, they ought to throw at least one flower out of the bouquet in the direction of Vicki Metzger. The special assistant to first deputy mayor Patricia Harris, Metzger helped coordinate the bureau’s move out of its dusty confines in the Municipal Building to the new 24,000-squarefoot space a few blocks to the north, a move that involved coordinating with the city clerk’s office, the City Council, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Citywide Administration Services. Getting things done across city agencies is something of a Metzger specialty. “If you were playing a game of football, she’d be the person you use to block and tackle,” said Anthony Crowell, counselor to the mayor. Crowell got his start in city government alongside Metzger. “She gets the government concerns, and the need for governmental integrity and processes, but at the same time she knows how to work in the environment to make sure things get accomplished.” Metzger came to city government in 1998 after a stint in D.C. and at the Kennedy School. She helped design the mayor’s PlaNYC2030 initiative, and is now getting down into the dirt, to make sure it gets carried out—by planting some of the one million trees the plan calls for herself. The key to getting things done in government is simple, she says. “It’s all about hard work,” she said. “And recognizing the talents of the people around you, and knowing that no job is too big or too small.”

JEFF FRIEDLANDER First Assistant Corporation Counsel

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n average, the city of New York is sued about 10,000 times a year. Many are tort cases, some are federal suits. Whatever they are, chances are more than a few will cross the desk of Jeff Friedlander, first assistant corporation counsel and number-two attorney in the New York City Law Department. “You don’t know what it is that you’re THAT MOST NEW YORKERS going to face each day,” he said. “There’s HAVE NEVER HEARD OF always something that comes up in the office. So I like to be prepared.” Friedlander supervises the corporate side of the office, meaning he has a hand in most of the hundreds of economic development, environmental, municipal finance and legal counsel decisions made on a daily basis. Drafting legislation, providing the mayor with legal advice and overseeing a staff of over 1,200 attorneys all fall under Friedlander’s purview. Friedlander signed on with the Law Department as a junior attorney in 1970, having been recruited by his former law professor, Norman Redlich, who went on to serve as corporation counsel. Since then, five mayors have come and gone, but Friedlander has stayed, an unabashed believer in the rewards of public service. Described once by Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo as “the bedrock of the Law Department,” Friedlander says his job allows him to dabble in a wide variety of civic issues, from education to civil rights to economic development. He admits he could be earning a much higher salary if he went corporate, but notes that many Law Department lawyers who have done just that seem to eventually find their way back. “To be able to represent the city of New York, and to do it in a way that is non-political,” Friedlander said, “it’s a job that really can’t be replicated.”

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CARLO SCISSURA Chief of Staff, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz fter last year’s elections, Carlo Scissura, chief of staff to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, convened the newly elected members of the Brooklyn delegation of the City Council to one of his favorite Italian restaurants, Anthony’s, in Park Slope. The purpose: To teach those new to government about the ins and outs of City Hall. “He said, ‘Here is how budgeting works, here is how to appoint community boards,’” said Brad Lander, the new Council member from Park Slope and one of Scissura’s luncheon companions. “He has a sense of how things work and he is willing to be helpful and share that knowledge.” Scissura calls himself the “consigliere” to the colorful borough president, and says his job description is simply “everything.” Markowitz credits him with helping reach out to communities affected by the Atlantic Yards and Domino developments. “If we aren’t able to get everyone to agree all the time, Carlo is at least able to lower the heat,” Markowitz said. “Plus, I value his judgment. He has a great ability to present all sides of an issue.” As the right-hand man to an elected official with such a large and diverse population (and to one who is not seen as a likely candidate for further office), Scissura has taken on an increasingly active role in shaping his borough’s extensive agenda. And Scissura’s skill in what is known in political circles as “Marty Management” has not gone unrecognized outside of the confines of Brooklyn Borough Hall. Last month, Mayor Bloomberg named Scissura to the Charter Revision Commission, giving an important seat to a person with an interest in preserving and expanding the power of borough presidents. “I want people to know they have somebody on their side,” Scissura said. “I know what real Brooklynites are going through.”

