Ex-Council Speaker Gifford Miller
Amid the many after-quakes following last week’s mass firings of veteran staff members at the City Council, came a query regarding the current employment status of former Speaker Gifford Miller.
A couple of weeks ago, Power Plays caught up with the former mayoral candidate to ask him precisely that question: At age 35, having already served in the city’s second most powerful post, and having lost badly in a race to obtain the most powerful position, what’s he going to do with the rest of his life?
“I don’t know yet. I am looking at different stuff: Academic, health care, real estate. I am not rushing into anything,” he said. “I have talked to almost every single person I know. I have had a lot of dinners. One of the great things about losing the mayor’s race is that I have a chance to do that.”
In fact, the question of his career plans only arose because Miller was spotted enjoying one of those long and apparently friendly meals at Campagnola’s, a popular East Side restaurant, with real estate tycoon Steve Witkoff.
Power Plays had a few lengthy and mostly unprintable conversations with Witkoff last spring when his $180,000 Mercedes coupe was spotted parked outside the Voice with an NYPD park-it-where-you wanna permit on the dashboard. As it happens, Witkoff is the landlord of the Woolworth Building where the police pension system has offices. The unit’s parking permit had somehow found its way to landlord’s auto. Asked about that circumstance, apologies were issued by all concerned, along with an assurance such an error would not happen again.
“Sure, Gifford is a friend of mine. I happen to like him,” Witkoff said when asked about the meal. Had he counseled the ex-council leader about his career? “He has talked to me about what he ought to be doing. He has talked to an enormous amount of people. I think I was almost more of a sounding board.” And what advice, if any, had he offered? “C’mon, he is my friend,” the mogul responded. “He is asking me where should he be, ‘What should I be doing?’ Would that be right to tell you what I told him?”
Definitely not. With such discretion commended, Power Plays put the same question to Miller. He also demurred, while agreeing, “absolutely” that Witkoff is a good friend. “I will tell you I like that restaurant. Particularly the steak. It’s an Italian restaurant, but exceptionally good.”