Shining bright lights on backroom deals in the NYC body politic.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Staffed Central

Truth Be Told

Experience (and sources) tell us that there's the possibility - and we stress - a possibility - that ... well ... at the Council, things are never as they seem; that there may be a bit of hocus pocus going on.

So, we thought we'd check out the magic tricks first hand.

When the Council released an official statement to The Politicker and other publications (including The New York Times) about the percentage of its staff, that prior to last Friday's massacre, it considered to be of color, a Council spokeswoman had this to say:

"...before the firings, 43% of the staff were people of color, and 45% were women."

What she did not make clear in her statement was whether or not the "staff" she was referring to - the denominator in the calculation - was comprised of the entire City Council staff (which would have included the independently hired staff of each of the 51 Council Members) or, only the Speaker Quinn-controlled "central staff".

We've emailed the Spokeswoman, and emailed Quinn's Chief of Stuff, but so far, have gotten no reply.

So yesterday, we sent the Council's new General Counsel a request under the Freedom of Information Law (click on the image to view and enlarge the request).

Not a peep from them as of yet!

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to keep on top of it! If only the NYC press was as diligent.

1:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Backroomie! However, just remember that Ed O'Malley is the FOIL officer. O'Malley is connected to Queens Boss Tom Manton and has gotten every job he has ever held ONLY because of his connection to Queens.

3:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bring it, roomie!

7:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AS the Speaker has NO control over the staffing of individual members, the stats you were given were for Central Staff. I am startng to think that Backroomie is Chas Barron, seeing race in everything.....get real.

9:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:23, if what you are claiming were true, how come the her spokeswoman wouldn't answer questions emailed to her??

I'm with you backrommie, FOIL them!

11:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

chuck would not answer either

11:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some back of the envelope calculations with numbers I have seen around...

Total Staff 240
Percent "minority" 103 43%
Percent "women" 108 45%
Fired Staff 61
Percent fired 25%
Fired "minority" 28 46%
Fired "women" 26 43%
Reduced Council 179
Positions left "minority" 75
Positions left "women" 82
Percent minority after firing 42%
Percent women after firing 46%
Percent female in NYC population is 52.7%
Percent Black (25.4%) and Hispanic (26.9%) in NYC population is 52.3%
if you add Asian (10.7%) the pecent "minority" is 63%...

CUNYProf

9:55 AM

 
Blogger Backroom Deal Breaker said...

Numbers you have "seen around"?

CUNYProf, please, do tell where one simply sees such numbers around.

We can only hope that the Council will do the right thing and share these numbers - and the list of names attached to them - with us and the public as well.

11:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Backroomie! what an honor. Literally just did calculations from numbers reported here and in Politiker…We will have a better sense of where things end up once we know who was hired to substitute for those who were let go.

Total Staff read somewhere it was 240 or 241—please correct
Percent "minority" 103 calculated 43% from press reports
Percent "women" 108 calculated 45% from press reports
Fired Staff 61 from press reports
Percent fired 25% calculated
Fired "minority" 28 calculated 46% from press reports
Fired "women" 26 calculated 43% from press reports
(a) Reduced Council 179 (calculated 240-61=179)
(b) Positions left "minority" 75 calculated
© Positions left "women" 82 calculcated
(d) Percent minority after firing 42% calculcated (b/a)
(e) Percent women after firing 46% calculated (c/a)
Percent female in NYC population is 52.7% (from 2000 census)
Percent Black (25.4%) and Hispanic (26.9%) in NYC population is 52.3%
if you add Asian (10.7%) the pecent "minority" is 63%...(from 2000 census)

CUNYProf

12:14 PM

 
Blogger Backroom Deal Breaker said...

Got ya.

So just to be clear, all of your calculations are based off of the 240 number?

You were working backwards from that number with the percentages to come up with the absolute numbers - is that correct?

Because we're questioning both the 240 number (i.e., whether or not they actually used it) as well as the percentages given in the press reports, both of which you seem to have already turned into working assumptions. Do you agree with that assessment?

Thank you for taking the time to clarify.

12:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I worked backwards assuming a total of 240 and the reported percentages of staff before the firings and percentages of staff fired as reported.

