Monday, February 24, 2014

de Blasio Transparency, FOILS and Special City Agent Lobbyists Emails That are Still Secret 562

Agent of the City Lobbyists Berlin Rosen Under Fed Investigation for Using Campaign for 1NY to Launder Senate Campaign Funds in 2014 is Working For Senate Campaigns Again Funded by Airbnb

De Blasio not involved in state Senate races, but firm of 'agent of thecity' is  (NYDN) Here is an expanded version of the second item from my "Albany Insider" column from Monday's editions: Mayor de Blasio has said he is not getting involved in this year’s state Senate elections, but the firm of one of his “agents of the city” is. A Super PAC created by Airbnb has so far paid BerlinRosen, whose co-founder is de Blasio confidante Jonathan Rosen, nearly $1 million for ads and mailers opposing Sen. Sue Serino (R-Dutchess County) and supporting Sen. George Latimer (D-Westchester) and James Gaughran, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Nassau County).  Here is an expanded version of the second item from my "Albany Insider" column from Monday's editions: Mayor de Blasio has said he is not getting involved in this year’s state Senate elections, but the firm of one of his “agents of the city” is. A Super PAC created by Airbnb has so far paid BerlinRosen, whose co-founder is de Blasio confidante Jonathan Rosen, nearly $1 million for ads and mailers opposing Sen. Sue Serino (R-Dutchess County) and supporting Sen. George Latimer (D-Westchester) and James Gaughran, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Nassau County).

Big Money Covers Their Bet On Both Sides in the Fight to Control the State Senate
Some companies, unions and trade groups are hedging their bets ahead of the Nov. 8 election that will determine which party controls the state Senate and contributing large amounts across Democratic and GOP lines, The Buffalo News reports. Tycoons pump $13Minto super PACs to shape New York State legislative races (NYDN) A group of 17 wealthy donors has poured more than $13.4 million into four GOP-leaning super PACs in a bid to influence this year’s state legislative races, a new report claims. The report from the activist group Hedge Clippers showed that the bulk of the money - about $10.6 million - went to New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, a super PAC created by the pro-charter school group StudentsFirstNY. Three other education reform PACs were also recipients of donations from the group of 17, the report found. Hedge Clippers’ report comes as a super PAC created by the state teacher’s union, Fund For Great Public Schools, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few weeks to boost Democratic efforts to take control of the state Senate.

Team de Blasio Has Not Disclosed Their Meeting With Lobbyists
De Blasio still struggling to disclose meetings with lobbyists (NYP) Blasio still hasn’t fulfilled two promises he made about lobbyists — including one made more than three years ago.  When he was running for City Hall in 2013, the mayor said all lobbyists’ meetings with members of his administration would be posted on the city’s Web site.  While de Blasio discloses on the site his own meetings with lobbyists, there’s no indication of the interactions between the lobbyists and his top aides.  Three years after the mayor made the pledge, a spokesman said he’s still working to fulfill it. The mayor also hasn’t issued a list of people who donated to his campaigns and nonprofits and got nothing from the city.  In May, he said that list would be handed over to reporters “in the coming weeks” to prove that donations didn’t influence policy decisions in his administration.
The Interlocking-Directorates of CM Levin, Lobbyists Berlin Rosen and the Sale of a library That the Community Did Not Want Sold 

de Blasio Caught Red Handed in Agent of the City and Campaign of One NY Corruption Says No More Agents in the Future But Past Emails Still Secret 

De Blasio Ends Challenge to Disclosing Emails From ‘Agentsof the City’ (NYT) For years, they operated with presumed immunity from public disclosure laws — longtime friends and advisers to Mayor Bill de Blasio who took no public salary yet enjoyed a direct line to City Hall’s corridors of power. But now the advisers, known as agents of the city, have effectively been asked to turn in their badges. In an about-face, the de Blasio administration announced Monday that starting immediately, city lawyers and officials would no longer challenge the disclosure of new emails between his administration and a handful of unpaid outside advisers who were designated as city agents. “They will be de-deputized,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s top spokesman, said Monday. But the change, he said, would apply only to future emails with those advisers and not to the past communications that are the subject of a continuing court battle with two news organizations, NY1 and The New York Post, seeking their disclosure. The turnabout was unexpected. As recently as last week, Mr. de Blasio, in an interview on NY1, vigorously defended the practice of withholding emails with the advisers — some of whom also represent clients with business before the city — on the grounds that their advice was akin to that from the kitchen cabinets of countless public leaders. “Everything was first discussed with City Hall lawyers,” the mayor said last week in his weekly appearance on the NY1 program “Inside City Hall.”

“There are people who are longstanding friends and colleagues and advisers — I’m not going to ask them to stop being friends and advisers because they happen to have clients.” But Mr. de Blasio, speaking Monday evening on the same program, said that while City Hall had “handled things appropriately,” he had decided there would be “new ground rules now.” “Before, we had ground rules from our counsel’s office saying this is confidential,” Mr. de Blasio said. Now, he said, the rule would be to disclose communications. “So choose your words wisely and act accordingly,” he said, as if speaking to the advisers. Mr. Phillips said the administration had not abandoned its legal stance that outside advisers, and their staffs, could be treated the same as city employees when it came to the state’s Freedom of Information Law. But he said Mr. de Blasio determined recently that the issue had become “an unneeded distraction from real accomplishments that we don’t want to be overshadowed.” He said the advisers — including the original five: Jonathan Rosen, of the public relations firmBerlinRosen; Bill Hyers and Nicholas Baldick, of the political consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions; John Del Cecato, a speechwriter at AKPD Message and Media; and Patrick H. Gaspard, the United States ambassador to South Africa and Mr. de Blasio’s close personal friend — had communicated with the mayor on the promise of confidentiality in the past, so those previous communications would remain shielded. Many had roles in Mr. de Blasio’s political nonprofit group, the Campaign for One New York, which took donations from many with business before the city and which figures in the state and federal investigations into the de Blasio administration. Any future communications they have with the city will be treated like any other communication between the city and a member of the public. The issue returned to headlines the day before Thanksgiving when the de Blasio administration released more than 1,500 pages of emails in response to a public records request. Most of the emails pertained to Mr. Rosen and were limited to discussions about clients; none of his emails with Mr. de Blasio or other city employees about policy were released. Communication within and between city agencies are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law under a provision aimed at fostering internal discussions without fear that they might become public. The de Blasio administration’s application of that idea to outside advisers with no formal connection to the city attracted scrutiny in May after the mayor’s counsel at the time, Maya Wiley, referred to them in a news conference as “agents of the city.” As for the court proceeding over the old emails, the administration said it would not change its approach.

