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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Looming - Ummmm - FOIL

How Do You Like Dem Apples?

To FOIL or not to FOIL? 'Twas never our question...

Our question was simply to challenge what we've all come to know as Council shenaniganism.

For our purposes here, Council shenaniganism can be simply defined as a protective, heavily spun, institutional mindset that leads a collective group of people to drink so much kool aid that their misstatement of reality becomes inevitable.

And while, admittedly, our FOIL request was written in haste, all we wanted to double check is whether or not the Council was aptly stating reality. Were the percentages quoted to the press of women and people of color on central staff accurate? Or were they more like Miller's $37,000-turn-$1.6 million mailings?

And we'd like proof. Not just with a copy of their calculations, but with back-up documentation as well. And since we know a lot of people currently and previously on staff at the Council, we thought the full list of names before and after the firings would suffice.

We'll find out how the Council responds tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Y B Lame?

The Times Wants to Know

The edit heads at the Times kick in their two cents worth today about the Spitzer-Suozzi showdown that could be (if the Democratic establishment gets out of the way). Here's what they've got to say:

New York Democratic leaders are understandably more interested in victory than in an enlightening, hard-fought campaign, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to fall in line. While it is far too early to choose favorites in this contest, we do believe that competition is better than coronation.

Albany has long been enamored of elections that are over before the nominating conventions begin. And that may be one of the reasons the state government has such a dismal reputation. Win or lose, if Mr. Suozzi manages to engage Mr. Spitzer in a clash of ideas on how to make Albany work better, he will have served the voters well.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Absolut Lame!

And Unimpressive

No matter what you think of Tom Suozzi, and whether or not he ultimately stands a shot at the Governorship, we've gotta ask ... what up with Spitzer's ballot balk?

Trying to block your opponent from the ballot? We could not imagine a more insiderish maneuver.

Same shit. Different candidate.

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!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ducket$ Before; Ducket$ After

Ummm ... Give or Take

Is the trend our friend? Here are two recent examples of how our City Council set, but then failed to meet, our expectations.

Miller Mailings

Before: $37, 000
After: $1,600,000

Salary of Ramon Martinez, Quinn's Deputy Chief of Staff

Before: "Slightly higher" than $160, 000
After: $180,000

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Can't Say We Didn't See This Coming...

... From a Mile Away!

This was left for us in our comments section. Can't say we completely agree with the policy position, but massive entertainment value indeed.

Brought to you by the producers of the website, http://www.vitolopez.com at extension "/staffterm-tshirt.jpg"

Quinn's Reassurance

What's It Worth Now-a-Days?

Apparently ... not so much.

The massive bloodletting at the Council, and especially the manner in which the blood was let, seems to be backfiring a bit on la Speaker and her not-yet-chucked Chief of Staff.

Winnie Hu of The New York Times writes in today's paper about Quinn's seemingly rushed attempt to clean up her mess. She held a marathon of morale boosting meetings yesterday with the witnesses to the massacre, those now left behind to serve at the pleasure of la Speaker. And we quote:

Ms. Quinn spent several hours meeting with every division at the Council's offices at 250 Broadway, across the street from City Hall, Council aides said. But when asked directly by a staff member, she refused to rule out additional action, said several people who attended the meetings.


And of the way the firings transpired, Hu had this to say:

The employees received hand-delivered letters, were locked out of their computers within the hour, and were told to leave by the end of the day.


NICE.

Also worth noting: The Politicker logged in over 330 comments on the Quinn firings thread - the most comments ever for one posting (for at least as far back as we can remember).

And this blog has been on the receiving end of a vociferous and mixed bag of criticism and support for starting to publish a list of Quinn's axed political targets and new hires.

Which, btw, also led us to publish the public source of our salary information; which subsequently got an extraordinary number of hits.

Go figure!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service?

The Code

Frankie Edozien of the New York Post reports this morning in a strangely constructed article about the Speaker's new Council dress code. Edozien makes sure to insert mention of last Friday's bloodbath, though arguably there is no direct relation between Quinn's firings and the dress code memo. But the attempt at relevance was enjoyable no less.

