Friday, July 24, 2009

Fire in the Hole

When the folks voted to install Mike Bloomberg as their mayor-and did it a second time-the prevailing wisdom was that, owing to the mayor's vast fortune, the public could count on a corruption-free mayoralty. What was not taken into consideration, was the Bloomberg old boys network that gave Dan Doctoroff and the Related Companies to NYC. As a result of this, we were able to bear witness to a whole series of sweetheart no-bid deals that left the city less well off than it should have been.

We have, of course, outlined a few of these deals-most notably the gifting of the Bronx Terminal Market by Docotroff to his old friend and business associate Steve Ross. On a lesser scale, Doctoroff stabbed the Fernandez brothers in the back over the development rights to a project in Harlem on Bradhurst Avenue-subsidizing the project with an additional $5 million after the Related folks, under the Giuliani regime, had been issued two non performance letters, and were on the verge of being de-designated.

But now comes something even more egregious-and coming from our vantage point, with our bug up the butt view of the Bronx Terminal deal, this says quite a lot. It involves the mayor's culpability in the Deutsche Bank fire; and the role played by sweetheart contractor Bovis.

Wayne Barrett has outlined the shamefulness of all that has transpired-a shame that is magnified by the failure of the local press to properly tar baby the mayor on this issue: "The Voice's cover story this week, "Bloomberg's Biggest Scandal--the Deutsche Bank Fire--Should Be His Downfall" -- examined the determination of top city officials, including Bloomberg's longtime top deputy Dan Doctoroff, to ignore the risk of installing Bovis Lend Lease and its prime subcontractor Galt at the demolition site of the bank building. Doctoroff brushed aside warnings from the city's investigations department about Galt in deference to Bovis' reckless desire to hire the mob-tainted firm."

Let's not forget that two firefighters were killed as a result of the city's actions here: "Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau has indicted Galt and two of its officials in the negligent homicide case involving the death of two firefighters, Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino, at the bank site. He also charged one Bovis employee, but said he did not indict Bovis because it could have caused the collapse of a company that employs thousands."

And, as Barrett has told us, not a single paper has even bothered to call for the removal of the fire commissioner-an incompetent administrator with no fire fighting expertise, whose claim to fame involved a see no evil approach to child abuse when he was in charge of Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).

The question with all of this is why did the city promote Bovis-and who was responsible for the shilling of a failed company? As Barrett points out, Deputy Dan was in the middle of this mess as well: "At the very moment that Doctoroff and the LMDC went ahead with the Bovis contract at the bank site in 2005, the company was engaged in what city attorneys call now "repeated failures to perform in accordance" with "generally accepted professional standards" in the construction of the $275 million Bronx Hall of Justice, the 10-story courthouse that Bovis completed almost three years late. The lawsuit is still pending."

All of which underscores that the Bloomberg administration has been rife with incompetence and cronyism-and his billionaire brothers in the press have been covering for him. We have been particularly curious about why the Post's Murdoch has been such a mayoral toady-after all, the paper has an ideological view of the world that's diametrically opposed to the one espoused by the Nanny mayor.

In response to our query on this, Barrett referred us to his magnum opus of last year on Bloomberg: "In 2007, Bloomberg L.P. decided, apparently after some consideration, not to compete with Murdoch for The Wall Street Journal. Murdoch similarly decided this July not to compete with Bloomberg when he paid $4.5 billion to buy Merrill Lynch's 20 percent interest in Bloomberg L.P. In this walled-off billionaire playground, it's impossible to tell if any of these third-term mogul endorsements spring in part from a business motive."

Bloomberg's purchase of the Wall Street Journal would have given him a virtual monopoly over the financial news in this country-and would have been a great business move. His demurral in going after the WSJ was a god send to Murdoch; and saved him millions from having to match a competitive bid in the process. Gratitude can take many forms.

So we are left to blog flogging Bloomberg in the absence of any real credible journalistic accountability. After all, if the Post can obsessively call for mayoral control on a daily basis, how about banging away at the incompetence of Scoppetta-and the man who refuses to fire him? And while they're at it, let's see if the investigation of the Bloomberg/Bovis nexus is picked up by the intrepid NY Times investigating unit.

Don't hold your breathe. We have a one party town in NYC-and it ain't the Democratic Party that's in charge, it's the Plutocrats; and in the process, vital information necessary for an informed citizenry is being actively suppressed.