My points were that:
a) to examine impact we have to compare % minority and women of central staff only (I agree with you on this point) before versus (once vacancies have been filled) after; and
b) council staff has a long way to go before it represents % female and % "minority" in the city.

Apologies for any confusion. Thanks for your work.

CUNYProf

1:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so roommie, FOIL them!!

2:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know there are Eskimos n this City too...

BTW, I have read that 22% of NYers do an excellent job at their work.
35% are merely competeent and 23% are mediocre.
So where is the fair representation of mediocrity!
Cmon....unless someone has some real indication that there was racial bias in the firings, let off. You guys would make Barron proud!
Sign me
Sen Quentin Burdick

10:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:59, obviously you work for the Speaker. The question is a fair one, no one can be so sure unless they work for the speaker and 1) know for a fact that the claim is true, or 2) are trying to hide the truth.
YOU would make Quinn proud!!

7:49 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

doesn't sound to me like roomie's question is just about race representation among council staff; sounds like it's also about whether or not the current council staff is stating the truth about its employment statistics to the media.

so trying to simply lump roomie in with barron seems a bit short-sighted.

6:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the GC does not respond to your FOIL immediately, just Article 78 her! Don'[t worry, the Brennan Center won't rep. her.

12:06 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it hasnt occurred to any of you that the race of an employee is not likely to be found on any document that can be foiled. I assume that pardon the pun Quinn's staff did a quick and dirty on Central Staff and of the fired to give you numbers.
Duh?

4:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, you can still do an Article 78 proceeding to obtain the info.

10:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn's people kept track of people's race, believe me.

11:17 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The years of service per employee fired is also very interesting. That ought to be made public as well.

7:07 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone clarify whether City Hall must reply by a certain date?

And how would article 78 be a better recourse?

8:13 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone, take a deep breath please. First, this blog is not Ben Smith's blog. That's the Observer. I have no idea who runs this blog as they have chosen to maintain their anonymity for better or worse. And in contrast to the Observer, this blog seems to have more substance.

Second, the NY Freedom of Information Law (not Act - which is the Federal version), commonly shortened as "FOIL," is embodied in the Public Officer's Law. So everyone go get a copy -- it's on the NYS Dept. of State web site. They also have explanatory material which are useful.

Third, an email address cannot make a valid FOIL request, as was done here. Remember, they choose to remain anonymous, so the blog creators would need a proxy to make a valid FOIL request. There is a list of exceptions to FOIL which are listed in the law, and (if I remember correctly) there are different rules for agencies, legislatures and the judiciary.

The agency where the request has been made has (if I remember) 5 days to respond. In the real world that usually means 5 days to acknowledge receipt of the request - which is often just a postcard.

The FOIL production often occurs weeks and months afterwards assuming the agency does not refuse based on one of the listed grounds. Every agency has a designated FOIL officer. In some cases they have entire departments devoted to FOILS. In some cases their job is to obfuscate and delay rather than create transparency.

If a document does not exist (or can't be found after a diligent search), then they're off the hook. FOIL does not require the preparation of a document that does not exist already, or compiling information that does not exist in a prepared document. Often agencies rely on the exeception of a document being an internal memorandum.

Now, if an agency does not respond, the requestor usually has the opportunity to deem the request denied and must appeal to the head of the agency, so that's another process in itself.

An Article 78 (from CPLR) is not something that one does during a lunch break. It takes time, often a lawyer, service of papers, around $300 to file and so on. Once a judge gets it, it might take several months for a decision.

All in all, by the time anything is done -- assuming City Council decides to resist -- the issue is dead.

The point is that there is often more than one way to skin a cat.

MX

9:12 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear MX,
Thank you as that was both enlightening and correct. Since you are clear on the issue, might you opine for the masses as well as to the liklihood that any document in possession of the Council might include the ethnicity of the employee, their religion for that matter either?
thank you.
Sign me
Someone who appreciates your sanity

12:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Speaker's office must have this information, remmember? She put out the numbers and that's how this all started. Some people who work at ther office can't keep track of an argument... my tax dollars at work!

3:16 PM

 
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