Monday, February 03, 2014

Do they only use the phone, or BlackBerry? Governor's office has no records regarding top advisor Schwartz's role in Atlantic Yards

Could it be that Larry Schwartz, a key aide (Senior Advisor and Secretary) to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his predecessor David Paterson never communicated with developer Forest City Ratner?

No, it's either that he never kept records subject to the state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), or the state is stonewalling.

I'd been told that that Forest City communicates directly with the governor's office, going above Empire State Development (ESD) when necessary. So in July 2012, not long after I received documents related to ESD official Peter Davidson's trip to China on behalf of Forest City Ratner's EB-fundraising effort, indicating that Schwartz had approved Davidson's travel,  I sent a FOIL request for:
copies of records, including email messages and memoranda, regarding communications between Lawrence S. (Larry) Schwartz of Governor’s Office and executives of Forest City Ratner, specifically MaryAnne Gilmartin, Bruce Ratner, Bruce Bender, and Ashley Cotton, regarding the Atlantic Yards project, which includes (but is not limited to) the Barclays Center arena.
I also request copies of records, including email messages and memoranda, regarding communications between Lawrence S. (Larry) Schwartz of Governor’s Office and Arana Hankin of the Governor’s Office and later (as of September 2010) of Empire State Development, regarding the Atlantic Yards project, which includes (but is not limited to) the Barclays Center arena.
In both cases, the time frame for such records is approximately February 2, 2009 through the present. 
The response

As indicated in the letter excerpted at right, I was told last February:
Please be advised that the New York State Executive Chamber has conducted a diligent search, but does not possess records responsive to your request.
That's interesting.

Could it be that Schwartz only communicates by phone with those executives, and similarly with those at Empire State Development? Maybe, but unlikely.

It's more likely that, as described, members of Cuomo's administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo communicate via BlackBerry to ensure that no records are created.

Schwartz worked for Paterson, as well, and, for example, met in December 2009 about Atlantic Yards with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

Very interesting.

About Schwartz

As noted in an 8/20/12 feature in City & State called The Influentials:
Queens native Larry Schwartz is the ringleader of the executive chamber in New York’s Capitol. Deputies and commissioners report to him, and he plays a key role in organizing negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders of both the Senate and Assembly on policy issues and budgets.

Schwartz, the former secretary to Gov. David Paterson, said he got into politics because “no other job gives you so many opportunities to improve people’s lives.”

He is the point man on the governor’s plans to rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge, and helped push on-time budgets in 2011 and 2012. He also helped work on key Cuomo policy pieces, such as the property-tax cap, ethics-reform bill and teacher-evaluation laws.

Moreover, he was a key figure in helping to resolve the World Trade Center dispute between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority.

Schwartz, a senior adviser to the Cuomo administration before taking the position of secretary after the departure of Steve Cohen, sees his role as executing the governor’s policies, and advises anyone considering government work like his to keep the boss in mind.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/01312014-appointments-to-esd

    More staff

    ReplyDelete