Article Archive

DCAS Swallowing DORIS
Would Slight City History
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Councilmember Gale Brewer, who chairs the Council's Committee on Government Operations, held a public hearing this afternoon on an Administration proposal to fold the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) into the much larger Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

DORIS was created in 1977 by a local law championed by former Council President Paul O'Dwyer, adopted by the Council and signed by Mayor Beame in his last year in office. The agency's first commissioner, who served through the administration of Mayor Koch, was Eugene J. Bockman, who had been the Municipal Reference Librarian.

Guide for Agency and Business Managers:
Much That You Are Told Just Isn't True,
What You Are Not Told May Be Decisive.
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, April 22nd, 2011

On April 18 we wrote an article on the decision making process in government. We noted at the time that the great majority of our columns deal with specific situations, generally situations which have gone wrong, problems the authorities have failed to solve, or improper influence being exerted to shape a decision on an issue.

We asked our readers to let us know what they thought about such columns, and whether they wanted us to continue with that kind of analysis. We received no negative comments, and enough favorable ones, to justify our return to discussing some of the more practical aspects of public administration.

Political Decisions Can Be Costly,
Even When Made on the Merits.
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Monday, April 18th, 2011

For nine years we have been writing about New York city and state government. For the most part, when one writes a column, it is to call public attention to a situation which requires correction. Relatively few columns are devoted to the praise of an individual or agency, unless such good work has been bookmarked by those with authority.

This does not mean that we view the government as doing badly on the whole. If one were to do a thorough review, one would find different scores for different agencies, just as a report card could find a student strong in some areas and deficient in others. There are some leaders in government who possess exceptional merit, and there are others whose functioning is below par. Sometimes they are propped up by deputy mayors, City Hall staff, or their own deputy and assistant commissioners, who they either appointed or inherited, or were imposed on them by actors either seeking to help or undermine the hapless commissioner.

Wherefore Art Thou, O Green Book?
We've Waited Three Years For Thee.
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, April 14th, 2011

New York City's Green Book, which has been missing in action for three years, will reappear in July, according to the commissioner in charge of preparing, editing and printing it.

The Green Book is an invaluable compendium of federal, state, and city agencies and executives, including addresses, phone numbers, and an outline of responsibilities. It has been published by the city, and sold to the public, for the last twelve mayoral administrations. It is an annual directory, just like the telephone book, the World Almanac and other works of reference with periodically changing data.

Before Most of You Were Born
Big Fish Swam in State Politics
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

NOTE: A few of you already know most of this history, but the majority will pick up some information which is no longer widely disseminated in 2011. It helps us to know what happened years ago, and how history sometimes repeats itself and sometimes does not. The dispositive rule in some cases is 25-W: What goes around, comes around, or, put more briefly and crudely, 15-P: Payback is a bitch.

New York City politics has changed considerably in the last half century. For one thing, the characters are of diminished stature. For another, more have been unseated by prosecutors than by electoral rivals.

Mayor Fires Chancellor Black
After 97 'Unsatisfactory' Days
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, April 7th, 2011

We were surprised today to learn that Mayor Bloomberg dismissed his hand-picked Schools Chancellor, Cathie Black, after 97 infelicitous days as chief of New York City's school system. The mayor did not set a speed record, however, in dismissing a commissioner who did not work out.

That distinction falls to Mayor Edward I. Koch, who took just 74 days to fire Robert J. Milano, whom Koch had appointed Deputy Mayor for Economic Development at the start of his first term in 1978. Milano died in February 2000, and Koch said today that they parted ways because Milano wanted to expand his agency and Koch wanted to shrink it.