Thursday, May 19, 2016

As de Blasio defends "agents of the city," new scrutiny for advisor Rosen (who also reps Forest City)

From the Times, De Blasio Pressed to Clarify New Adviser Role: ‘Agent of the City’
City Hall described the ['agent of the city'] designation amid mounting scrutiny over its shielding of communications between the mayor and Jonathan Rosen, whom the counsel to the mayor described at a news conference on Wednesday as an “agent of the city.” Mr. Rosen, who corresponds and meets with the mayor regularly, is also a principal at a public affairs consulting firm, BerlinRosen, whose clients include real estate developers and nonprofits.
...The notion of designating a special class of unpaid advisers — many of whom also represent clients with business before the city — appeared to be an unusual, if not novel, approach to city governance, former officials said. City Hall, however, was careful to clarify that “agent of the city” is not an official designation.
...The determination rankled government watchdogs, who have taken issue with the mayoral consultants paid by the Campaign for One New York, in part because some of their clients do business with the city. “The public has no guarantee that he or other outside consultants are not discussing that business with the mayor,” said Susan Lerner of the nonpartisan Common Cause, referring to Mr. Rosen. “Or that he is using what he’s learned from the mayor for the benefit of his clients.”
Which include Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

Some official criticism

The Wall Street Journal reports, in New York City Mayor Averts Disclosure by Naming Special Advisers:
Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Government, a state panel that is responsible for overseeing the state’s freedom-of-information law, said case law allows a consultant who is retained by a government agency to be treated like a government agency.
But if Mr. Rosen and these other advisers haven’t been retained by city government or paid by city government, they “can’t be characterized as an agent of the city,” Mr. Freeman said.
Rosen and others "have each received money from the mayor’s campaign or nonprofits aligned with him," so:
On Wednesday, when asked whether Mr. Rosen is paid by the city or private clients, Mr. de Blasio suggested the question was “willfully missing the point.”
Not so sure about that. If Rosen is paid by Forest City, why wouldn't he discuss business with the mayor?


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