Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Great Wal-Mart of Bloomberg

Crain's Insider, apparently looking to emulate the Onion for great satire, has an item on Bloomberg, Wal-Mart and promises unkept-the post's title is, The Bloomberg Wall: "Before last fall's election, the union representing supermarket workers endorsed Mayor Mike Bloomberg based on word from the mayor's campaign that Bloomberg would not spend political capital to bring Walmart to the city, according to the union. At the same time, Bob Lieber, then deputy mayor for economic development, was pledging to do his part to help Walmart, according to a source who heard it firsthand. The most benign conclusion that can be drawn from the discrepancy is that a thick wall separated campaign and administration operations."

Benign conclusions aside, this is all purely a case of bait and switch-and there is no wall of separation between the campaign and the mayor. Putting it charitably, how could there be for someone who believes in the principle of, l'etat, c'est moi. But relying on mayoral assurances is not a sound organizational decision-nor is similar ingenuousness when it comes to the promises of Related-just ask CM Barron.

All of which brings to mind the situation regarding the Columbia University expansion-and the allegation that its consultant AKRF was conflicted since it also represented ESDC. In its defense, AKRF claimed that there was a, "wall of separation," between the two sides of the firm that were working for the two separate clients. Judge Catterson of the Appellate Court saw right through this, pointing out that the fix was in: "But the court, and in our view got it right, saw it otherwise-and paid particular attention to the collusion between the university, its consultants and the state. As the Observer had pointed out about the court's ruling "It also was highly critical of the process of determining blight, a major component of the use of eminent domain. The state had hired the consulting firm AKRF to do both the environmental review for the project and the determination of blight. Ultimately, the ESDC brought in a second contractor to replicate the original blight study, but, as the court pointed out, this was well after the decision had been made to use eminent domain."

So much for these virtual walls. In dealing with Ross and Bloomberg (Bialystock and Bloom?), it is absolutely essential to get everything in writing-notarized, if possible. Which brings to mind Justice Hugo Black's observation about loyalty oaths, "Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest..."