Who is Brad Hoylman?

Brad Hoylman

The strongest push to hobble NYC’s community boards by forcing them to hire dedicated planners and revert to a narrower “planning board” role (an idea we strongly oppose) came not from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, but from the former chairman of Manhattan Community Board 2, Brad Hoylman, who was one of five invited “experts” who spoke at the Charter Revision Commission’s June 10 session on Government Structure in Staten Island. Why the commission chose Hoylman as a featured guest became evident upon examination of his credentials.

Hoylman’s official Charter Revision Commission bio shows him only as “a senior executive and general counsel at a New York City nonprofit organization.” But a Web search reveals that the nonprofit he works for is the Partnership for New York City, the pre-eminent policy and public relations arm of New York’s big business and real estate development community and its principal advocate for a strong-mayor, weak-community form of government.

Eric Lane

Hoylman’s co-panelists also have credentials that raise serious issues about their ability to take a fresh look at City Hall’s structure: Eric Lane, who with F.A.O. Schwarz, Jr., shaped NYC’s current strong-mayor government; Gerald Benjamin, who helped Lane to do this; Doug Muzzio, a CUNY Baruch College political affairs professor who develops and delivers “cultural diversity training programs for the New York City Police Department;” and Marc V. Shaw, a member of the city and state permanent governments since 1981 who currently works for commission chair and CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein as Interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Budget, Finance and Financial Policy.

Given Lane’s and Benjamin’s charter revision commission history, and Hoylman’s, Muzzio’s, and Shaw’s current employment, it’s evident that the commission did not cast its net very far looking for dissenting views.

The panelists met expectations: Lane justified his 1989 charter revision decisions and, upon questioning, did not admit to error except to allow that certain ‘89 provisions might “need re-examination” twenty years later. But he also suggested that the 2010 commission should limit what it does this year.

Benjamin, comparing NYC with other cities, observed that “the fundamental principle in this city is that there’s no real local government,” and then gave the 2010 commission an excuse to avoid this issue by commenting that its time frame forces it to “trap the discourse” at the marginal level of deciding whether borough presidents’ budgets should be formulaic, instead of considering what their duties and powers should be.

Doug Muzzio offered a scholarly analysis of the arguments for and against continuing the offices of the public advocate and the borough presidents, eventually coming down on the “for” side, but stopped short of recommending any substantial changes in their duties and responsibilities.

Marc Shaw

Marc Shaw, looking at things from a budget bureaucrat’s perspective, came across to us as an unapologetic proponent for the city’s strong-mayor status quo.

Shaw provoked a moment of controversy when charter commission Secretary Angela Mariana Freyre queried him about whether the Conflicts of Interest Board, which rules on ethics issues, should warrant a guaranteed budget that would keep it outside of politics. With remarkable candor, Shaw responded that “the truth is that priorities change. You know that ethics is an issue this year and next year and so it becomes a hot issue. If it’s not a hot issue ten years from now, should it still have the resources that it got because there were a lot of ethical violations in one year or one decade?”

Christine Quinn

Not surprisingly, the overall agenda for the session at Staten Island Technical High School hewed to the familiar: a featured role for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a detailed presentation of the Council’s priorities by Gale  Brewer; the carefully-scripted testimony by the five invited experts; their less well-scripted responses to measured comments and questions from several commission members (we were especially impressed by the thoughtfulness of Carlo Scissura, Angela Freyre, and Father Joseph McShane); an extended discourse by Staten Island’s charter commissioner Stephen J. Fiala; and a variety of speeches by 25 elected officials and members of the public.

To his credit — and in support of the commission’s obligation to portray itself as one that listens to the public, chairman Goldstein gave every one of the 25 elected officials and members of the public who approached the microphone a full chance to speak. By 10:35, when he adjourned the meeting, only a handful of persons were visible in webcast images of the auditorium.

It wasn’t until the 14th of the 25, Staten Island resident Charles Sorrentino, came to the microphone, that we realized that our prediction that the commission would use this session to look carefully at mayoral succession had been wrong. Unless we missed something, Sorrentino was the first speaker to mention it.

Next step: the commission’s forum on public Integrity, Wednesday, June 16, at City College, 160 Convent Avenue in Manhattan at 6:00 PM. Perhaps the charter revision commission will dare to address the charter’s most glaring conflict of interest: its requirement that the Conflicts of Interest Board, which must rule on ethical issues concerning all City employees, be entirely appointed by one of the employees it is obligated to oversee, the mayor.

6 responses to “Who is Brad Hoylman?

  1. On Manhattan’s West Side we’ve been aware of Hoylman and his secret job for years. We’re also aware of the large-scale displacement of long-time residents and small business that Hoylman and The New York City Partnership — the boys’ club of landlords, developers and Bloomberg/Doctoroff Corporate Welfare — have unleashed on Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen.