The Heavily Redacted de Blasio Email Release is Covering Up Special Agent Pay to Play 
Will A Judges Impose Transparency on the Transparency Mayor? Ask Bloomberg?
Bill de Blasio’s secret agents: New emails are troubling not because ofwhat they reveal, but because of what they conceal (NYDN Ed) Gawk at but don’t be distracted by the Thanksgiving-eve unveiling of hundreds of emails between City Hall staff and mayoral media guru Jonathan Rosen and associates: The deeper story here is the ocean of communiques the public still isn’t seeing, and must. Attorneys for Mayor de Blasio are fighting a lawsuit seeking public release of emails to and from Rosen and four other unpaid outside advisers to the mayor, by wielding the absurdist fiction that the men are “agents of the city.” Invoking the magic words, they hope to convince Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis that de Blasio is entitled to classify an unknown number of messages as internal government deliberations that he has no duty to release under state Freedom of Information Law. And so City Hall has shared only the most banal correspondence, mostly tedious email chains attempting to schedule meetings between the mayor’s people and Rosen’s. To read between the lines is to perceive the troubling implications of the mayor’s suppressing substantive discussions between himself, his aides, and communications consultant Rosen; political consultants Bill Hyers and Nicholas Baldick; message-meister John Del Cecato, and U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard. Last month, de Blasio also threw the “agents” cloak over campaign organizer Josh Gold. All except Gaspard masterminded de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York, under investigation by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the possibility City Hall dispensed favors to its donors.    First, wince at the spectacle of Campaign for One New York fundraiser Ross Offinger emailing Rosen and top de Blasio deputies Tony Shorris and Emma Wolfe a list of real estate developers “I am shooting for” — including Rosen clients who had big projects awaiting city approvals, Jed Walentas, Bruce Ratner and Stephen Green. Then contemplate other messages indicating Rosen was scheduled to join an August 2014 meeting with city officials about de Blasio’s housing program, poised to unleash vast new development opportunities, as it gelled . Were Rosen a city employee, no way would city ethics rules allow him to moonlight for companies seeking actions from City Hall.

If Bloomberg's Cathie Black Was Ruled By A Judge Not To Be An Agent of the City How is Berlin Rosen de Blasio Agent? 

Not an employee, not an agent, not a nothing — any more than Cathie Black was an “agent of the city” when Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s lawyers made that claim in a failed attempt to suppress emails related to frenzied efforts to install her as schools chancellor.  “Wholly devoid of merit,” a judge deemed the “agents” claim in ordering the Black emails’ release.  Lobis has no reason to rule differently. De Blasio should spare the city its mounting legal costs defending the preposterous — and release the damn emails already.

Yesterday Will the Press and Public Accept Any Bull Shit Out of the Mayor's Mouth? Or is Their Real Mission to Reelect Elect Him for the Developers?
The Next Day the Post and Daily News Both Do Editorials That Demand the Mayor Release All the Agent of the City Emails . . . Nothing in the NY Times  
De Blasio’s surprise ‘concession’ on city agents is meaningless (NYP) De Blasio’s unwillingness to open up past communications with so-called agents of the city renders his surprise concession to make future communications public meaningless, given that the consultants and lobbyists are now warned not to leave any future record of double-dealing,the Post writes.

Bill’s sleight of hand: Drop the 'agents of the city'card, pronto (NYDN Ed) And just like that, as if the wizard of City Hall cast a magic spell lifting a charm,Bill de Blasio’s “agents of the city” vanished as absurdly as they had arrived — as a contrivance of a mayor scared of transparency as criminal investigations into his political operation swirled. For months, the mayor’s lawyers have been stonewalling reporters who seek nothing more than release of official emails to and from five of de Blasio’s outside advisers, documents that unquestionably belong in the public domain. Except, abracadabra, de Blasio back in May designated the men as city “agents” for purposes of shielding their exchanges as internal government deliberations. Presto-chango, de Blasio reversed course on Monday, telling NY1 that all communications with the five “will be disclosable going forward.” Why? “It’s obviously become a distraction.” To translate: The mayor is dropping the legal label as quickly as he applied it not to defend any principle, not in acknowledgment that he has anything to hide, but because he would rather not have a neverending public relations headache heading into an election year. If only: The reversal in fact injures de Blasio’s weak case in court that the advisers — four of them the brain trust behind his Campaign for One New Yorkshop — deserve special privileges as quasi-government employees. Give it up, mayor. Give up every last email and this increasingly ridiculous, untenable fight.

Tueday - De Blasio to release ‘Agents of the City’ emails — with a catch (NYP) Mayor de Blasio on Monday said he’ll no longer shield the emails of five private advisers who were dubbed “Agents of the City” from public disclosure — but only going forward. The mayor said he’s still going to fight to keep secret their prior communications with his office — which are the target of a lawsuit by The Post and NY1.  Hizzoner said he made the decision to change the ground rules because the issue had become too much of a “distraction.”  “Advice on a government-related matter, that will be disclosable going forward in the event of a FOIL request,” Hizzoner told NY1 news anchor Errol Louis, referring to a Freedom of Information Law request. “I think that’s the smart way to handle it from this point on to say, look, OK, new ground rules now.”  The lawsuit filed by the two media organizations seeks the release of past emails between the Mayor’s Office and one of the five advisers – Jonathan Rosen, co-founder of the public relations firm BerlinRosen. The group helped run de Blasio’s 2013 campaign and his shuttering non-profit, the Campaign for One New York — at the same time as it represents clients with business interests before the city. The mayor said the city’s defense against the lawsuit would continue because “the past is different.” He also acknowledged his move would censor the content of what his outside advisers would be willing to put in writing down the road. “I think it stands to reason that if you wanted to say something to me and you knew it was going to be published, you’re going to say it likely in a very different manner,” he said on NY1

Campaign for 1NY Pac Campaign Manager Gold Also A Secret Agent of No Transparency de Blasio
City Hall emails with former de Blasio nonprofit boss Josh Gold beingkept from public (NYDN) Mayor de Blasio’s “agents of the city” aren’t the only private consultants with business before City Hall whose correspondence is being shielded. As part of the court battle to keep the “agents” emails from the public, lawyers for the city revealed they are also keeping secret correspondence between City Hall staffers and “independent consultant” Josh Gold. Gold was the campaign manager for the mayor’s now-defunct Campaign for One New York, a political non-profit which raised millions of dollars outside the campaign finance system for de Blasio’s pet causes. In court papers, city lawyers say they are withholding Gold’s emails on Campaign for One New York because the nonprofit was a “partner” with the administration, and therefore protected under statutes that say inter-agency correspondence is private. At the time, Gold also worked with the Hotel Trades Council union, which was pushing the city to limit illegal hotels. A spokesman for the mayor said emails Gold sent on topics other than the non-profit would be released in a Freedom of Information request, unlike the “agents of the city.” De Blasio’s lawyers have dubbed five of his private sector pals “agents of the city,” and say their emails are exempt from laws that require them to be disclosed because they should be allowed to give him confidential advice. Several media outlets are suing for the emails to be released. The city’s lawyers in the court papers also say they would allow the court to review the agent emails to show they’re not hiding anything.* Josh Gold was the campaign manager for the mayor’s now-defunct Campaign for One New York, a political non-profit which raised millions of dollars outside the campaign finance system for de Blasio’s pet causes. And the New York Hotel Trades Council,  Office of the NYC Comptroller,  New York Hotel Trades Council,  Political & Issue Campaign Consultant, NY Progress Independent Expenditure for Bill de Blasio, Director, 2013, Scott Stringer for NYC Comptroller, Advisor, 2013, Grace Meng for Congress, Senior Staff, 2012, Eric Shneiderman for NYS Attorney General, Senior Staff, 2010, John Liu for NYC Comptroller, Senior Staff, 2009 Josh Gold Also Works for Uber