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JAY KRIEGEL

General Counsel to the New York City Council

Senior Advisor, Related Companies fter a lifetime of success and failure in city government, Jay Kriegel is ready to turn things over to a new generation. “Politics is a young man’s business,” Kriegel said. “I’m like an aging shortstop sitting in the bleachers, watching it, occasionally getting fired up.” But Kriegel, an accomplished political operative, lawyer and journeyman private executive, has not been put to pasture quite yet. He still keeps his hands on a variety of dealings in the city, from real estate transactions to budget negotiations to advocacy campaigns. Kriegel was behind the “Enough Already” campaign, which convened a number of chambers of commerce and business groups from around the state to develop a common manifesto on issues like pension reform, property taxes and economic development. He is a regular presence at City Hall, and his colleagues often say that there is rarely a deal in New York that Kriegel has not quietly helped shape. Having worked with a diverse array of elected leaders, like John Lindsay, Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and Michael Bloomberg, as well as for companies like Verizon, UPS, Viacom, Pennzoil and Paine Webber, Kriegel has managed to stay in the game and stay relevant for over 40 years. Despite his many years in the private sector, Kriegel says nothing has so far beaten climbing the steps of City Hall as a government employee. “I have been blessed by finding other exciting challenges that have justified long nights and getting adrenaline flowing and my passions going,” he said. “But I think you can’t top being in City Hall.”

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he City Council’s office of general counsel can be a confusing even for those who work there. Just ask Liz Fine. “You can say counsel: ‘c-o-u-ns-e-l.’ Council: ‘c-o-u-n-c-i-l,’” Fine said. “We misspell it all the time. Counsel to the Council.” As general counsel, Fine oversees a whole host of activities, from complaints to dispensing legal advice to litigation to conflict of interest. She also serves as a THAT MOST NEW YORKERS senior legal advisor to Council Speaker Christine Quinn. HAVE NEVER HEARD OF “Just soup-to-nuts legal matters that the Council has,” Fine summarized. Just recently, the Council’s effort to ban flavored chewing tobacco was upheld in court, a victory Fine says she relishes because of its public health implications. After a stint in the Clinton White House, where she served as both a deputy attorney general in the Justice Department and as a special counsel to the president, Fine moved to New York to represent Spence Chapin Services to Families and Children, one of the city’s largest adoption agencies. In 2006, Quinn brought her on the Council’s payroll. When the Council’s interests coincide with the city’s interests in legal cases, the corporation counsel will generally provide representation, Fine said. (The Law Department has over 1,200 lawyers, while the Council’s legal staff totals seven.) But when interests diverge, the Council calls on Fine. And while that happens occasionally, such as when the Council recently filed a brief in opposition to rent increases in rent-stabilized housing that the city supports, those instances have been infrequent under Quinn’s leadership, she said. “Chris Quinn has really, really made a priority of having strong, very productive relations with the mayor’s office,” Fine said. “I think it’s a healthy thing to have some institutional differences.”

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Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations s the Bloomberg administration’s director of operations the past four years, Jeff Kay has been the man in charge of keeping the administration— and the city—a well-oiled machine. That has not always been glamorous. Part of his portfolio, for instance, has included putting systems in place to determine that it’s a pothole, not a sinkhole, that is obstructing traffic somewhere in the city, otherwise making sure the Department of Environmental Protection, not the Department of Transportation, responds. This is all part of his effort to eliminate waste and overlaps across agencies—an effort that has led him to put as much data as possible about agencies online so the public can help him with his job. In addition, Kay is tasked with making sure broad policies are adopted across agency lines, such as laws requiring that foreignlanguage services be provided in different agencies. At times, he has also taken a broader policy role, shaping aspects of the mayor’s PlaNYC initiative, and helping push through a major anti-graffiti law. With the city’s budget situation more uncertain than ever, Kay is expected to take an ever more aggressive role in cutting government waste.

