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Part of the ritual of every City Council hearing is the “we’ll get back to you” response by city officials on the hot seat who are stuck for an answer. That was the steady refrain more than two months ago when the two top officials of NYC Media, the city’s TV station (yes, there is one), were grilled before the council’s technology committee back on April 15. More than two months later, council officials are still waiting for answers to questions about the station’s budget (murky) and its hiring practices (seriously opaque).
Committee chair Dan Garodnick is “disappointed,” as he said in a June 15 letter to Katherine Oliver, the ex-Bloomberg TV exec who now runs the mayor’s film assistance office as well as the TV station. Garodnick noted Oliver had pulled another much-favored tactic out of the Stonewalling for Dummies handbook when several questions “were not even acknowledged” in her written response.
Council member Jumaane Williams, who asked the toughest questions at the April hearing, took his own disappointment up several notches by holding a press conference Thursday on the City Hall steps to denounce the Mayor’s office for ignoring his questions about just how it is that people get hired at the station.
“We should be allowing the public to know where the jobs are and what the makeup of our workforce is,” said Williams who was joined by members of the council’s Black and Latino caucus.
“There have been egregious violations of the rules for posting available jobs at NYC Media,” he said. “It appears that the more melanin you have in your skin, the less likely you are to get a job.”
Williams got some heavyweight support at the small press conference from Council deputy majority leader Leroy Comrie. “It is unconscionable that NYC Media should even be in this position of refusing to answer,” said Comrie. “It’s ridiculous that they haven’t released this information.”
Chiming in were council members Debi Rose, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Robert Jackson, and Daniel Drumm.
One of the questions Bloomberg’s TV team has balked at answering are the specifics surrounding the hiring of former Bloomberg campaign aide Chris Coffey for a $114,000 media post on the same day the job was first posted. Williams, who raised questions after a Voice report in February, said the station was obliged “to do its absolute best to find candidates for the job. NYC Media didn’t even try.”