de Blasio 'Special Agent' Returning Home from South Africa
De Blasio’s buddy leaves State Department to return to NYC (NYP) One of Mayor de Blasio’s “agents of the city” is returning home. U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, 49, is leaving the State Department to take a newly created position with Open Society Foundation, a pro-democracy group founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the charity announced Friday. A longtime political operative who served as President Obama’s White House political director, Gaspard helped de Blasio win a crowded mayoral primary in 2013 without taking a campaign salary. He never worked in the de Blasio administration but offered advice from Johannesburg, while serving as US ambassador.

Court Rules that de Blasio's Campaign for One NY Must Comply with JCOPE Ethics Panel
De Blasio’s Nonprofit Must Comply With Ethics Panel’s Subpoena, Judge Says (NYT) A judge in Albany has ordered Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political nonprofit to comply with a subpoena from a state ethics panel, putting a damper on the mayor’s widening effort to prevent the disclosure of certain communications that he deems privileged. The decision by Justice Denise A. Hartman of State Supreme Court involved an investigation by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics into whether the nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, violated state regulations byfailing to register in 2015 as a lobbyist. The two parties argued their positions in court in July, the first public court battle to emerge from various state and federal investigations into the mayor’s fund-raising and political activities, The ruling, issued last week but not received by the parties until Monday, comes as Mr. de Blasio is also fighting in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to keep emails and text messages between City Hall  and a small number of outside advisers — some of whom played central roles in the political nonprofit before it closed down this year — from being disclosed to reporters. * Judge orders de Blasio nonprofit to turn over subpoenaed records (NYP)  The nonprofit, which had taken in more than $4.4 million since January 2014 to promote the mayor’s agenda, had refused to fully comply with two subpoenas issued by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics seeking documents, claiming the panel was embarking on a fishing expedition. But Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman wrote Thursday, “The record before the court does not indicate that the challenged subpoenas constitute harassment or impermissible ‘fishing.’”The ruling means CONY, which disbanded in March, must hand over reams of documents and communications — including those between it and de Blasio — between 2014 to 2016. CONY lawyer Laurence Laufer said he was reviewing the decision. He continued to maintain that JCOPE — which has some members appointed by Gov. Cuomo, a de Blasio enemy — was engaged in a “politicized” probe. The mayor said that the administration disagrees with the judge’s decision and “we’re exploring appellate options at this point.”
de Blasio Transparency, FOILS and Special Agent Lobbyists

Transparency Bill Even Losing His Friends Brian and the Times
De Blasio Faces Mounting Pressure on Matters ofTransparency (NYT) For about 10 minutes, the WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer hit Mr. de Blasio with a barrage of questions about secrecy and transparency, pressing him on his stance on police disciplinary records and his refusal to divulge certain emails and texts with outside advisers. The questions came after a lawsuit filed by organizations challenging the de Blasio administration over its denial of access to those communications. The radio exchange and the lawsuit, filed in state court on Wednesday, marked the boiling over of months of simmering tension for the mayor, a Democrat who championed transparency and police accountability as a candidate and now finds himself accused of failing to deliver on his promises. Exhibit A for critics is New York City’s Law Department, which is fighting multiple court battles to maintain the secrecy of city records of officers’ past misconduct and that of Mr. de Blasio’s own communications with outside advisers. The questions came after a lawsuit filed by organizations challenging the de Blasio administration over its denial of access to those communications. The radio exchange and the lawsuit, filed in state court on Wednesday, marked the boiling over of months of simmering tension for the mayor, a Democrat who championed transparency and police accountability as a candidate and now finds himself accused of failing to deliver on his promises. Exhibit A for critics is New York City’s Law Department, which is fighting multiple court battles to maintain the secrecy of city records of officers’ past misconduct and that of Mr. de Blasio’s own communications with outside advisers. “On the police records, I have a clear position that I want to see the state law changed and I want us to be able to release those records,” Mr. de Blasio told Mr. Lehrer, referring to a 1976 state law that protects police personnel records.   

Most of de Blasio and His Special Agent Shadow Govt Lobbyists Emails Still Being Kept Secret
Mayor's OfficeReleases Hundreds of Pages of Emails Between de Blasio and 'Agents of the City' (NY1)  Mayor Bill de Blasio's office has released hundreds of pages of emails between the mayor, his top aides and key unofficial advisers that he famously declared to be "Agents of the City" in response to a lawsuit launched by NY1. City Hall has been protective of the mayor's relationship with outside advisers and has refused to turn over emails he's exchanged with them, despite the fact communications between the mayor and anyone outside his administration are supposed to be made public. NY1 and the New York Post sued the mayor back in September over his refusal to release his emails with one of those outside advisers, Jonathan Rosen. Rosen was a key advisor on the mayor's campaign in 2013 and continued to advise him even though he did not join the administration. Rosen runs a powerful consulting firm, representing many clients with business before the city, including major real estate firms.  City Hall has not turned over all the emails we are seeking, but an aide to the mayor says these emails released Wednesday include any correspondence in which a client of Rosen's is mentioned. They previously turned over emails in which Rosen was writing on behalf of a client.  Even in releasing these notes, the city is still being far from transparent. In many cases, the body of an email from the mayor or from Rosen is redacted completely, so the public has no real sense of what was being discussed.  Government watchdog groups and public records officials have blasted the mayor's refusal to disclose all his emails with Rosen. They say the mayor's relationship with a top consultant, who is actually considered a lobbyist under new state rules, raises serious questions about potential conflicts of interest at City Hall.  City lawyers have argued that Rosen's emails with de Blasio should be exempt from public records request because the city says that when he is advising the mayor he is acting as an agent of the city. NY1's lawyers obviously feel differently, and that is why we are pursuing this matter in court. Wednesday afternoon's release primarily covers emails between city officials and Jonathan Rosen of BerlinRosen, who worked on de Blasio's 2013 mayoral campaign and is advising his re-election bid. Rosen was named one of the "agents of the city," an unusual designation the mayor's team announced during a press conference in the spring.

de Blasio and Campaign for One NY Joined at the Hip for A Political Mission Create A Lobbyist Shadow Govt

The questions include whether the group was simply working as an arm of his campaign and whether giving money to it may have been a way for those with business before the city — or those seeking such business — to curry favor with him without being subject to campaign-finance limits. (The group initially declined to release its donors’ names but ultimately did so in response to criticism.) The nature of that relationship seemed even murkier after the Albany judge’s ruling, when Mr. de Blasio’s response seemed to tacitly acknowledge that there was little separation between the nonprofit and him and his administration. When asked why the nonprofit had refused to comply with the subpoena, Mr. de Blasio said, “We disagree with judge’s final judgment, and so we’re exploring appellate options at this point.”