Though worth mentioning, is that Quinn's new dress code will now put a disproportionate burden on lower wage, back-office staff who never have or will interact with the outside world ... ummmm ... a regressive tax of sorts?

Click here for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Let Your Fingers Do the Talking!

A Salary Free-for-All

Just to make sure that every reader out there has equal access to everyone's information, not just of those who were recently let go (and those who were and will be hired to replace them) allow us to guide you to publicly available resources.

For a list of salaries of any public employee in New York City ... hired, fired or otherwise, as of April 2005, click below:

Last names: A - L, click here

Last names: L - Z, click here

This moment of transparency in government brought to you by the New York City Department of Records ... enjoy!

Correction: The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is actually responsible for the production of the lists. We are told that the Department of Records simply posts DCAS's lists.

Quinn's Hit List

We're Working On It

But, obviously, don't yet have access to all the records. So whatever you know, please email us at publicsway@yahoo.com or post in the comments section, and we'll update this list over the coming hours and days. And btw, we have included the last published salaries to which we have access. And for those without salaries, we probably don't have the correct spellings of their names.

Also, to the employees who were let go ... since we assume most of you were let go for political reasons (and none other), we are happy to link your current email addresses to your names should you desire to make yourselves available to potential employers. Simply email us your email address to publicsway@yahoo.com.

Legislative Records
C. Cherry, $116, 975

Appointment Investigations/General Counsel's Office
J. Damashek, $165, 202
S. Lifrak, $92, 466
S. Goldstein, $103, 607
J. Graham
B.

Press Office
D. Luhman, $53, 892
S. Gladstone
S. Mikutel, $37, 500
E. Castaniera, $44, 334
T. Doulalas, $31, 518
K.

Investigations
D. Fingerman, $37, 000

Administrative Services
E. Gyima-Mensah, $74, 865
R. Arbelo, $52, 831

Computer Services
P. Zubel, $119, 760
T. Mark, $77, 564

Finance
L. Angelo $165, 050
F. Cheech Trammantano, $128, 750
K. Stroman, $67, 117

Member Services
J. Perez, $35, 092
L. J. Williams, $50, 000

Infrastructure/Central Staff Attorneys/Policy
M. Goldey, $69, 830
S. Dillon
B. Kuruvila, $66, 950
N. Ranney

Resignation
M. Nieves, $143, 360

The Management Team/New Hires
C. Meara, $175, 000; Chief of Staff
R. Martinez, $180, 000; Deputy Chief of Staff
M. Keaney, Deputy Chief of Staff
L. Mayo, Director of Policy
M. Keogh, Director of Finance
S. Crowley, Deputy Director of Finance
U. Rafael Martinez, Deputy Chief of Staff
M. Alvarado, $90, 000; Press Secretary
K. Wardally, $108, 150; Deputy Chief of Staff
E. Fine, $160, 000; General Counsel

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Conservative on Compassion?

Behind the Massacre

The dailies go all-out today on Quinn's demolition derby at the Council yesterday.

The New York Times, the Daily News, and the New York Post.

Turns out, in her path were 61 Council staffers, from low-level $25,000/year secretaries to high-level management earning over $160,000, from press officers to the Director of Finance to the attorney who brought allegations of sexual harassment against the Council and former Queens Council Member Alan Jennings.

But the backstory seems to include a thread of nastiness in the way the firings were executed ('xcuse the pun). No biggie, right? Because isn't that how it's done in the private sector? So seems to go the argument of proponents of Quinn's methodology.

But with so much noise coming out of Quinn and her Council about workers' rights (for example, see here), tis hard not to take notice of the irony and hypocrisy of letting longtime staff members go in such a callous manner, without even a discussion of outplacement services, etc.

Where's the love?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Word On the Street

Meet the Council's New Finance Director

As The Politicker reminded us today, Quinn had a massive urge to purge. And in the depths of her purge was Larian Angelo, the Council's Miller-time Finance Director.

