Tag Archives: Conflicts of Interest Board

Charter Revision: How to Reduce Conflicts of Interest

Patricia E. Harris

Writing in The NY Times City Room Blog, Michael Barbaro calls attention to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s announcement naming “Patricia E. Harris, the second-most powerful official at City Hall, to be the chief executive and chairwoman of the multibillion-dollar Bloomberg Family Foundation.”

Barbaro notes that “in 2008, Ms. Harris and a City Hall aide, Allison Jaffin, obtained a waiver from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board to work at the foundation while keeping her job at City Hall, arguing that her work was voluntary and involved minimal use of public resources. At the time, however, she held the title of president.”

Barbaro’s story has drawn dozens of comments from readers, most of them critical of Mayor Bloomberg’s use of his vast personal wealth to influence city policy. Continue reading

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NYC’s Forgotten Borough

To most Manhattanites, Staten Island may as well be New Jersey (geographers and Staten Islanders feel the same way). Once you step off the ferry at St. George Terminal, you’re in a different world: a revolutionary war fort, mile after mile of low-rise garden apartments, Victorian frame houses on winding streets, and wooded hillsides studded with stone and brick mansions.

New Yorkers who view Staten Island only from the S.I. Expressway and the West Shore Expressway don’t see the island’s vast industrial tracts on one shore, its beautiful public beach on another, the endless strip mall that is Hylan Boulevard, and the island’s golf courses, forests, and pre-Verrazano enclaves, which still hint at their rural origins. It just ain’t the same city as high-rise Manhattan.

That’s the message that Tom Wrobleski, political editor for the Staten Island Advance, sends to the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission. With just one Islander on the 15-member commission, Wrobelski doubts that Staten Island’s small-town distinctiveness can be adequately considered when the commission revises NYC’s government this year. To Wrobleski, the city’s rules in Manhattan and Staten Island need to be different. And many community leaders from Brooklyn and Queens feel the same way about their own boroughs. Continue reading