The Deputy Mayor for the Olympics

For city and glory, Dan Doctoroff seeks Olympic gold at home and abroad

It's as though he is his own public-private partnership. And it's left him in the often awkward position of pressing his Olympics goals upon people and firms that have many other issues pending with the city.

Take fundraising. Before taking office, Doctoroff, relying mostly on his contagious enthusiasm, had already raised more than $10 million for NYC2012, mainly from the city's most venerable corporate lions, like Merrill Lynch, Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Rudin family, each of which contributed $500,000. As Jay Kriegel, the former CBS executive and Lindsay-era official who now runs NYC2012's day-to-day affairs, put it, city corporate leaders saw "something extraordinarily powerful in the Olympic bid."

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The city's outsized pitch for the Olympics
photo: Robin Holland
Since Doctoroff took the reins as obin deputy mayor, with power over all of the city's economic development decisions, however, NYC2012 has raised three times that amount, more than $34 million. Kriegel says that's got less to do with Doctoroff's new clout than the fact that the city's bid has passed important milestones. New York is now in the last lap, up against Paris, London, Madrid, and Moscow for the 2012 honors with a decision by the International Olympics Committee due this July.

Kriegel said raising money is his job alone. "I do all the fundraising," Kriegel said. "It has been my sole responsibility since Dan went into government."

But exactly what role Doctoroff plays in raising funds for the bid is ambiguous, at best. Back in 2002, he obtained a ruling from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board allowing him to spend city time on NYC2012 matters. But the board pointedly told him if he wanted to engage in raising money for the group, he should contact them for "further guidance."

Oddly, Doctoroff waited more than two years to do so, only writing to the board last August. The panel responded that it was OK for both him and the mayor to fundraise for the organization, but it ordered them to file regular, biannual reports of any solicitations back with the board. It also warned that they were prohibited from soliciting prospective donors who might have any matter "currently pending or about to be pending" with the city that they, as officials, could affect—a fairly all-encompassing group for a mayor and his top deputy.

Since then, only one report has been been filed, stating that "no solicitations were made." Yet City Hall spokespersons refused to state that Doctoroff hasn't raised money for NYC2012. Instead, in a decidedly murky response to a direct question, they declared that his actions "have been and will continue to be consistent with his [Conflicts of Interest Board] rulings."

But a review of Doctoroff's City Hall appointment calendars and phone logs—obtained under a Freedom of Information request—shows that he frequently finds himself meeting and talking about city business with those who are also being asked to ante up Olympics contributions. They also show that Doctoroff, frequently with Kriegel in tow, has taken his Olympics act all over town in search of support. They have made presentations to major corporations, real estate groups, labor unions, and construction firms, all of whom constantly interact with city government on their issues.

While it's inevitable that the city's deputy mayor for economic development would want to meet and talk with executives of Gotham's biggest banks and corporations, his Olympics crusade is a complicating factor that, at least to outside appearances, muddies the waters.

On April 1, 2002, Doctoroff and Kriegel crossed the Hudson River to Jersey City to talk to top officials at American Express. The giant financial firm had been forced out of its downtown offices by the 9-11 attack, and was seeking governmental assistance in relocating. But that's not what the meeting was about, Kriegel said. The two men simply wanted to thank CEO Kenneth Chenault and Amex for its earlier contribution of $300,000 to NYC2012, he said.

"Ken and his senior team had been enormously supportive of us," said Kriegel. "We went to give them a status report and tell them what was happening. To get them to share some of the excitement of what was happening in the [Olympics] bid process."

About six weeks after the meeting, Amex was awarded $25 million from city and state agencies—a decision that would have moved across Doctoroff's desk—to help it return downtown. The funding wasn't unexpected, since both Bloomberg and Governor Pataki had made it a priority to get dislocated firms back downtown as quickly as possible. But critics noted that the firm could have shouldered the relocation costs itself. In fact, Amex told Newsday at the time that its return downtown had nothing to do with financial incentives. Once they became available, however, "we chose to participate," a spokesman told the paper.

"We considered the American Express deal the poster child of all that was wrong with the post-9-11 subsidies," said Bettina Damiani of the advocacy group Good Jobs New York.

On June 24, 2002, Doctoroff and Kriegel went to the offices of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company where they sat with CEO Robert Benmosche, as well as the head of MetLife's charitable foundation. One of the city's largest employers, the insurance firm was at the time in the process of shifting its operations from Manhattan to Queens Plaza, in Long Island City. One of the things it wanted from the city was an area-wide clean up, along with a crackdown on graffiti and vandals. But that wasn't discussed, Kriegel and MetLife officials agreed.

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