We've gotta say, our hopes were riding high for all of the last few hours. We thought maybe, just maybe, Quinn would bring some real life into the Finance position - which indeed, has suffered tremendously over the years. We thought maybe Quinn would try to recruit some stars from the private sector to match Bloomberg's financial savvy.

But unfortunately, it appears that this will not be the case. Sources say Quinn has tapped - of all people - Queens boy Michael Keogh, husband of Clinton New York State trooper, Karen Persichilli (also of Council fame) to lead Finance. Not too long ago, Keogh served as the General Counsel to the New York City Districting Commission.

It's official, boys and girls, Quinn's hack attack continues!

And Just to Make It Official

We Were Off By 3%

Straight from the Council's Press Office:

The Council is in the midst of significant restructuring. A number of staff
members will be notified that effective the close of business today, their
empoloyment will be terminated. In total, 60 individuals - 22 percent of
the City Council's central staff - will be notified.

Staff appointments will be announced over the coming weeks.

The Messy Massacre

The Faucet is Leaking

Apparently we're not the only ones privvy to the rumors that the Council staff is about to get chopped in quarter.

Frankie Edozien of the Post had this to say today:

Speaker Christine Quinn will soon hand out pink slips to as many as 60 City Council employees, The Post has learned.

The firings, some of which could come as early as today, involve many mid-level staffers hired under her predecessor, former speaker Gifford Miller.

Reformia

Part Deux

We've got to hand it to our new Speaker, Christine Quinn. She seems to be playin' her cards just right.

Yesterday, the Council jefe stood side by side with el Mayor B, as they announced their intentions to pass a package of lobbying reforms ... which we likey very much!

It's a five point plan that seeks to accomplish the following:
  • ban gifts from lobbyists to government officials
  • strengthen enforcement of the lobbying law and double the maximum penalties for violations
  • mandate that lobbyist disclose information about their political consulting and fundraising clients
  • create an online filing system for lobbyists, enhancing the speed and accuracy of public disclosure
  • close the gaping loop-hole that allows lobbyists' contributions to be matched with public funds
Again, no complaints from us. We just hope that Mayor B did not in any way trade reformia for term limits.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Shift in Power

Mayor Gets More

Yesterday, the State Court of Appeals ruled that the Mayor no longer has to enforce laws that he deems to be illegal, reducing the City Council's balance of power even further.

Speaker Quinn, admitting that this is indeed a setback for the Council, had this to say in The New York Times:

"What this says is if the mayor disregards our law, I have to sue first as opposed to the reverse," she said. "So that's a technical matter of who assembles their lawyers first, and you know, I hope we don't have to do that but we are fully prepared to do that if and when we have to uphold the law."

The legal professions, again, proves a good place to be!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Better Know a District

Or Better Know Your Love Life?

Jerry Nadler, of New York's 8th Congressional District, probably had some explaining to do when he got home last night ... something about a wife and a girlfriend.

Take a look. This is from last night, care of Comedy Central's Colbert Report.

Mikey to Albany: FUs All Around

At Least to Pataki, Silver and Bruno

We very much likey the latest path of Mayor Mikey. And we must say, 'twas quite refreshing to see Democratic strongholds Randi Weingarten and Speaker Quinn backing up the Mikester.

All the papers this morning have something to say about it:

Monday, February 13, 2006

Frontal Attack

Quinn's Snow Job?

It seems like Winnie Hu is as puzzled as are others about Speaker Quinn's sudden case of reformia. In a piece today in the Times, Hu profiles Quinn's latest bout of reform against a backdrop of ass-kissing and cynicism.

The ass-kissing continues to come from colleague Council Member Eric Gioia, whose balls Quinn so obviously squeezed in a manner he's never experienced before. And the cynicism, well, it comes from the likes of advocate, Gene Russianoff (the scrappy Straphanger) and Council Member Charles Barron (the "mental health = slapping white people" dude).

For what it's worth, here's our thought of the day ... Could it be that Quinn is simply laying the land for a more favorable term limits battle?

Yes, you can count us in the cynics' corner...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Winners and Losers!

