Friday, January 27, 2006

The Mayor's Integrity

As we expected, the mayor in his state of the city speech yesterday hit on certain themes that deserve comment. Let's start with his integrity in government rap: "Improving the long-term health of government means strengthening its integrity. We need only look to the scandals in Washington to see what happens when lobbyists and campaign contributors create a culture of 'pay for play'."

Oh boy, that's a real good one! Is there any evidence that this city's lobbyists are exerting the kind of influence that, let's say, Jack Abromoff did in DC? Well, now that we mention it there is one outstanding example of the kind of payola the mayor is alluding to and it involves the matrix around the whole BTM deal.

As the Daily News has reported, all of the folks involved in this Bronx deal have been distributing a great deal more than simple Bronx cheer. There is ample evidence to infer that support for this project fits comfortably into the mayor's "pay for play" scenario. Will he begin his ethical journey by launching an investigation of the BTM project that he has labeled, "the first major retail and commercial development in the South Bronx in decades"?

Will he begin by examining how this immaculate deception got its questionable start at dinner between Dan Doctoroff and Related's Steve Ross? Will he ask the city's COIB to re-open its by now unsupportable finding that Doctoroff had no ongoing conflict in dealing with Ross once he entered government?

Let's not deal with the hypothetical possibility that some lobbyists may create unethical situations through the cash nexus when we have the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room, you know the one that could pass for the mayor's house pet. After all, any potential ethical problems that might exist pale in comparison to the $4 billion gift the city has given to Steve Ross.