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JAY HERSHENSON Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, City University of New York s the senior vice chancellor for university relations, Jay Hershenson is the public face of CUNY and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s right-hand man. But he is also the gatekeeper to one of New York’s most influential civic institutions—often a landing pad for high-level officials from the Bloomberg administration and Wall Street. CUNY’s $2.9 billion budget alone makes it one of the most influential reservoirs of power in city government. But now Hershenson has another seat at the table, this time as a communications adviser to the Charter Revision Commission appointed by Bloomberg. Many took Hershenson’s appointment as a sign that Goldstein, not Bloomberg, would supervise the Commission’s proceedings. The answer will emerge in the months ahead. But Hershenson is, at the very least, charged with ensuring that the Commission’s work is accessible to the public, a key feature of its legitimacy in the eyes of the voters. “If there is one goal, it is to ensure that a vast multiplicity of opportunities are provided for input,” Hershenson said. Of particular interest, he added, is the use of the digital media in opening up Commission meetings to the public. “I’m especially interested in innovative ways, through the use of technology and outreach, to help the Commission and its professional staff get the word out that the city charter is very much in the public domain.”

ANDREA SHAPIRO DAVIS Director of the Mayor’s Office of appointments

hen a press release goes out announcing the latest Bloomberg administration appointment, whether it be for a commissioner or a board member or a deputy mayor, more often than not Andrea Shapiro Davis’ name will appear at the bottom, acknowledging her role as director of the mayor’s office of appointments. Chief of the Public Corruption “I’m kind of like a matchmaker,” Davis Unit, U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “I am constantly on the phone, hen Bronx City Council networking with people throughout the Member Larry Seabrook city and beyond. I’m addicted to my was indicted on 13 BlackBerrys.” counts of fraud and extortion, That is BlackBerrys, plural. THAT MOST NEW YORKERS U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara A lawyer by training, Davis worked announced the charges. But it HAVE NEVER HEARD OF at a medical malpractice law firm and as was Dan Stein who made the director for external relations at the CUNY investigation happen. As the chief Law School before moving to City Hall of the public corruption unit in the U.S. Attorney’s eight years ago. Along with Nat Leventhal, chair of the office, Stein is charged with policing the city’s elected mayor’s committee on appointments, she has had a officials, as well as non-profit organizations and hand in practically every appointment in Bloomberg’s anyone else who does business with city, state and administration, large and small. federal officials. How Davis goes about making her “We do cases at all levels of government,” said recommendations, though, can sometimes depend Boyd Johnson, the deputy U.S. Attorney and Stein’s largely on her social skills. About a year and a half predecessor as public corruption chief. ago, Davis went to a meeting of the Council of Urban The cases often turn into media frenzies (see: Professionals, a Manhattan-based non-profit whose Spitzer, Eliot), which is why being chief of the public stated goal is to advance “the agenda for urban corruption unit can be such a sensitive position. professionals and their communities.” There she met an And in many ways, Stein has revolutionized that job. impressive bank executive named John Rhea. Not too Before taking the helm of the public corruption unit, long after, Rhea was appointed chair of the New York he worked in the narcotics division with Johnson, City Housing Authority. and has imported many of the aggressive tactics from “I don’t go to a party every night,” she clarified. those investigations to his public corruption cases. With the administration still undergoing much of The unit now relies more heavily, for example, on its third-term metamorphosis, as Ed Skyler and Kevin wiretaps and confidential informants, Johnson said. Sheekey depart and others like Howard Wolfson and “That is a shift. I think that’s a very intentional one,” Johnson explained. Cas Holloway settle into their new roles, Davis’ job is Of course, Stein must also be wary of the hidden agendas of confidential informants—especially when they certainly seen as more central to the mayor’s success come from the political world. If nothing else, his job entails sorting through the endless stream of tips, hints than ever. Finding Skyler’s replacement alone is a and clues that come to the public corruption unit, and handling delicate cases, which can explode even when daunting task, she said. the first subpoenas are issued, deftly and aggressively. “Ed Skyler is irreplaceable,” she said. “We’re But sometimes, as in the Seabrook case, the trail can be very simple. doing a large search to find someone to take on those “These are crimes of greed,” Johnson said. “We follow the money.” responsibilities. They’re huge!”