It's That Time Boys and Girls

So we wrap up our coverage of the 2005-2006 Speaker's race, now that the dust has settled, with your winners and losers. You emailed and commented, and we've compiled 'em right here.







Winners

  • Queens Honcho Tom Manton (like the house, always wins)
  • Christine Quinn (as we state the obvious)
  • Mayor Mike (for wielding his backroom wand)
  • Brooklyn Honcho Vito Lopez (for getting Brooklyn a seat at the table)
  • Newbies: East Side Council Members Garodnick, Lappin, Mendez, White & Dickens
  • NYC Real Estate (ownership)
  • Quinn's Opponents: Council Members Fidler, Katz, Comrie, Rivera and Weprin (for maintaining or improving their lots in life)
  • Quinn's Other Colleagues: Council Members Oddo, Reyna and Jackson
  • The LGBT Community (gayphoria rocked the country)
  • Unions (for scoring Bill's bill scorning the CFB's single-source ruling)
  • Backroomie (to toot our own horn)

Neutral

  • Quinn Opponent and Runner-up: Council Member Bill de Blasio (for folding and sealing a leadership post, but also leaving his supporters in the lurch)
  • Bronx Honcho Jose Rivera

Losers
  • de Blasio supporter Council Member Leticia James (for playing a bad game of poker)
  • de Blasio supporter Council Member Mike Nelson (sitting in the back of the room with a lulu reduction)
  • de Blasio supporter Council Member James Sanders (loses Economic Development post)
  • de Blasio supporter Council Member Charles Barron (now sitting under the watchful eye of Thomas Jefferson)
  • de Blasio supporter Council Member Gale Brewer (left holding the term limits bag)
  • de Blasio supporter Council Member Yvette Clarke
  • The Parkside Group and others in the Miller lobbying establishment
  • Council Member Eric Gioia (friend or foe?)
  • The Voters (who twice enacted term limits; can you say bye-bye?)
  • Newbies: Council Members Mealey, Vacca and Mark-Viverito
  • Some Miller and Vallone staff holdovers (though they may not all know it as of yet)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mikey to Give Bruno His Fair Share!

As NYC Waits and Waits and Waits for Its...

Kenneth Lovett and Stephanie Gaskell of the New York Post report this morning that Mayor B is fanning the flames in the war against Albany ... setting six fires, to be exact.

Bloomberg aides are now whispering that Serph Maltese is but the first - and obvious - target in Bloomy's campaign to destroy his party's choke-hold on the State Senate.

Other targets on the agenda include: Frank Padavan in Queens, Kemp Hannon and Carl Mercellino in Nassau County, Ceasar Trunzo and Owen Johnson in Suffolk County, and Nick Spano in Westchester.

Why is the Mayor going out of his way to take on Bruno's posse? Simply to get NYC its fair share of overdue education resources...

We likey!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Paybarah's Payback's a Bitch

...for the NY Press

Quick shoutout of fellow blogger Azi Paybarah and his colleagues on the editorial staff of the New York Press. They all walked out last night after the publisher of the Press backed down in the last minute from printing the Danish cartoons at the center of the global crisis, the cartoons depticting the prophet Mohammed.

Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel sent out this email last night on behalf of the editorial staff (hat tip to The Politicker):

New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization. Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group—consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editor Jonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.

We have no desire to be free speech martyrs, but it would have been nakedly hypocritical to avoid the same cartoons we'd criticized others for not running, cartoons that however absurdly have inspired arson, kidnapping and murder and forced cartoonists in at least two continents to go into hiding. Editors have already been forced to leave papers in Jordan and France for having run these cartoons. We have no illusions about the power of the Press (NY Press, we mean), but even on the far margins of the world-historical stage, we are not willing to side with the enemies of the values we hold dear, a free press not least among them.

This was not an easy decision. I've been reading the Press since 1988 and have dreamed of running it for nearly as long. The paper's editorial staff has worked impossibly hard hours and has come quite a ways in only a few months towards restoring the paper's tarnished editorial reputation and credibility. I'm proud of the work we've done, and wish we'd had time to finish the job. I wish the Press all the best, and hope that under new ownership and leadership it can again be an invaluable read for all good Gothamites.