The mayor's attorneys have deemed five of the consultants "agents of the city," and are arguing their correspondence is protected under an exemption that exists for certain emails between city employees
They are a fraction of the emails between the mayor and his “agents,” who don’t work for the government but his lawyers claim should be exempt from being made public because they are his top strategists.  Many of the released emails were heavily redacted.  Despite dumping 1,500 pages of Rosen’s correspondence, City Hall is withholding some that it claims are privileged because Rosen has been designed as one of five “agents of the city” entitled to offer private “deliberative” advice. But not present, except in brief snippets, is the voice of Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat. His emails, often marked simply as “B,” are largely redacted. So, too, are some from his closest outside advisers who city lawyers have said are city “agents,” a group that includes Mr. Rosen; Bill Hyers and Nicholas Baldick of Hilltop Public Solutions, a political consulting firm; John Del Cecato, a speechwriter at AKPD Message and Media; and Patrick Gaspard, the United States ambassador to South Africa and a longtime friend of Mr. de Blasio. The city argues, in court and in its response to Freedom of Information requests, that the designation also applies to dozens of others who work for their firms. (The bulk of the emails released on Wednesday were connected to Mr. Rosen.)  Correspondence is at the heart of a fight between reporters and the de Blasio administration, which maintains that the emails with outside advisers are in effect the same as those within a city agency, and are therefore exempt from public disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. A court case begun by The New York Post and NY1 seeking to unveil those emails is pending.  “We’ve carefully re-reviewed all of the documents and have expanded our disclosure to make sure that we haven’t missed anything,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, said in an email. Mr. Phillips said that the redactions were determined by the city’s Law Department and covered only those portions of the emails containing private information, like cellphone numbers or email addresses, or “inter/intra-agency deliberative content,” a category that includes “deliberative commentary” on news articles.
View the Emails That Were Released

The Emails Show Real Estate Funding Raising List and How the Mayor's Office Raised $$$ for the Campaign for One NY
Lawsuit forcesMayor de Blasio to release ‘agents of the city’ emails that he fought to keepprivate (NYDN)   Mayor de Blasio released hundreds of emails Wednesday from the people he’s dubbed “agents of the city,” which show his top City Hall aides coordinating closely with his fund-raiser.  In one email, from a batch he had been fighting to keep private, fund-raiser Ross Offinger wrote to the mayor’s aides with what he called a “real estate wish list.” It contained the names of de Blasio donors, some of whom had business before the city.  Offinger’s work for de Blasio is being probed by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office for possible criminality.  “Here’s who I’m shooting for," Offinger wrote in a Jan. 21 2014 email that included First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe.

Not One Elected Officials Has Demanded That de Blasio Release Lobbyists "Agents of the City" Emails
Get the message, Bill? 'Agents of the city' emails must go public (NYDN) Mayor de Blasio can call his email buddies friends, he can call them advisers, he can call them Ishmael — but “agents of the city” exempt from public revelation of their correspondence, he can’t. So concludes Bob Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government and New York’s top authority on the Freedom of Information Law. Responding to a request for his opinion from lawyer Norman Siegel on behalf of the Village Voice, Freeman wrote Wednesday that de Blasio cannot “deny access to the communications” by claiming that unpaid outside advisers are the equivalent of City Hall aides. De Blasio’s former counsel concocted the “agents” fiction to block disclosure of emails to and from political consultants enmeshed in investigations of the mayor’s fundraising maneuvers. Which is why agents, going by the letters F-B-I, are rifling through City Hall emails and much more.

The Most Transparent Mayor In History Is In Court Blocking Release Of His Involvement With His Shadow Govt Lobbyists
DeBlasio leaves a lobbyist-meeting disclosure pledge unfulfilled(PoliticoNY) Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that   he had sharply curtailed his meeting with lobbyists until the multiple investigations involving him and his administration have concluded, but that doesn’t mean the business of lobbying is grinding to a halt at City Hall.  While de Blasio has proactively published on the city's website a list of the meetings he has had with lobbyists since he took office in January 2014, he has never followed through on a campaign pledge he made in 2013 to disclose meetings between lobbyists and the rest of his administration — the deputy mayors, dozens of commissioners and senior policy advisers who craft and shape city policy.  A de Blasio spokeswoman told POLITICO New York in March that the mayor still believed in his 2013 pledge to require “city officials in executive agencies [to] publicly disclose meetings with registered lobbyists on a monthly basis,” but that there was no timeline for the pledge to be fulfilled. 

"The Mayor’s position is that lobbyist meetings with officials at city agencies should be reported," former de Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton told POLITICO New York at the time. "The administration is discussing changes to require lobbyists to report meetings with city officials, in addition to other ways to improve reporting, such as encouraging more frequent reporting and more details about subject matter."  Meetings with officials at various city agencies represented the biggest portion of the city's $86 million in lobbying expenditures last year, according to an annual lobbying report published by the City Clerk’s office. Just 7 percent of lobbying in 2015 was directed toward the Office of the Mayor, while the most — 32 percent — was directed at city agenciesaccording to the report. The volume of lobbying has expanded rapidly since de Blasio took office, increasing 37 percent over the past two years, from $62.7 million in 2013 to a record-breaking $86 million in 2015. The number of clients lobbying City Hall has grown by 32 percent between 2013 and 2015, from 1,291 clients to 1,705 last year. A recent Freedom of Information Law request by POLITICO New York and other news outlets for correspondence between employees of the city’s highest-earning lobbying firm, James Capalino and Associates, and city government officials turned up roughly 5,800 pages of emails exchanged over a 16-month period. 