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New York City’s Salt Reduction Initiative BY THOMAS FARLEY

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ealth care reform has passed. Among other positive changes, that should make it easier for people to get preventive care from their doctors. But some of the biggest improvements in health will require action well outside doctors’ offices. What is the biggest single cause of premature death in this country, and what would it take to control it? Neither question poses much mystery. Cardiovascular disease is by far the nation’s biggest killer. Hundreds of thousands of Americans die from heart attacks and strokes each year. Many of these deaths result from high blood pressure, a chronic condition so common that we tend to regard it as a normal part of aging—even though it is nothing of the kind. Our epidemic rate of high blood pressure is a predictable consequence of our diets. The salt we take in over the course of decades raises our blood pressure, and Americans, on average, consume twice as much salt as is safe each day. The salt shaker is not the problem, though, because 80 percent of it is

added to our food by food manufacturers before we buy it. Those food manufacturers could make a historic contribution to health by scaling back the salt they put in food in unison, and they will soon have that opportunity. New York City has created this opportunity by launching the National Salt Reduction Initiative. The initiative, now supported by more than 45 public agencies and health organizations from around the country, has set targets to help food manufacturers trim the salt in their products by 25 percent over the next five years. If the industry joins this effort, Americans’ salt consumption will decline by about 20 percent between now and 2014. That could save tens of thousands of lives each year across the United States. After two years of close technical consultation with the food industry, we know our goals are feasible and will soon be within reach. We recently proposed specific targets for dozens of product categories, from hamburgers to crackers to canned soup, and will announce final targets in April. If the food industry is

willing to make the commitment, it can meet them. Meeting the targets will mean reformulating some familiar products, but that can be done, in ways that consumers will not notice. In fact, some of the world’s biggest food manufacturers

have already accomplished that feat in the United Kingdom. Most were skeptical when U.K. health authorities proposed a voluntary salt reduction initiative several years ago. Today the same companies are rightly proud of their progress in helping to lower the country’s sodium intake. We want to see the same results here. Critics say this initiative will limit consumers’ choices. In truth it expands them. We can always add salt to our food, but we can’t take out what others add for us. By giving consumers a say in how much salt they eat—and helping restaurants and food manufacturers formulate healthier products—we can improve health while expanding personal choice. As a result of health care reform, I hope more people with high blood pressure will be taking effective pressure-lowering medicines prescribed by their doctors. But wouldn’t it be so much better if fewer people suffered from high blood pressure in the first place?

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Thomas Farley is New York City Health Commissioner.

Sugared-Beverage And Higher Cigarette Taxes Provide Chance For Budget Triple Play BY RICHARD DAINES

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besity and smoking are two of New York’s greatest public health challenges. These avoidable conditions impair happiness, inhibit life success and cause many chronic and debilitating conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, lung and other cancers, and emphysema. Obesity and smoking are particularly prevalent in lowerincome populations already burdened with other difficulties and victimized by unscrupulous marketers. The estimated costs of treating health problems related to obesity and smoking are staggering—more than $15 billion a year in New York State alone. We all pay these costs through insurance premiums and through taxes that support Medicaid and Medicare. In his proposed executive budget for 2010-2011, Gov. David Paterson has challenged New Yorkers to support a smart strategy that will begin to turn the tide on obesity and make further gains against tobacco. His sugared-beverage and cigarette tax proposals employ the power of economic incentives to influence consumer choices and offer the added advantages of reducing future private and government costs and raising revenue for health care.

We all know that economic incentives profoundly affect our choices as consumers. When prices rise—whether due to production costs, corporate profits or taxes—sales drop. Marketers call this “price elasticity” and know that it operates most powerfully for elective purchases, such as cigarettes and sugared beverages, for which there is no actual necessity and for which there exist many competing and better choices. Many public health leaders, including Dr. Thomas Frieden, now director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), support the use of taxes to reduce the consumption of sugared beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute at least one-third of all added sugar in our diets. All but the most conflicted authorities confirm that sugared beverages are a principal and easily identified source of the excess calories that are the principal cause of the country’s rising obesity rates. The governor has proposed an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that will increase the prices of covered products by about 17 percent, or one cent per ounce. He has also asked for a further $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes, restoring cigarette taxes in New York to the highest in the nation. We estimate that the governor’s beverage tax will reduce sugared-

