By Albert Samaha
By Darwin BondGraham
By Keegan Hamilton
By Anna Merlan
By Anna Merlan
By Tessa Stuart
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
He converted the public hearing room at City Hall into a bullpen of wide-open offices that mirrored his corporate setting, installing a Bloomberg terminal on his own desk, with access to corporate e-mail, and provided city agencies and his campaign with free access to the company's $1,590-a-month database.
Dan Doctoroff's move from deputy mayor to Bloomberg LP president last year reminded everyone of the seamless bond, if they even needed reminding: "I'm thrilled to remain part of the Bloomberg family," Doctoroff declared.
Bloomberg interviewed Doctoroff for his new job, presumably by moving their chairs together in the bullpen, where they sat only eight feet apart for six years. Ethics officials even allowed Doctoroff to temporarily take some of his key city business with him to his new bullpen at the company's elaborate Lexington Avenue headquarters. With Doctoroff's lateral move, all of the mayor's four most powerful city deputies have also worn Bloomberg LP hats, with the probability of more to come in a third term.
Joyce Purnick, the former Times reporter who has just written the first Bloomberg biography, concluded that "his identification with his company is so strong" that discussing it "animates him like no other" subject, adding that he cites "current facts and figures," though he theoretically left it eight years ago. In 2007, the Times reported that Bloomberg "talked regularly to senior executives at the firm," adding that the scope of the contacts was "at odds with the way the company and Mr. Bloomberg have frequently portrayed his role."
But over the past few years, that close role has repeatedly been illustrated:
*Insisting that he "did not get involved in the day-to-day stuff like personnel," Bloomberg wound up conceding that he'd actually recruited Bloomberg LP's communications director in a 2004 phone call. He talked to executives about the terminal sales, new markets, financial performance, and a gender discrimination suit charging that the company harassed, demoted, or fired more than 80 pregnant women who took leave.
*In 2005, when Bloomberg ran for re-election, Susan Calzone, a six-figure executive at the company with young twins, who had gone to a lawyer about filing a similar suit, ran Women for Bloomberg out of the campaign office for many months, but wasn't paid, at least not by the campaign (her first and only check appeared on the campaign filing after I wrote about her, and after Bloomberg won). Calzone was the first person Bloomberg hired in 2006 when he started his new Bloomberg Family Foundation. Spresa Sukalic, a City Hall staffer who accompanied the mayor to city events until she left to join Bloomberg LP, has been taking unsolicited grant applications for the Foundation at the company headquarters, at least while the Foundation's own offices are being built a block from the mayor's East 79th Street town house.
*Early this year, Judi DeMarco, a close confidante of Republican State Senator Joe Bruno and other GOP senators, was hired by Bloomberg LP just as the mayor was assiduously seeking the GOP ballot line for the 2009 election. (A longtime aide in the state senate, DeMarco was hired by Andrew Cuomo when he became attorney general in 2007 on Bruno's recommendation, and was given the job of lobbying Bruno. After Bruno resigned and was indicted, Cuomo laid DeMarco off.) Though she has a skimpy legal résumé in a recessionary market flooded with lawyers, she almost immediately got a job in Bloomberg's legal department. Just as immediately, she went on jury duty in the Astor case, where she has been for five months. (Stu Loeser, the mayor's press secretary, says Bloomberg had nothing to do with DeMarco's hiring at the company.)
*The Bloomberg campaign hired the son of the current Senate GOP leader, Dean Skelos, at about the same time that Bloomberg LP hired DeMarco, as well as Bruno's former top aide, Mike Avella. Jonathan Capehart, who moved from the 2001 campaign into a lucrative job at the company, later explained the lavish campaign expenditures subsidized by Bloomberg: "Basically, the culture of Bloomberg LP was transferred to the campaign."
*The Global Director of Bloomberg TV, Katherine Oliver, nicknamed "K.O." by Bloomberg, was appointed to head the city's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, and now oversees NYCTV.
*The construction company that built Bloomberg LP's headquarters, Bovis Lend Lease, became the government's favored builder, securing one hotly pursued job after another until its negligence contributed to firefighter deaths at the Deutsche Bank demolition and it became the target of an ongoing probe investigating its possible over-billing of the city.
*Structure Tone, a contractor that pled guilty to paying bribes, yet was hired by Bloomberg LP to build the office interiors at the headquarters, is now renovating the two buildings at 78th and Madison where the Family Foundation offices are under construction (with mayorally selected Italian marble bathrooms). Structure Tone recently bid on a job to renovate eight floors at the LP headquarters. The company has not sought any city work since its felony conviction. The delayed project is now set for completion, says a worker there, in November, just as Bloomberg plans to win a third term.