    Hoylman is expected to run for Christine Quinn’s seat in 2013 and she’s expected to support him. Hoylman is a past president of GLID (Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats), so he might have some electability despite his advocating for neighborhood destruction on behalf of NYC developers. Quinn — as many know — sold out to the dark side in 2002, betraying her constituents and is a strong advocate for bad development.

    On Charter issues, the current Commission, while it lacks the circus atmosphere of Rudy’s Commission from the 1990’s, still lacks credibility. The so-called “experts” overall reflect the administration’s agenda. Marc Shaw is the permanent government, Doug Muzzio is a newspaper talking head who states nothing but the obvious, and Hoylman is point man for Related, Vornado, Durst and Ratner.

    By pushing for so-called community planning boards, Hoylman’s just reinforcing the damage done to community boards by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Community Boards used to have some degree of independence. In the last ten years, Scott Stringer has turned Manhattan Community Boards into political cronies, for example, his campaign manager. Stringer created a so-called independent committee to recommend community board appointments, but key membership in that committee is held by — you guessed it — the NYC Partnership. His Director of Land Use, just now leaving for a higher profile job with a major developer-landlord, obtained his apartment from a developer on Manhattan Community Board 4 while he was District Manager of the same Community Board. Of course tenants remain reluctant to complain to Board 4 about that same developer-landlord given the cozy relationship.

    And Stringer’s appointment to City Planning, Anna Levin, is so popular rubber-stamping obscene development that Douglas Durst, developer of the Bank of America tower on 42nd St., participated in a party for her retirement from the community board.

  2. Albert Bennett

    This doesn’t seem fair. I read Hoylman’s testimony, which is available on the CB 2 website (http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb2/downloads/pdf/testimony_charter_revision_commission6102010.pdf) and his position was decidedly pro-community board and local input. Say what you want about his employer, I guess, but the interesting thing is he seems to have taken a different position then the big real estate moguls, who want to cut the community boards out of the process! Or did you not bother to read his testimony?

  3. Albert, just reading testimony doesn’t tell you a lot about someone. You have to watch over time and see who he is really reinforcing. Right now, he’s providing cover for Christine Quinn and Scott Stringer, who is helping developers line up for the the land that was St. Vincent’s Hospital. Rather than working with the community to find a way to establish another hospital, they simply want a walk-in clinic — occupying much less space.

    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eweH4aRJa3g (not my post) and the full description underneath.

  4. Also a Westsider


    That is absolutely untrue. Hoylman, as far as I can tell, is fighting to get a new hospital on the Community Board in the Village. He negotiated a deal on the community board where St. Vincent’s would be able to build a new building, which could have saved the hospital and is helping lead the board on the new hospital facility. See the Villager newspaper: http://www.thevillager.com/villager_373/amidprotest.html

    Good grief, your video looks like he was presiding at a meeting of Tea Party activists! At least he is sticking his neck out on these important issues rather than just grandstanding.

    • Dear ”Also a Westsider,”

      How is Brad Hoylman sticking out his neck, when Mr. Hoylman isn’t yet calling for a new hospital ? While he seems to agree to setting up a meeting with a working group that is, in itself, trying to set up a hospital, the reality is that Mr. Hoylman had to be pressured by the community to make that commitment. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWuUonRSTPk (not my video).

      Also, what the community wants is a hospital, to restore the vibrant and energetic fabric of the Village community. At some point, voters and citizens do draw the line on over-development — it happened to Robert Moses and his highway, and it will happen again to Mayor Bloomberg and the Rudin family over the luxury condos that they want to build on the hollowed ground of St. Vincent’s Hospital. See http://no-third-term.blogspot.com/2010/06/circuit-breaker-power-broker.html (which is my post).

  5. To ”Also a Westsider:’

    For you to compare the liberal activists of the Lower West Side to ”a meeting of Tea Party activists” is low. By trashing these activists, who, might I point out, are advocating for a hospital on the West Side — and not another city-financed sports stadium — you are cheapening and marginalising the needs of the community.

    There is now no hospital in the area stretching from what used to be called Beekman Downtown to St. Lukes-Roosevelt on Columbus Circle. There is now no Level 1 Trauma Center below 14th Street, which is a high risk security area.

    You praise Brad Boylman, but it is so obvious that what you are doing is spinning. If Mr. Hoylman cared for the public’s health, he’d be joining Yetta Kurland to fight for a new hospital, instead of calling the cops or physically and forcefully yanking the microphone from Yetta’s hands. How he ran this meeting was with a heart as cold as Robert Moses’s.

    The spirit and inspiration of Jane Jacobs can’t be defamed, and just like the highway issue then was enough to be a turning point in this city’s history, so, too, shall this hospital issue : we are demonstrating that when citizens unite to protect the integrity of their community, they will always win.

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