And Bruno-a-Mano

Right Back at Ya, Mikey!

Apparently Senate Majority Leader Bruno does not take kindly to threats, veiled or otherwise.

The NY Times and New York Post report today that Bruno had these words of warning for the Mayor:

"I know that people that know me know that the way you deal with us is not to bully and not to threaten," Mr. Bruno said. "The mayor is smart enough to know that. And the mayor is also smart enough to know that bullies end up getting bloody noses."

We hear at Backroomie are siding with the Mayor on this one. Truth be told, we find it quite hard to give a damn about anything anyone in Albany has to say, especially when it comes to helping the City of New York.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mano-a-Bruno

Watch Bloomy Go!

We admit, we're completely entertained! Watching Mayor B squeeze whatever life is left out of his party is proving to be an interesting exercise in (a)political maneuvering.

Paybarah covers the payback at the NY Press, providing great coverage of the ins and outs of Mike's latest attempt to bitch-slap the Senate Majority Leader. Click here to peruse! And the Urban Elephants add their own coverage to the mix.

Meanwhile, Michael Saul of the Daily News picks up on the story today, quoting Bloomberg as saying:

"I'm going to do the best I can for New York City - that's the only criteria I will use in determining who to support," said Bloomberg, a Republican.

And Marc Humbert of Newsday, has this to add.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Caught on Tape

The Shooting of Councilman James Davis

Over the weekend, CBS news released a chilling tape of that day in 2003 when Councilman James Davis was gunned down by his political rival, Othiel Askew, in the balcony of the Council Chambers.

In this piece, reporter Scott Weinberger gives a well deserved shout-out to City Council clerk Vincent Bonavita for maintaining his cool, and helping direct officers to the gunman.

But while Bonavita doesn't think twice about protecting the people around him, take a look at your Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum... the game whackamole comes to mind!

Click here to view!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Bloody Friday!

Wam, Bam, Thank You Ma'am?

Speaker Miller made famous the Valentine's Day Massacre. Now, word on the street is that Speaker Quinn just axed, or is about to ax, a sizable chunk of the Council's central staff (Miller and Vallone holdovers).

More to come...

Money in the Lobby

Actually, It'$ Everywhere

In case you had any lingering doubts, doubt no more. Politics has truly become the art of getting paid.

The New York Times and New York Post report this morning how more and more political consultant's are making their money as lobbyists; often lobbying the same elected officials they put into office.

Top on the list of violators last year was The Parkside Group, according to a report just released by Citizens Union..

And Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, had this to say in today's Times:

...the growing trend underscored the need for the city to strengthen its lobbying laws. He said elected officials who pay consultant-lobbyists for their advice, and then encounter them in their role as lobbyists, face potential ethical dilemmas.

"When a consultant recommends to the candidate that the candidate take a position on a particular issue, how impartial is that advice?" said Mr. Dadey. "When a campaign consultant invoices his candidate, but is also working for a lobbying client, will the consultant discount the bill because the consultant knows there may be greater access in the future to the candidate if elected?"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Christine Q's Poll Dance

In the Gayphorosphere

Speaker Quinn's favorables after nearly one-month in office seem quite high, 16% to be exact according to today's Q Poll.

This might be an all-time record for new Speakers, though we admit that the list of comparison is rather short.

But will it last? How far does gayphoria take you, some wonder...

The New Budget Process

What Is It?

We have a very simple question to ask anyone who may know. What is this new budget process that Speaker Quinn is proposing?

We've heard a lot about it, but so far haven't a clue what it actually means.

Please advise!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Winners & Losers

We're Listenin'

Speaker Quinn is approaching her one month anniversary. Committee posts have been decided, lulus inflated, bosses pleased, favors curried, lobbyists promised ... and on and on ...

We just want to know the winners and losers. Who's up, who's down? Who's in, who's out?

You tell us. Tell us in the comments section or tell us by email at publicsway@yahoo.com.

We'll publish the results next week. Stay tuned!