Only a handful were sent directly by the mayor. During the period covered by the FOIL request — January 2014 through April 2015 — Capalino’s lobbyists corresponded with 139 different city government employees, including each of the deputy mayors in office at that time — First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery and former Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli.  The emails evince an often informal, warm relationship between Capalino’s firm and the administration. There are missives that are written in shorthand and include occasional emojis, requests by lobbyists for administration officials’ personal cell phone numbers and congratulatory notes about personal news, birthdays and vacations. Dinners and lunches were also planned. Capalino and his firm’s lobbyists also corresponded directly with commissioners and department heads, including Dan Zarilli, the mayor’s senior director of climate policy and programs who also oversees the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the City’s OneNYC program; sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia; Taxi and Limousine commissioner Meera Joshi; Department of Veterans' Services commissioner Loree Sutton; former Office to Combat Domestic Violence commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis; Community Affairs Unit commissioner Marco Carrion; Office of Intergovernmental Affairs director Emma Wolfe; and Gabrielle Fialkoff, head of the Mayor's Office of Strategic Partnerships; and Darren Bloch, director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Without the disclosure of meetings department heads and city commissioners have had with lobbyists, there is little information available to the public about when and why they are happening. Department heads and commissioners don’t publish as many daily public schedules as the mayor does, for understandable reasons. Still, getting those schedules, which are required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, is difficult. The unfulfilled pledge forms a contrast between the mayor’s administration, which de Blasio promised would be the “most transparent” in the city’s history, and that of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

NY1 and Post Go After de Blasio Secret Agent Lobbyists Berlin Rosen at Last the Times See Nothing 
NY1 and the Post filed a joint lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio over the city's refusal to release correspondence between the mayor and Jonathan Rosen, one of five “agents of the city” who the administration has shielded from public disclosure, Politico New York writes. De Blasio Faces Mounting Pressure on Matters of Transparency (NYT)

de Blasio Secret Agent Lobbyists Berlin Rosen Bags $10,000
Firms hired by de Blasio earned at least $10M from campaign and non-profits (NYP) It pays to be an “agent of the city.”   The political-consulting firms that helped Mayor de Blasio get elected in 2013 have hauled in at least $10.6 million from the mayor’s campaigns and charities over the past six years, a Post analysis of public records shows.  BerlinRosen, which was co-founded by p.r. gurus Valerie Berlin and Jonathan Rosen in 2005, has expanded from five employees in 2007 to more than 100 today.  The firm hooked up with de Blasio for his long-shot 2013 mayoral bid — and it apparently paid off.  De Blasio’s campaign paid the firm $309,200 in consulting fees and to mail fliers to voters’ homes for his 2013 and 2017 mayoral bids, state campaign filings show.
And his Campaign for One New York charity paid BerlinRosen $530,413 to promote his universal pre-K and housing initiatives since 2014, the charity’s records show. The progressive p.r. firm has billed political candidates a total of $13.4 million since 2009, according to state campaign filings.
Federal and city investigators subpoenaed BerlinRosen for records regarding CONY expenses and coordinating with City Hall and Democratic candidates in the 2014 election cycle. Rosen told The Post he is “proud of our growth over the past 11 years into one of the country’s leading public relations, digital strategy and political consulting firms.” De Blasio has refused to release his e-mail communications with Rosen and other advisers, including AKPD media consultant John Del Cecato, and Hilltop Public Solutions political strategists Nicholas Baldick and Bill Hyers, naming them “agents of the city.” Those “agents” have also done well in recent years. Hilltop Public Solutions, a veritable revolving door of former de Blasio staffers, has taken $588,068 from the mayor’s campaign and another $362,732 from his nonprofit. And AKPD, which wrote an ad featuring de Blasio’s son, Dante, that helped the mayor win the primary, billed the mayor $7,603,765 for media buys and
his nonprofit another $1,346,420.

Mayor Transparency: de Blasio's Secret Meetings With the Lobbyists Shadow Govt 
An analysis of hundreds of pages of de Blasio’s personal schedules shows dozens of meetings and conference calls with lobbyists were not included on a list of lobbying meetings posted on the city website
The lobbyist meetings Bill de Blasio didn’t want you to hear about (NYP) As a candidate in 2013, de Blasio vowed to not only reveal all his meetings with lobbyists, but also to post the facts on the mayor’s official Web site. He’s done no such thing, as Rich Calder reports in Tuesday’s Post. Calder’s analysis of hundreds of pages of de Blasio’s schedule — released only under a Freedom of Information Law request — shows many meetings with powerful lobbyists that never made it on to the Web site. Visits with people like real-estate mogul Steve Nislick and businesswoman Wendy Neu, huge de Blasio donors and prime movers in the drive to kill the horse-carriage industry. And with Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten, whose teachers unions donated $350,000 to the mayor’s nonprofit slush fund after they got a private sitdown. Plus Hotel Trades Council head Peter Ward, who successfully lobbied de Blasio to crack down on illegal-hotel listings on Airbnb. And who, as public advocate, issued “transparency report cards” flunking many agencies. Of course, even in that position he was meeting secretly with lobbyists, hitting them up for campaign cash. Those same “report cards” also demanded then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg “oversee and report on FOIL compliance,” including publishing response statistics and fining city agencies that “regularly duck and delay” freedom-of-information requests. Hah! As we noted Monday, de Blasio’s own City Hall team is yanking even routine FOIL requests from the agencies — and then slow-walking them. And the Associated Press had to FOIL to even get those numbers. Bill de Blasio, it seems, thinks everyone in government should be open — except him. The Post writesthat de Blasio has quietly abandoned a sanctimonious campaign promise to disclose all his meetings with lobbyists on the city website and “thinks everyone in government should be open - except him:”

Union Leader, Pal of de Blasio, Forced to Sue his Friend for Hidden Public Records
ATU president Larry Hanley filed a lawsuit against Bill for hiding nearly 500 emails involving the illegality of bypassing the Franchise Review Board when he signed off on a Bloomberg last minute deal in giving Academy Bus $20 million to run express buses to and from Staten Island. No bid... everything was done in two weeks by Bloomberg. Deblasio's factotums redacted every word of every email ... I have never seen such wholesale redacting..... and told the union they were exempt from FOIL.  Hanley told the mayor at Gracie Mansion about the cover up who said "that shouldn't have happened" but did nothing to release the files.  Hanley also told deblasio he was suing him. So, instead of calling a press conference denouncing the mayor, or asking the Department of Investigations to probe the possible criminality, the patronage conflicted Hanley spent his members money to sue his close friend! Amazing but true. - Jim Callaghan

de Blasio's Secret Most Transparent Administration in History  
FOILed again — De Blasio’s freedom-of-information follies (NYP Ed) Bill de Blasio promised to have the “most transparent administration” in city history — then adopted policies that are slow-walking even minor Freedom of Information Law requests. Ironically, the Associated Press had to file a FOIL request just get the facts on City Hall’s foiling of FOIL requests. The background: Last May, the mayor’s lawyers told agencies they would take over any FOIL queries whose “level of attention, sensitivity, or controversy could result in questions for City Hall.” By last fall, it was already plain that this was delaying the release of information. So the AP asked City Hall for info on the first four months of FOIL filings sent to the central office — then had to make its own FOIL request to get answers. Turns out many of the requests that “had” to be routed through top lawyers were just plain trivial — like a Queens man’s request for five-decade-old records of his late city-employee granddad. And others haven’t been answered after months, from a query for e-mails between Chelsea Clinton and Department of Education officials to a retired schoolteacher’s request for info on the mayor’s July sitdown with union officials at a Brooklyn school. The AP request uncovered records on 54 FOIL cases, at least five of which were still unresolved. And when City Hall did cough up answers, it still took more than six months on average to do so. The failure to respond within 20 business days — if only with a “we need more time” notice — violates the FOIL laws. Even with notice, the stonewalling flies in the face of the spirit of the Freedom of Information Law.
de Blasio Transparency, FOILS and Controlling the Press

