Friday, September 24, 2010

ESDC VP Bloch leaves to run The Capitol and City Hall newspapers for Manhattan Media

Empire State Development Corporation Executive VP Darren Bloch, one of the agency's top officials overseeing Atlantic Yards, has left to run two well-regarded, specialized newspapers that cover politics: The Capitol and City Hall.

Bloch has not played too public a role in speaking about the project, but in January was on a panel of witnesses that uncomfortably parried probing questions from state Senator Bill Perkins over the agency's practices, notably hiring the ubiquitous environmental consultant AKRF.

In July 2009, he participated in a community information session sponsored by the ESDC, but said relatively little.

Bloch's role in Atlantic Yards presumably diminished in the past month after Arana Hankin was named Project Manager. And like some other agency officials, he might have been wondering about his place in the ESDC under a new gubernatorial administration.

Bloch in May 2009 was described by agency officials as overseeing AY Ombudsman Forrest Taylor, though Taylor had publicly indicated he was reporting to Susan Rahm, a volunteer.

As I wrote in August, additional evidence acquired via a Freedom of Information Law request strongly suggested that Rahm was indeed in charge.

Manhattan Media

The two newspapers are owned by Manhattan Media, which also publishes community weeklies and lifestyle magazines.

In 2005, Manhattan Media published Forest City Ratner's ill-fated Brooklyn Standard "publication" for two issues until bad publicity and (perhaps) an unwillingness to publish a prominent correction regarding the improper use of a freelancer's byline quietly killed it.

Editor Edward-Isaac Dovere was Executive Editor of the Brooklyn Standard, but has since done far more impressive work, such as an excellent January 2009 profile of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Both The Capitol and City Hall fill a valuable niche, publishing incisive articles about topics--e.g., campaigns in the outer boroughs--that the dailies overlook. At the same time, it's an open question how much their coverage will challenge a dysfunctional political system.

After all, The Capitol's pitch to advertisers states:
From the award winning editors of City Hall comes The Capitol, a cost-effective venue to enhance and reinforce your organization’s lobbying and advocacy campaigns.
Here's a Q&A with uber-lobbyist Patricia Lynch.

The official announcement

The announcement:
Darren Bloch has been hired as the new publisher/executive director of Capitol Publishing, the parent company of City Hall & The Capitol.

Bloch is joining Capitol Publishing after serving as the executive vice president at Empire State Development (ESD), New York State’s economic development agency. In that position, he was responsible for programming, subsidiary activities, and communications and oversaw ESD’s relationships with various statewide economic development stakeholders including local and regional business advocacy groups, key state and local elected officials, and individual company and industry representatives.

“This is the first of several steps planned to bring greater focus and resources to our mission while also expanding the brand in a variety of new ways,” said Tom Allon, President / CEO of Manhattan Media the parent company of Capitol Publishing.

Bloch expressed excitement about the new position.

“City Hall and The Capitol have established themselves as truly unique players," Bloch said. "I couldn't be more excited to join the talented group of journalists and business professionals, led by editor Edward-Isaac Dovere, who helped launch these publications and established a true niche for them in the New York political landscape.”

Before going to EDC, Bloch held served as a deputy public advocate for intergovernmental and community Affairs under Betsy Gotbaum, manager of city government relations at Consolidated Edison. He ran for City Council in 2005 on the East Side of Manhattan, and in 2006, was named to City Hall’s inaugural 40 Under 40 list of Rising Stars. The fifth annual edition of the list of rising stars will be released next week.

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