beverage consumption by 10-15 percent, a range that is amply supported in the beverage industry’s own marketing data and elasticity models. Reductions of this magnitude will begin to make major inroads against obesity, save future health care costs, and are not achievable by other means such as public education campaigns. Families reducing taxed beverage consumption by 15-20 percent and substituting other, healthier drinks such as water and low-fat milk will have little or no net economic impact. The special beverage excise tax also would be a significant revenue generator for New York, raising $465 million in new revenue for health care in 2010-11, and $1 billion in 2011-12. Without this additional revenue, the governor would have been forced to recommend drastic reductions to health care services in his budget. While the precise price elasticity models of the beverage industry are closely held trade secrets, we have ample historical precedent to make very accurate predictions of the effect of a further $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax. It will reduce adult smoking in New York by about 50,000, cut current youth smoking by 10 percent, prevent approximately 100,000 children from developing the nicotine addiction that would condemn them to lifetime smoking

habits, and will save an estimated 48,000 New Yorkers from premature death. Tens of millions of dollars in future health care costs will be averted, and $200 million in new annual revenue will be raised, also for investment in health care services. The governor has shown considerable political courage in making these tax proposals in an environment as tax-averse as today’s. But these are not just ordinary, lamentable tax increases on productive activities. These carefully targeted taxes are a chance to pull off a brilliant “triple play” that will make people healthier, save on health care costs and provide revenue for health care services. Let’s not ask Gov. Paterson to make his health care triple play unassisted by informed public opinion.

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Richard Daines, M.D., is New York State Commissioner of Health.


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Health Care Reform: What Are Our Values? BY ASSEMBLY MEMBER RICHARD GOTTFRIED

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ow that health reform has passed Washington, this is a time to think about what values and social policy ought to guide reform. At the heart of the debate is the question: who should pay for health care? It is not that difficult. Think about education. It’s a parent’s responsibility. But we demand that our government provide free quality education for every child. We figured out almost two centuries ago that education is a public responsibility. No one suggests that parents be required to pay a deductible and co-payments to send their children to public school, or have to prove they are low-income to get a public school subsidy. We pay for education with broad-based taxes, roughly based on ability to pay. Back then, when America decided universal public education is a government obligation, no one would have thought to apply that idea to health care. In those days, health care was little more than

leeches. But health care has come a long way, and health care costs along with it. Unfortunately, our public policy has not. Today, people who earn less or have health problems pay a far greater share of their income for health insurance and out-of-pocket health costs than people who are wealthier or healthier. We pay a high and regressive “tax” to insurance companies—premiums and deductibles they set—not based on ability to pay. Small businesses and people who buy insurance on their own pay a lot more. Low-income people can get publicly funded health coverage. That’s fair. But fairness should apply to all of us. For the average working family, the cost of premiums, deductibles and copayments, or the cost of health care if they are uninsured, can be a crippling burden. For many things, we accept having different alternatives available to upperand lower-income people—you can get by on cheaper food, cheaper clothing and cheaper housing. But access to quality health care is a matter of life and death.

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Some say: “This is America; you’re on your own.” I say: “This is America; we believe in community; we help one another. And some problems are so large that we demand that our government take some responsibility.” What about individual responsibility for our own health? Well, parents have

responsibility to raise their kids and homeowners to keep their home electrical wiring safe and the door locked. But we recognize education and public safety as human rights. They’re things we demand from our government; we as a community all contribute, and the cost is distributed, using the tax system. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and the cost should be fairly distributed. If we start with that principle, working out the details is really not that complicated. For me, I think this means a system that offers health coverage like Medicare and Child Health Plus, but available to all of us, with public funding based on ability to pay. My New York Health Plus proposal (Assembly bill A. 7854, Gottfried; Senate bill S. 4884, Duane) would create such a system for New York. The legislation we can achieve this year might not get us there right now. But if we keep our values in mind, then what we enact will move us in the right direction.

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Richard Gottfried, a Democrat representing parts of Manhattan, is chair of the Assembly Health Committee.