Progressive Mayor Controls Media and Information Delivers Transparent Times Square
De Blasio reviewing public records requests for all NYC agencies in bid to control information: report (NYDN) Mayor de Blasio, who promised to run the most transparent administration in city history, has taken steps to have his office review any public records request of any city agency that could "reflect directly on the mayor." That broad mandate, outlined in a May 5 email obtained by The Associated Press, could give de Blasio's office control over virtually all newsworthy Freedom of Information Law requests from journalists, watchdog groups or members of the public. Although the ramifications of the policy are not yet clear, transparency advocates fear such control could lead to prolonged delays in responding to records requests, a criticism both President Barack Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced when they instituted similar policies. "The concern from a transparency perspective will be if City Hall orders the delay or partial release or in any way impedes anything but a full and robust response," said John Kaehny, director of the nonprofit Reinvent Albany and a co-chair of the New York City Transparency Working Group.

Progressive Mayor Talks AboutTransparentcy He Just Does Not Practice it
The open-government lessons that de Blasio somehow forgot (NYP Ed) Whenever an elected official vows to deliver “the most transparent administration in history,” bet you’ll get the opposite. Mayor de Blasio’s office has ordered city agencies to forward all Freedom of Information Law requests to his lawyers so they can check for anything that might “reflect directly on the mayor.” The lawyers must then flag FOIL requests that City Hall itself should examine “due to their level of attention, sensitivity or controversy.” The mayor on Wednesday insisted — with a straight face — that this is all only meant “to speed up and streamline the FOIL process.” No political vetting here! Mind you, this is the very thing Public Advocate Bill de Blasio denounced in 2013 — when he demanded that “we have to start holding government accountable when it refuses to turn over public records to citizens and taxpayers.” Back then, de Blasio handed out transparency grades to every city agency and flunked two of them — including the NYPD — for failing to “obey the law.” 

Maybe Mayor de Blasio should re-read his own report — and start listening to whatPublic Advocate de Blasio had to say. Of course, stonewalling has been standard operating procedure at City Hall from the moment this mayor was sworn in — an event from which he tried to ban the press. He’s hardly the only hypocrite. President Obama and Gov. Cuomo both promised an unprecedented openness, yet have delivered anything but. Liberal pols talk a good game about transparency, but everything quickly turns opaque when it comes to protecting themselves.*  
* Good government groups and legislators say that an Assembly working group tasked with reforming the chamber's rules to increase transparency and participation has operated in secret and rebuffed outside offers of help, Gotham Gazette reports:

Under Pressure of Being Compared to Nixon, Cuomo Changes Email Policy   
Cuomo Administration Nixes Email Policy (YNN) w Cuomo’s administration announced on Friday it is ending a highly criticized email retention policy that required unsaved messages be deleted after 90 days. In its place, state officials pledged to develop a “uniform” policy for state agencies and departments that would provide specific guidance on which emails should be retained as official records and be maintained.* Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced it will no longer automatically delete emails at state agencies and the executive chamber after 90 days and erasing will now be “entirely manual,” the Times Unionreports:  * The Democrat & Chronicle’s Len LaCara gives a thumbs down to the Cuomo administration’s new email retention policy. * Cuomo backs off automatic email purge policy (NYP) * Cuomo Administration Ends 90-Day Rule on Deleting State Workers’ Email (NYT) * N.Y. to Change Email Policy for State Workers (WSJ) * You’ve got mail, email that Albany must retain (NYDN Ed) Gov. Cuomo has belatedly come to his senses and stopped erasing state-generated emails after just 90 days. Now, Cuomo’s aides say, the computers will keep all emails indefinitely — except if state employees delete them. While this is a marked improvement, the still better approach would be to follow the lead of the federal government. Guidelines recommended by the National Archives call for preserving every last email of every last federal employee for at least seven years, and indefinitely for high-ranking officials.

Govs Double Secret Transparency Email Summit
The Daily News writes that Cuomo’s new policy on retaining emails is a marked improvement, but it would be better if he followed the lead of the federal government and called on state legislative leaders to craft a policy to better preserve the public record * Denise Jewell Gee, a self-professed “email hoarder,” says Cuomo’s 90-day purge policy was “just plain nonsensical – not to mention bad for open government.”
A last-minute time change will prevent the lone legislative representative who was planning to attend Cuomo’s NYC transparency summit today – GOP Assemblyman Andy Goodell of Chautauqua County – from being there in person. Accommodations will be made for him to participate by phone.* An Open Government Meeting, Sparsely Attended (YNN)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s email summit, planned for Friday, will not be attended by representatives from the majority in the state Senate or Assembly, the Times Union reports: * Three out of four legislative conferences say they won'tattend Cuomo's email summit   ***Andrew Cuomo’s double-secret ‘transparency’ summit (NYP Ed) We spy with our little eye — transparency. Or maybe not — it’s still a bit unclear. See, Gov. Cuomo’s office announced May 1 that his long-promised “transparency summit” would finally arrive this Friday — but as of Tuesday had failed to share useful facts, like where, what time, who’d participate or . . . if it’ll even be open to the public. Mind you, the “need” for a summit only arose because Cuomo, after promising the most open and transparent administration in New York history, instituted a policy of deleting employee e-mails after 90 days unless the worker took active steps to keep them.  It was when that policy became known — back in March — that the governor announced he’d convene the summit. Then . . . silence, punctuated by occasional press inquiries, until the early May word of Friday’s “mystery summit.” As of Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s Web site offered no news on the summit. We called his office for details, but have yet to hear back. Obviously, it only makes sense that, when you get a lot of heat for routinely deleting records that the public might want to see, the answer is to offer to hold a summit, do nothing for months, then say the meeting’s on — but don’t say anything more. Is this what Cuomo meant when he said “you can always have more transparency,” but “you can’t live your life in a goldfish bowl”? Hmm. A goldfish bowl sounds like a pretty good venue for a transparency summit. * The Post slams Cuomo’s “double secret transparency summit”, which is scheduled to be held Friday, though whether it will be open to the public remains to be seen. * Cuomo’s summit on transparency and email retention will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Manhattan. The Assembly GOP will be the only legislative conference represented there. * Would-beparticipants spurn @NYGovCuomo'ssummit on government transparency (Capital) Cancer  Health advocates say Cuomo pushed to cut funding for cancer screenings, drawing a contrast to his public calls on people to get tested following the breast cancer diagnosis of his girlfriend Sandra Lee, the International Business Times writes: 

de Blasio All About Going Around the Media   
Bill 'BuzzFeed' de Blasio Taps Power of Social Media for Public...  (DNAINFO) The de Blasio administration has tried to harness social media to reach New Yorkers directly.* From Flickr and Instagram to the city of New York’s posts on BuzzFeed Community as well as first lady Chirlane McCray’s #FLONYC Tumblr account, the de Blasio administration has made it a point to take their message directly to New Yorkers through as many digital social media platforms as possible.

