Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Early April Fools Joke: COIB Clears Deputy Dan

In a decision that demonstrates its usual lack of perspicacity, the city's Conflicts of Interest Board has cleared New York's Prince Charming, Deputy Dan Doctoroff, to continue to be involved in some of this town's major real estate decisions-the most glaring being the ongoing saga over Moynihan Station. As the Board said: "Thus the administration still believes that without Mr, Doctoroff's continued involvement in this extraordinarily complex negotiation process, the city's position would be seriously undermined..." Not to mention the position of some of his close friends!

What a load of crap! The most germane section of the ruling on Doctoroff begins; "He convened all relevant stakeholders on behalf of the city..." On behalf of the city? Or perhaps better stated, on behalf of the stakeholders themselves-the twin lions, Related and Vornado; Deputy Dan's close buds. So the CIOB continues to whitewash all that Dan has done for his good friends-in particular Steve Ross of Related who he deeded the entire Bronx Terminal Market to without the benefit of a bidding process. If there's no conflict with Doctoroff and Ross, there's no such thing as a conflict possible anywhere in municipal government.

At the time, the COIB declared that the Doctoroff/Ross dealings didn't amount to a conflict because their relationship predated the entry of the Prince into the service of the people; which was a crock considering the fact that Ross was not only heading NYC 2012, the leading policy objective of the mayor's first term, but he was also bailing out Doctoroff's loan to the Olympic Committee.

That decision of the COIB, cited by Eliot Brown in Real Estate, is as good an argument as we've seen for the need to disband the entity for sheer hypocrisy, not to mention uselessness. But any discussion of the current decision needs to be seen in the context of the COIB's original inane ruling.

In this morning's NY Times, the paper does raise some questions about the board's most recent decision: "The opinion advises Mr. Doctoroff to recuse himself from any discussions between Bloomberg L.P. and Vornado for one year from the date of the conclusion of the Moynihan Station negotiations, and from all dealings involving Vornado or Bloomberg L.P. in any of the other projects addressed in the ruling. Gene Russianoff, a senior lawyer for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said he agreed with much of the ruling but was troubled by the absence of the railyards and the station exception. “I can see recusing himself from landlord-tenant matters with Vornado, but is Vornado going to say, ‘O.K., we’re going to jack up the rent when we’re trying to make some kind of deal over Moynihan,’ ” Mr. Russianoff said.

Still, the one weakness in the Times story is the absence of any discussion of the Doctoroff/Ross relationship, and the COIB's inexplicable whitewash of the conflicts inherent in the continued shilling Deputy Dan did on behalf of Related for his entire tenure in office

While the majority of the press corps sleeps on all of this, the mayor is allowed to pontificate with impunity on the way in which he transcends the so-called special interests. But as we've said many times before, Bloomberg's not above the special interests, he's their embodiment.