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A Compassionate and Innovative Surgeon

Patient-Centered Medical Homes: A Model For Better Health Care BY SEN. THOMAS DUANE

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n our nation’s capital, the extensive debate over federal health care reform focused attention both on how best to provide health insurance as well as how best to deliver high-quality, affordable health care. One way in which New York State is taking a lead in the latter is by focusing our resources on developing and strengthening primary and preventive care. To achieve that goal, we are encouraging the development and support of the emerging patient-centered medical home model. The theory behind this model is simple: people who have a regular source of health care services will receive ongoing preventive care and chronic care management rather than episodic, symptom-based or crisis care. Each patient within a medical home has a relationship with a personal physician and a team of other professionals who coordinate his or her care. This results in more cost-effective care and better health outcomes. In December, in my role as chair of the New York State Senate Health Committee, I hosted a roundtable on medical homes that brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including consumer representatives, community health centers and hospitals, physicians, nurses, hospice and home care providers, public and private health plans and New York City and State government. Representatives from medical homes in rural areas, urban centers, early adapters and those who have been working for over a decade shared their expertise and discussed the challenges of providing care when and where patients need it most. What we learned was instructive. In practice, successfully implementing the patient-centered medical home model requires years of hard work, the reorientation of health care staff at every level, the embracing of health information technology, and a top-to-bottom change in the culture of delivering care. For this model to work, the health and insurance sectors need to come together to develop a shared sense of priorities and agenda, including shifting from a reimbursement system that pays for particular services or procedures toward one that pays for case-based care management. We need to retrain our entire health care workforce, including those in behavioral health, so that the transformation of the delivery system is fully understood and realized. Private physicians will require resources, technology and training to reorient their practices and coordinate information technology and

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electronic medical records. Importantly, health education and patient self-management skills and techniques need to be developed and incorporated into the primary care model. One of the greatest challenges we face in moving toward the medical home model is the current shortage of primary care providers, which can be attributed, in part, to financial incentives that encourage medical specialization. To address the challenge, New York State’s medical homes initiative provides incentive payments to those practices and providers that are recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. We will also have to increase the use of non-physician providers to meet the need for expanded and accessible primary care. New York is in the early stages of development and experimentation with medical homes. We are still learning what works, and what will make a difference in the way care is delivered. In the same way that federal health care reform will encourage providers to challenge established models of medical care and delivery, we too must be willing to change the way that we think about health care. A successful transformation in the culture of medicine to promote health— rather than cure sickness—will not be easy, nor will it likely reap immediate benefits. But long-term, the movement toward accessible, integrated care that patient-centered medical homes provide will yield better outcomes for our patients while improving our entire health care delivery system.

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Thomas Duane, a Democrat representing parts of Manhattan, is chair of the Senate Health Committee.

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A Fresh Look At John Lindsay, And Questions About Why Now Museum exhibit, book and documentary, orchestrated by Lindsay inner circle BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS

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e’s fresh,” went John Lindsay’s mayoral campaign slogan from 1965, “everyone else is tired.” Now, 45 years after the dashing silk-stocking Republican first hit the hustings, a cadre of former Lindsay aides and family members are launching a media blitz in an attempt to keep the former mayor’s image fresh in the minds of New Yorkers. On May 4, the Museum of the City of New York will open an exhibit entitled “America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York.” The exhibit will be accompanied by a book edited by New York Times reporter Sam Roberts and co-published by the museum and Columbia University Press. And airing May 6 on Channel 13 will be Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, a one-hour documentary showcasing the mayor’s term in office, which lasted from 1966 to 1973. All of which begs the question: Why Lindsay? And why now? Roberts, a veteran reporter who got his start during the end of the Lindsay era, said the push to take a fresh look at the former mayor originates in the tight-knit circle of former aides and associates that are unsatisfied with the current historical record of their boss’s administration. “There’s a feeling, for better or for worse, that Lindsay really hadn’t been considered in the context of his time,” Roberts added. “You could argue that New Yorkers had better and worse mayors than Lindsay, but very few of them had to govern in more trying times.”

COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Lindsay’s time in office was a pivotal one for the city, marked by social upheaval and racial tension, as well as innovations in government and city living.

