By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
Kriegel said the get-together was simply a briefing for the executives on the status of the bid. But a MetLife spokesman said it was more direct than that. "The meeting was to discuss a contribution, and to get an update on the progress of the fundraising efforts," said MetLife spokesman John Calagna. The company later gave $200,000 to NYC2012.
Eight months later, in February 2003, Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference on the steps of MetLife's new building, pledging to launch a year-long "Queens Plaza Clean-Up" program, as part of an effort to turn the area into a central business district for the city. Among those quoted in the city's press release praising the new program was MetLife senior vice president Lisa Weber, who also was listed as attending the June 2002 meeting with Doctoroff and Kriegel.
No one would argue that the cleanup, and the attempt to preserve jobs in the city, was anything but good government. But the intersection of the two events raises the question as to how Doctoroff separates one task from another when he is pitching for the Olympics and solving city problems.
Doctoroff's own logs show that he and Kriegel made at least half a dozen other visits together to the offices of major corporations in 2002 and 2003, each of which later made hefty contributions. In November 2002, the pair went to see James Cayne, the head of Bear Stearns & Company. The firm later contributed $100,000. In January 2003, they went to visit Robert Rubin, the ex-Clinton treasury secretary and top Citigroup honcho. Citigroup had been an early supporter of NYC2012, contributing $250,000 in 2001. Since then, its support has grown to more than $500,000.
The complicating factor in both visits was that the firms regularly seek to handle highly lucrative city bond deals. In Bear Stearns' case, the company was chosen last year to be a lead underwriter in the syndication of $2.77 billion to finance the new Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation which will help finance the new stadium and other development projects.
The other lead underwriters are also major NYC2012 contributors. Goldman Sachs gave $300,000 before 2002; it has given more than $700,000 since then. The other underwriter selected, J.P. Morgan, has given a total of $1 million to the Olympics effort. According to the city's press release announcing the underwriters, Doctoroff participated in the selection process.
One of the biggest potential projects in Doctoroff's Olympic vision is the expansion of the No. 7 train to the far west side. It's a key ingredient to provide access to the new stadium, as well as the residential and office towers planned in the new Hudson Yards. Not surprisingly, developers and contractors are angling for consideration. One of them is Bechtel Corporation, the huge firm that built a new $3.4 billion subway for the Athens Olympics, and is doing Boston's "Big Dig."
Bechtel's plan is to be partners with George Klein, a major Republican developer who runs the Park Tower Group. The same joint venture won designation in 1991 under the Bush I administration to build the new Foley Square federal courthouse.
Doctoroff's logs show that he sat down twice with Bechtel officials at City Hall in the spring of 2003. Along with several other major construction managers, the firm has also been interviewed as a potential "construction coordinator" for the Hudson Yards.
On June 11, 2003, a Bechtel executive left a message for Doctoroff, telling him that he'd had a series of meetings with Klein and other city officials regarding the extension of the No. 7 subway line to the far west side. He said he'd like to arrange a meeting "ASAP" with the deputy mayor.
No move has been made to hire a builder for the line yet, City Hall said. But Bechtel is keenly interested. "When they decide to issue a procurement on this we will take a good hard look at it," said Bechtel spokesman Howard Menaker.
NYC2012 officials declined to provide specific dates of contributions, other than to identify those who gave prior to Doctoroff taking office. Bechtel's contribution of more than $100,000 came in after that. "We definitely support New York's efforts to win the Olympics," said Menaker.
Klein's Park Tower Group also donated $100,000 to the Olympics bid after Doctoroff took office, although his dealings with the deputy mayor go well beyond the Bechtel joint venture. For one thing, Klein is head of the city's United Nations Development Corporation, which seeks to provide office space for the U.N. He also has control of a swath of north Brooklyn waterfront property not far from where Doctoroff wants his new Olympics aquatic center and where Klein wants to erect new residential buildingsunder new zoning pushed by City Hall.
Doctoroff's logs show that he met three times with Klein concerning the Brooklyn waterfront soon after taking office, once at Klein's Park Avenue offices. In October 2003, the logs show the two men sat down together again. The subject was listed as "Greenpoint/Williamsburg."
"We have no land involved with the Olympics," said a Klein aide, Elizabeth Counihan. "George likes to look at big infrastructure issues." As for his NYC2012 contribution, Klein, like many New Yorkers, "believes the Olympics is very important to New York," she said.