Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ex-Forest City officials Bender and Cantone launch consulting office, cite "existing and future clients"

Bruce Bender and Scott Cantone, formerly the two top government relations officials at Brooklyn-based developer Forest City Ratner, have finally launched Bender Cantone Consulting, which they call "a full service public affairs firm specializing in governmental relations, public policy, political consulting, strategic communications and community outreach." (The BenderCantone.com URL doesn't work yet.) 

Word of the move emerged two months ago, perhaps not coincidentally before both testified in the federal corruption trial that led to the convictions of former Yonkers Council Member Sandy Annabi, a Democrat, and her political mentor and close friend, Zehy Jereis, chairman of the Yonkers Republican Party. A jury agreed that Jereis's nearly $200,000 in payments to Annabi were intended to influence her vote, including her flip on Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill retail/residential project. 

Bender and Cantone, unable to get a meeting with Annabi, finally got one via Jereis, who promptly asked for a job. Forest City strung him along until after Annabi's vote, then hired him for an essentially no-show job, ultimately paying him $15,000. "We were between a rock and a hard place," Bender said on the stand. 

Neither Forest City nor its staffers were charged, but even a pro-development type like Crain's New York Business columnist Greg David criticized the company's "See no evil, hear no evil" posture. 

Bender and Cantone, however much their reputations may have been dinged, said in a mass email Monday that they "look forward to utilizing this experience for the benefit of our existing and future clients," so their connections--built up not merely at Forest City but at the City Council and Mayor's Office, not to mention Brooklyn's powerful Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club--apparently still bear fruit.

Their announcement, reproduced below, offers email and phone contact information but no office address as of yet. Unsurprisingly, it does not mention Ridge Hill.

The announcement
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
After more than a decade at Forest City, we are proud to announce the formation of Bender Cantone Consulting Inc., a full service public affairs firm specializing in governmental relations, public policy, political consulting, strategic communications and community outreach.

Using our combined 40 years of experience in public service and 20 years in the private sector, we will offer clients comprehensive and innovative approaches to solving complex problems.
Over the last decade, we have developed and implemented successful public affairs strategies for some of the City and State’s most visible development projects, and we look forward to utilizing this experience for the benefit of our existing and future clients.

Many thanks to our friends and colleagues for all their support over the years, and we look forward to seeing and hearing from you all soon.
We can be reached at 347-328-1088, or bruce@bendercantone.com and scott@bendercantone.com.
Bruce R. Bender
Bruce is a public affairs veteran having served as a senior governmental official as well as a private sector executive. At FCRC, one of the foremost urban real estate developers in the New York metropolitan area, Bruce oversaw government, media and community affairs including comprehensive PR strategies for some of the largest projects in the NYC metropolitan area. A 25 year government professional, he was Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the New York City Council and responsible for overseeing the City’s legislative and budgetary processes and served as the chief negotiator with the Mayor's Office. Bruce has managed and consulted countless local, city- and state-wide political campaigns over the course of his career. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from NYU and a Masters in Public Policy from the New School for Social Research.
Scott C. Cantone
An experienced government executive and attorney with 15 years of public service, Scott served in both the administrations of New York City Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani. He served in the cabinet of Mayor Giuliani where he was responsible for overseeing the administration's federal, state and city legislative affairs and was Special Counsel to the Deputy Mayor for Operations. As First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), Scott was the Chief Operating Officer of a City agency responsible for managing the city’s real estate portfolio, citywide procurement, and the civil service system. Most recently, Scott was an executive at Forest City Ratner Companies where he developed comprehensive public relations strategies and managed government, community and media affairs. Scott has also held numerous positions with the State Legislature in Albany and has managed and consulted many local, city- and state-wide political campaigns. He holds a Juris Doctor from the City University of New York School of Law and a BA in Political Science and Communications from the State University of New York at Albany.

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