“This is designed as an attempt to salvage the Lindsay legacy by former Lindsay aides,” said Vincent Cannato, author of a book on the former mayor. But historians fear that the exhibit will be a whitewashing of Lindsay’s mayoralty by those with a vested interest in his legacy and their own. The Lindsay era was a time of serious fiscal and economic problems for the city. Multiple public employee strikes, including a transit strike that paralyzed the city and a garbage strike that made it practically unlivable, heightened the perception that New York was a dangerous place and that Lindsay was out of his depth. “I’m glad that there’s all this attention about Lindsay,” said Vincent Cannato, author of The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle To Save New York. “But one must always keep in mind the sources of the museum exhibition, the documentary and the book, and understand where that comes from.” Cannato, who teaches history at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, said people need to understand who is pushing for this and why. “This is designed as an attempt to salvage the Lindsay legacy by former Lindsay aides,” he said, “and much of what’s produced has to be taken with that in mind.” Fred Siegel, a professor of history at Cooper Union, said the effort to revitalize the Lindsay legacy could veer into historical revisionism.

“This is a PR effort, to some degree,” said Siegel, who, despite being a fierce critic of the Lindsay era, said he is trying to withhold judgment until he reads Roberts’ book and sees the exhibit. “It’s being funded by people who, in the course of redeeming Lindsay’s reputation, redeem their own reputation.” The museum says it intends to present the former mayor’s time in office through a critical and unbiased lens, with no attempts to sanitize Lindsay’s tumultuous period in City Hall.

“We’re a neutral forum on this, and we want to present what happened in this era,” said Sarah Henry, deputy director of the Museum for the City of New York and curator of the exhibit. “We want to let people weigh for themselves the accomplishments and failures of this administration.” Lindsay’s time in office was a pivotal one for the city, Henry said, marked by social upheaval and racial tension, as well as innovations in government and city living. In the aftermath of the Kennedy era, Lindsay embodied a lot of the hope and promise of the 1960s to many people. His accomplishments included coming up with new sources of revenue for the city, such as the income tax and the commuter tax, and a strong emphasis on urbanism and redefining the cityscape. Former Lindsay aides that have been involved in the funding and promotion of the exhibit and documentary say that the mayor deserves a lot of credit for keeping the city relatively calm during a period of time when much of the country was gripped by rioting and social unrest. Jay Kriegel, former chief-of-staff and special advisor to the mayor, said that Lindsay’s record had never been fully appreciated by historians, but that the exhibit, book and documentary will hopefully highlight the mayor’s more remarkable accomplishments. Kriegel, who works now as a senior advisor at Related Companies, said Lindsay’s efforts to save a city that was in a decline has never been fully understood. “People in that period thought the city was dying,” he said. “But John Lindsay believed that the city was central to American society.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com

APRIL 26, 2010

23

eter Elkind was on a ski vacation with his family when word came over his BlackBerry that a certain former college acquaintance who had not long before been elected governor of New York was embroiled in a prostitution scandal and would soon resign. Elkind, the author of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, has known Spitzer since both were at Princeton—one as the editor of the campus paper, the other as a striving student and budding politician. He got to know Spitzer better when the future governor served as attorney general, interviewing him often about his crusades against Wall Street titans. The relationship continued as Elkind set out to do his latest book, with the two spending over 20 hours together over the course of the reporting for Rough Justice, a work Elkind hopes will serve as the definitive biography of the former governor’s life and career—so far. He took time out of his book tour to speak with City Hall in the Time-Life building, where he works as a senior editor for Fortune Magazine. What follows is an edited transcript.

City Hall: Why did you decide to do a book on Eliot Spitzer, and why now do we need yet another book about him? Peter Elkind: Well, I decided to do this book just shortly after the scandal broke. I had gone to college with Eliot, and I had written about him a lot as attorney general, and I was certainly as shocked as anyone else. I mean, it was stunning. You couldn’t imagine something more improbable ending his career. And then as I made a few calls, it was clear that there were a lot of really interesting issues. It’s sort of a combination of a political mystery and a window into Wall Street and kind of a whodunit all at once. And it was, of course, a story about a marriage. And that’s a pretty good story. CH: Why do you think he participated? PE: I think he felt that he would be treated fairly. I mean, we had some history together, as a journalist and a source. He also believes, if he’s in a situation where he can be heard, he can make his own closing argument, as he put it. He’s a very smart guy, he’s very articulate, he’s willing to talk about things in details. And he was very generous with his time and forthcoming with this book. Now, there are a lot of personal areas that were difficult, and getting him to talk openly about that was more difficult than getting him to talk about Troopergate or about what was wrong with the state budget process. CH: Did it take some convincing to get him to do it? PE: When I first decided to do this book, I passed word to him—and at that point he had PR people working with him—that I was doing it. I didn’t ask his permission. This is an unauthorized book. But I let him know and I said, “I’d obviously very much like to talk to you. I’d love to do it as soon as possible. I want to let you know this is in the works. Feel free to get in touch with me if you want to talk about it informally.” And then we had our first