Transparency By the Balls 
Our view: State is failing in transparency mission  Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not had a very good record regarding open government. * The Post writes that Cuomo has “no doubt” proposed a single, statewide policy on email retention because of a “bombshell disclosure” about his former aide Howard Glaser’s consulting role was uncovered through emails: Moreland Emails Saved Moreland emails saved from Cuomo purge policy (Capital)

Freedom of Information Detour
Cuomo's Freedom of Information Delay Float 
Cuomo clamps down on Freedom of Information releases (NYP)  Gov. Cuomo’s hands-on management style extends to reviewing public-record requests even meant for other state agencies. Officials from various state agencies have been sending the most controversial freedom-of-information requests they receive to Cuomo-administration lawyers — who then redact them or delay their release for years, sources told The Post. “It’s pretty common practice,” said a state government source. “If they are controversial, they sit over there for months before being sent back with edits by the [governor’s office].’’* Cuomo Challenges Senate Democrats On FOIL (YNN)The Times Union writes that the lack of legislation to subject the state Legislature itself to the Freedom of Information Law is “quite a shortcoming” for a body professing to be for open government:

The rerouted Freedom of Information Law requests are typically from the state Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, and Public Service Commission, sources said. * Various state agencies have been sending the most controversial Freedom of Information Law requests to Cuomo’s lawyers, who then redact them or delay their release for years, according to sources, the Post reports: *  Officials from various state agencies have been sending the most controversial freedom-of-information requests they receive to Cuomo-administration lawyers — who then redact them or delay their release for years.* The Cuomo administration decided to preserve emails generated by the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, breaking with a policy of automatically deleting most messages after 90 days that the Democratic governor last week pledged to review. A spokeswoman for the state's Office of Information Technology Services confirmed to Capital last week that an exception was made for the Moreland Commission, but refused to elaborate. The commission's nine-month tenure was rocked by criticism, first by charges that senior aides to Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in about pending investigations and later by legislators who sued to block subpoenas seeking details of their outside jobs. Email deletion was another, albeit smaller, point of tumult,according to several people involved in the commission's work. Moreland investigators began to notice in October 2013 that older messages were disappearing from their In-boxes and several, including Danya Perry, the chief of investigations, brought their concerns to Regina Calcaterra, its executive director. The auto-deletion continued, the people said, and staffers were careful to preserve important messages either by printing them or storing them to a hard disk. The tale of the Moreland Commission's electronic records underscores the importance of email preservation, advocates say, and helps make the case for suspending the auto-deletion policy while a new one is formulated. “It just shows the need for a consistent email deletion policy that allows all records to be preserved for up to seven years," said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union. “There's no reason this should be the exception.” * Cuomo Defends Email Retention Policy (YNN) Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his administration’s push to have a 90-day email purge policy, saying it was an effort to created a uniform system across the executive branch. “As I said, we wanted a unified Senate, Assembly, executive, AG, comptroller, ideally,” Cuomo said. “It would make no sense to have one policy for the executive chamber, a different one for the agencies. That would be nonsensical.” * Cuomo: ‘Nonsensical’ to have different email policies (Capital)* Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to make more transparent the finances of the executive branch, which are subject to FOIL but not currently published or posted online, Capital New York reports * State Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, the two lawmakers behind legislation to block Cuomo’s 90-day email deletion policy, are calling for an immediate suspension of the purge, State of Politics writes: * Cuomo defended the state’s email deletion policy, saying state workers can save the emails before they are deleted and that the state is working on a broader policy across all agencies, Gannett Albany reports * Cuomo insists he’s not a complete luddite, but also admits to preferring phone calls to email. * Cuomo: “I am not a big email guy” (VIDEO) *Cuomo said it was “misleading and unkind and inaccurate” to say the state has a policy of automatically deleting most emails after 90 days. In his first public comments on the matter, the governor continued to pin the policy on his predecessor, ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer (who has declined to comment), and noted that he’s called for a summit with legislators to develop a uniform policy. * Only transparency in Cuomo’s ethics plan is in how thin itis." * Siena Poll: Keep Emails Longer Than 90 Days (YNN) * A poll found 80% of New York voters disagree with Cuomo’s policy on purgingstate emails(NYT) * Siena Poll: Keep Emails Longer Than 90 Days (YNN)
Pols Do 180 On Erasing Emails 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office indicated it was open to a new email retention policy if it included Freedom of Information Law provisions that applied to all state officials and agencies, The New York Times reports: The Times’ Jim Dwyer writes that it was probably notnefarious that a 2002-era policy of deleting state emails after 90 days has persisted, but that the legislature’s lack of retention rules was more deliberate: * But Cuomo should “swallow his pride” and take a cue from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has suspended the practice of automatically erasing emails after 90 days, the Daily News writes:  * Cuomo, who doesn't have email, gets documents thru aides whoreceive them via fax or email, then print them for him (WSJ) * Bob Hardt: An E-Mail Lesson from Hillary to Cuomo (NY1) * AG Backed Email Purge Policy Before Rejecting It (YNN) * After legislators earlier proposed a new law to retain state workers’ emails and AG Eric Schneiderman announced he’s suspending the email purge policy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said it would seek a uniform policy in state agencies and in the Legislature on email retention and FOIL.* Some of Cuomo's top aides "regularly delete the entirecontents of their inboxes," @eorden reports:(WSJ) * Cuomo’s spokeswoman said the meeting was called “as the attorney general and the legislature appear open to revising their policies.” In fact, neither majority conference leader has proposed changes to their current exemption from FOIL or email retention, though a handful of bills have been introduced that would cover email retention as well as FOIL in the Legislature. * The DN says it’s time for Cuomo to “swallow his pride” and follow Schneiderman’s lead on emails. * AG Schneiderman erases Cuomo’s rule on official emails (NYP)   * After presiding over a meeting of the Capital Region’s Economic Development Council, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul made the case for a broad, uniform email retention policy applicable to all branches of state government,the Times Union reports: * Cuomo reverses policy on e-mail deletion  (AMNY) *Coalition of organizations and lobbying entities is calling on the governor to adopt the federal standard for email retention—a seven-year minimum for keeping electronic messages, State of Politics reports * O’Donnell: Cuomo FOIL Summit ‘Insufficient’(YNN) *Hochul Says She Sends ‘Very Few’ Emails (YNN)* LG Kathy Hochul, who says she’s not a big email user and prefers to talk on the phone,made the case for a broad email and FOIL policy for the executive and legislative branches.* Cuomo adminreconsiders email purge policy, points to Legislature and FOIL (TU)* A coalition of organizations and lobbying entities iscalling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop erasing so many emails * Cuomo Under Scrutiny for Email Deletion PolicyImplemented by State Government Offices (NY1)
Cuomo After Silver's Arrest I See the Reform LightAgain 

No Transparency . . .  Political Wall of Silence and Erased Emails
You Think They are Trying to Hide Something?

