Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stark Reality

Well, well, now. The ultimate repository of probity and competence-otherwise known as the Bloomberg administration-has been exposed as, at best, an overstated text book case for good government. With the announced resignation of the city's finance commissioner-the Tammany wannabe Martha Stark-the Bloombergistas have some explaining to do: "Bloomberg had asked the city Conflict of Interest Board and Department of Investigation to look into reports that Stark has a personal relationship with Dara Ottley-Brown, a former assistant finance commissioner who now works at the Board of Standards & Appeals. Ottley-Brown left Finance in November 2006. She divorced her husband the following summer, and he was hired just over two months later by the Finance Department as a $78,000-a-year graphic artist. Stark, who unsuccessfully sought to replace former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi in 2007, has been on the hot seat for weeks, and not just related to this relationship."

So now we are to be afraid of the return of the political hacks, because? And Bloomberg, it should be pointed out, took a very long time to distance himself from this ethically challenged appointee: "Bloomberg initially defended Stark in the wake of reports that she had earned more than $134,000 in 2006 and 2007 for serving as the director of Tarragon Corp., a national real estate company. Stark said she had obtained official approval to sit on Tarragon's board, but resigned after the mayor questioned whether the administration had been properly informed."

So, please do tell us, where was the vaunted managerial expertise of the current administration? And remember that when the issue of her lucrative moonlighting was first exposed, Bloomberg had this to say: "The mayor’s remarks were in contrast to those he made a month ago when Ms. Stark, who is in charge of collecting $22 billion in tax revenues and of assessing $800 billion in taxable property, was found to have earned $90,000 in 2007 for her work as a member of the board of directors of an outside firm. She resigned from the board of that firm and the mayor said, “I have enormous confidence” in her."

That is, until more stuff hit the fan, and even the ever loyal Bloomberg had to realize that there was no more defense for this self server. But it took the Post's expose of her canoodling to get this ethical challenge jump started: "City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark has been dating a former assistant commissioner in her department -- which also hired her lover's ex-husband and three of Stark's family members, The Post has learned."

And, as the Post reports this morning, Stark's improper management style was well known within the finance department: "Current and former Finance employees were elated to hear Stark is leaving. "She should've resigned many years ago because there's been a lot of stuff that she was doing that nobody's caught. She got a lot of people that she knew into positions [even though] they didn't know anything about the jobs," said a former employee."

So it's now the NY Post that is doing the due diligence for the myopic mayor? A further indication, it seems to us, that the term limits extension-once again affirmed by the courts-may be legal; but it sure ain't in the best interests of the people of this fair city.