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

The Sheriff’s Biographer P

meeting and I kind of batted around what I was doing a little bit. Then we just started talking. His AG years I knew pretty well. His time as governor was something I knew nothing about. I wasn’t in New York at the time, and I was watching from a great distance, so I had a lot of work to do on that front. So I ended up spending a lot of time in Albany. CH: And what did you think of the capital? PE: It’s a disaster area. It explains why government doesn’t work. That’s part of the tale of seeing his frustration grow, why he was elected with the record landslide he was, on a reform platform, and how much was at stake in his candidacy and his time as governor. And how horribly he disappointed everyone. I mean, his expectations were insurmountable, impossible. But he came in with promises of changing everything on day one and really thought he could transform the place. It certainly didn’t work out that way. CH: Do you think there’s still more of Eliot Spitzer? PE: He would dearly, dearly love to get back in politics, that’s clear. … He desperately misses being in the game. You see him participating in every way he can. He’s writing a column for Slate, he’s giving speeches, he’s making many TV appearances. I think his columns for Slate are probably the best thing he’s done. You know, welcome to journalism, Eliot. CH: Does he have the standing to contribute to the conversation? PE: The fact of the financial crisis has accelerated his rehabilitation, because you’re in a situation where everybody got this wrong, and you’re looking for who was on the right side, and he was. He was raising questions about Wall Street behavior a long time in a very strong way. He was warning about the dangers of deregulation, he was after AIG, he was talking about executive compensation. Prostitutes notwithstanding, I think we should give him his due for having done important things on Wall Street. CH: Do you get the sense, however, that he’s plotting about coming back? Is this part of it? Are you part of it? Or does he just like the give-and-take? PE: I think somewhere in between. When he started writing for Slate, I think no one thought he could make a polit-

ical comeback—at all, certainly not anytime soon. I think that was his way and perhaps the only way at that point for him to play a role in the process. And he finds sitting on the sidelines incredibly frustrating. It drives him nuts. And he wanted to weigh in. And surely there’s ego in there, no question about it. But do I think it was all a master plan to get back in? No. I mean I think it’s more visceral, almost. Think about the way he got back: when he was cleared by the U.S. Attorney’s office, he had a column in the Washington Post almost days later. He was just itching to get back into this. I talked to him during this process and he was kind of bouncing off the wall with things he wanted to say and incredibly frustrated that at the moment his stock should have been the highest—because he was right on the financial disaster—he was muzzled. He had taken himself out. And in terms of the book, is that part of it? Certainly he’s got self-interest in mind—of course. And I think he figured there’s going to be a pretty full airing here by someone who’s pretty serious about this, and is it better to talk to him and cooperate, or not? And he thinks he can get his point across better and be heard. CH: Does he seem frustrated, broken, chastened? PE: I think he’s very chastened, he’s certainly frustrated, albeit less so than he was in the beginning. Because he’s more engaged. And being listened to. Is he broken? He is tortured by how he screwed up, I think, and acutely conscious of it every day. But he’s kind of putting himself back together. It’s not easy. I had a conversation with him where I said, “Every time you talk, you get attacked. Why do you do this? Why do you bother?” And he said, “Well, you know, this is the way the political process works. You inevitably have to take the slings and arrows.” And I said, “Wait a second now, you’re a private citizen. You’re not governor anymore. You don’t have to do this. You’re choosing to do this.” And he’s clearly made a choice to do that, even though it’s pretty brutal. It’s too important to him. And so he’s doing it by choice. CH: Has Spitzer read the book yet? What do you think he will say about it? PE: I got him the book, and I haven’t heard from him whether he’s read it, or how he feels about it. But I’m sure he will read it. I hope to hear what he thinks. I hope he thinks it’s fair. —David Freedlander dfreedlander@cityhallnews.com

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City Hall - April 26, 2010