Wednesday, November 04, 2015

BerlinRosen, linked to Forest City, is key to de Blasio's reliance on private consultants

From the New York Times,  Mayor de Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall:
For their place in the mayor’s orbit, these consultants have been well compensated: In the first year and a half of his term, their firms have collected nearly $2.3 million in payments. Most of the money has come from a nonprofit organization, the Campaign for One New York, that was created by political professionals from his mayoral campaign as a vehicle to push his initiatives, and whose donors have included real estate developers and unions.
...The mayor’s reliance on private consultants seems to run contrary to the image he has cultivated. As mayor, he has criticized the role that the “consultant class” played in politics; in his previous elective office, as the city’s public advocate, he assailed the influence of political donors hiding behind “political committees that masquerade as tax-exempt nonprofits.”
Yet a review by The New York Times of hundreds of pages of the mayor’s daily schedules, as well as email correspondence and other records, shows the central role that private consultants have played in his administration. The correspondence highlights how some consultants have almost unfiltered access to City Hall, with the dialogue conveying a casual atmosphere.
The communications strategy for the Campaign for One New York’s work to promote the mayor’s agenda has been overseen by BerlinRosen, a public affairs consulting firm known for its political work. It represents numerous clients that do business with the city, including real estate developers and nonprofit organizations. The firm had a central role in Mr. de Blasio’s successful bid for City Hall, and one of its principals, Jonathan Rosen, is a close friend and adviser.
It is not unusual for elected officials to seek the counsel of outside advisers or friends as they formulate policy or navigate turbulent political waters. But Mr. de Blasio has given new dimension to that practice, meeting with some consultants more often than some senior members of his administration.
The Forest City mention

Lower down, the article states:
Mr. Rosen’s request was one of a number of instances in which he dealt with City Hall on behalf of BerlinRosen clients — during the same period that he was advising Mr. de Blasio, and his firm was being paid by the mayor’s nonprofit. Some of BerlinRosen’s clients include the real estate companies SL Green Realty Corporation, Forest City Ratner Companies and Two Trees Management, as well as the ride-hailing company Lyft.
...“We do not lobby the mayor — or anybody else for that matter — and all of our communications with the administration are entirely appropriate,” said Dan Levitan, a vice president at BerlinRosen. Mr. Levitan is a good representative of the firm’s multilayered work for the mayor: He serves as the spokesman for the Campaign for One New York, and was a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 campaign.
Last year, BerlinRosen successfully recruited Mr. de Blasio to record a video paying tribute to Forest City Ratner’s executive chairman, Bruce C. Ratner, and its president and chief executive, MaryAnne Gilmartin, that was played at a gala dinner for the Municipal Art Society of New York at which Mr. Ratner and Ms. Gilmartin were being honored.

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