Silver Tries To Protect His Members
But They Keep Getting Into Trouble
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, August 31st, 2012

In our observation of the ethical practices of the New York State Legislature, we notice that challenges seem to arise in bunches. The situation will be relatively quiescent for a while, then something will happen: an accusation, the release of reports, the discovery of data previously concealed or later redacted, a confrontation between powerful figures - an unexpected event that will expose cracks and seams in the existing political structure and may set off a string of seemingly unrelated, but inherently similar, events on other levels of government.

Part of the problem is the enormous imbalance of talent in each house. Speaker Silver is smarter and more practical than the heavy majority that he formally leads. He has an ongoing ethical problem stemming from his private law practice Weitz and Luxenberg, but if that issue is settled, the speaker will be no more vulnerable than most of the colleagues he so diligently protects. To put it simply: Speaker Silver is an insurance policy for his members. He seeks to shield their misdeeds from public scrutiny when he is able to do so. He tries to soften their penalties if they can not be avoided. He supports legislators when they get in trouble, which is too often, and they support him on the public issues which are his priorities.

A Cat Can Look At A King
Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Two weeks ago, we wrote an article, "Mid-Term Review," which gave an overview on the current city administration. Because it was a brief review of over ten years of municipal governance, it necessarily omitted many of the achievements made during that time. We wrote about the mayor’s style, and how his leadership would affect future mayors, since we will presumably have a new one on January 1, 2014. The Bloomberg administration was basically built on Mayor Bloomberg’s hiring choices, which were essentially nonpolitical. We thought about what would happen to managers selected on that basis after the administration ends. We received many responses in the following week, which generally articulated the writers’ overall opinion of the Mayor. Most were favorable, a few were negative.

The most specific response came from former New York State Assemblyman Edward C. Sullivan, who represented upper Manhattan and Morningside Heights for 26 years. Mr Sullivan looked back at the styles in personality and governance of each mayor since 1957, the year he arrived in New York City from New England. Once here, Mr Sullivan taught English as a second language for 15 years at the City University and NYU. He became involved in local issues by joining the Riverside Democrats, a reform club. In 1976 he ran for and won a seat in the New York State Assembly. He served from 1977 until his retirement in 2002. In 1987, he was selected to be Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education.

Jerry Skurnik of Prime New York
Discusses the NYC Board of Elections
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

In our ongoing effort to inform and enlighten our readership about the inner workings of local government, we bring you the following video of our conversation about the New York City Board of Elections with Jerry Skurnik of Prime New York.

Mr Skurnik began his career in politics in 1966 as a campaign volunteer. He went on to play a lead role in Ed Koch's first mayoral campaign, and joined the administration as an assistant and key liaison to elected officials throughout the state.

He left in 1986 to start Prime New York with Stuart Osnow. A voter file vendor and campaign consulting firm, Prime New York is considered the premier voter data and campaign outreach services firm in New York City.

Bloomberg Well Regarded
With Eighteen Months To Go
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, July 6th, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg has now completed seven-eighths of the twelve years he will presumably serve as mayor. In 541 days New York City's next mayor, the 109th, will be inaugurated. During the next 18 months there will likely be a trickle of departures as commissioners and senior managers seek employment which will last beyond December 31, 2013. It is a weakness in our political system that when there is a change of mayors practically all commissioners and senior officials currently serving are expected to leave regardless of how well they have performed their jobs. Imagine a corporation which, every four years, routinely discharged its principal officers. This practice did not start with Mayor Bloomberg. It was the rule in the Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani administrations as well.

One effect of the revolving door system is that competent managers tend to leave government before their mayor's term ends because they need time to find jobs so they can feed their families and educate their children. No one wants to be the last man or woman out the door. Nor is it comfortable to watch on'’s colleagues being replaced by people selected to pay political debts and without regard to merit and fitness.

McCarren Pool Open
For A New Generation
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, June 28th, 2012

 

Today, on a glorious summer morning, the city opened the new McCarren Pool and Play Center, a multi-purpose recreational area whose centerpiece is McCarren Pool, one of the eleven Robert Moses built in 1936 as commissioner of the city Parks Department with federal funds provided as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's efforts to fight the Great Depression.

Mayor Bloomberg presided at the ceremony, held on the pool deck, which concluded with hundreds of neighborhood youth jumping into the water. They could not dive, because the water is four feet deep, but the cooling effect of the water on a hot summer day provided equal pleasure, as well as safety, which is Rule One of the Rules of the Pools.

Today's opening completed a project which was the Parks equivalent of the Second Avenue Subway Line. The pool closed in 1984 because of mechanical failures which became impractical to repair. For twenty-eight years the pool remained drained although in 2005 cultural programs made use of the empty pool.

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