State Lawmakers Introduce Email Retention Bills (YNN)* State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has decided to scrap the controversial 90-day email purge policy put in place by his predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, State of Politicsreports:    * As expected, a pair of Democratic lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly announced they had introduced legislation that would create an email retention policy for state government, State of Politics reports: * Paterson To Legislature: Practice What You Preach On Transparency (YNN)  * Cuomo to Convene Email & FOIL Policy Confab (YNN) * Clinton Private Email Plan Drew Concerns Early On (WSJ) 
Emails Reveal Lobbyist Had Undisclosed Role In CuomoFinancial Crisis  Investigation (Propublica) Howard Glaser, a lobbyist and longtime confidant to Andrew Cuomo, previously denied he was involved in the then-attorney general’s investigations. Newly obtained emails show otherwise. * Previously undisclosed emails by Howard Glaser, a mortgage industry lobbyist doubling as a consultant for then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, show Glaser played a self-described “critical role” in one of Cuomo’s signature financial crisis investigations – though he previously claimed to only be giving general advice to the office and was “not involved” in any specific cases. blair horner ‏@blairhorner  Wow (Cuomo emails). Shows the importance of requiring government officials to archive -- not delete -- emails ***    "The most transparent administration ever": Cuomoadministration begins large-scale email purges (Capital) * Spitzer Officials Question Cuomo Email Purge Policy(YNN)

No Wonder Andrew Cuomo Is Purging Emails: Pro Publica and the Times Union report:Previously undisclosed emails...
Erasing e-mails proves Cuomo’s vow of transparency is a sham(NYP Ed)  If you can’t trust Uncle Andrew, who can you trust? Never mind that US Attorney Preet Bharara — fresh from taking down Sheldon Silver — seems to be breathing right down the gubernatorial neck. “Stay tuned,” the prosecutor warned — with both eyes fixed firmly on Andrew. Never mind that Cuomo’s former chief of staff, Larry Schwartz, who left as the noose was tightening around Silver’s neck, now can’t find a job — reportedly because of Bharara’s continuing probe. Never mind that state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just opened an inquiry into Cuomo’s casino-siting commission. *   The governor’s former top racing and gaming adviser was “aghast” to learn that his emails concerning the banishment of the Wandering Dago food truck from Saratoga Race Course had been deleted from his account — despite a reporter’s FOIL request and a lawsuit involving communications related to the truck’s banishment. * Former Cuomo aide ‘aghast’ at deleted emails (NYP) Revelation of the admission by Bennett Liebman, former deputy secretary of racing and gaming, came amid controversy over the Cuomo administration’s recently revealed policy of automatically purging all state workers’ emails after 90 days. The owners of the ​“Wandering Dago” food truck sued the state after getting barred from the grounds of the Saratoga Race Course over the truck’s potentially ethnically offensive name.* Open government leader warns against email deletion policy (Capital)* Will New York Have a Clinton-Like Email Problem? (NYT) State employee emails are automatically deleted after 90 days.* Cuomo’s Email Purge Policy Dates To AG Days (YNN) * "Heastie defends privacy of legislative email,meetings"  (Capital)

What’s important is that Cuomo’s cyber scrubbers soon will have vaporized all e-mail generated by state government that’s more than three months old — eradicating evidence of, well, who knows what. * What is it about the casino-siting procedure that has excited Schneiderman’s interest? He’s as political as Cuomo, to be sure, but this is now a matter of personal trust for the governor. * NYC's Commission onPublic Info & Communication's last meeting was in 2012. They definitelytake this very seriously (DNAINFO)  * Casey Seiler onCuomo's new Orwellian email "preservation" (deletion) policyCasey Seiler onCuomo's new Orwellian email "preservation" (deletion) policy:(TU) * Krueger: Cuomo’s Disclosure Rules In Conflict With Email Policy(YNN)* A top state racing and gaming adviser was “aghast” to learn emails concerning the ouster of a food truck from the Saratoga Race Course have been deleted despite a related lawsuit, the Times Union reports: 90-day email purge policy, saying the practice has been in place in the executive chamber—albeit not enforced across executive agencies—since 2007, State of Politics reports:

de Blasio Bars Improperly Bars Press 

DOI: De Blasio improperly barred press from union meeting(NYDN)* De Blasio held private meeting for union pals in Cablevision clash(NYP) A meeting Mayor Bill de Blasio arranged to support his union pals in a beef with Cablevision was illegally closed to the public and The Post and may have violated city conflict-of-interest laws, the mayor’s own investigators reported Tuesday. During the July 14 meeting at PS 66 in Canarsie, de Blasio told members of the Communication Workers of America that “I am with you every step of the way” and “You can count on our support.” But de Blasio — who promised unprecedented transparency while campaigning — stonewalled investigators when they asked for transcripts or recordings of the meeting, and provided only redacted emails about the event, said Richard Condon, special commissioner of investigation for the city’s schools, and Mark Peters, head of the city Department of Investigation Political gatherings are generally banned from public schools unless approved by the Department of Education, the report said. In a statement the night of the meeting, Cablevision accused de Blasio of using his office to favor political allies. “We believe the mayor is simply repaying a political debt to [CWA political director] Bob Master and the CWA as well as the Working Families Party for supporting his election, and we call upon the mayor to stop acting against the interest of Cablevision employees by trying to force a union on those who do not want one,” the statement said.* Report Faults Mayor for Excluding Press From Meeting(WSJ) * Overlooked? coauthorof report faulting City Hall for union meeting = deBlaz's excampaign aide (NYT)* Government watchdog wants probe into secret de Blasio union meeting(NY1) A longtime government watchdog called on the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board on Wednesday to pursue city officials who allowed what may have been a political meeting inside a public school.* When de Blasio secretly conspired to use city resources to rally workers against a private New York business, he crossed a line and sent a clear message to workers that they must obey their unions, the Post writes:

de Blasio Only Connection to Transparency Was His Campaign Promises 
Team de Blasio Use Private Emails For Govt Business
Two top deputies of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who campaigned on creating a new era of government openness, commonly use their personal Gmail accounts to discuss city-related issues, the Daily News writes:   NAILED ON EMAIL: Top de Blasio aides use personal accounts for city-related issues despite mayor's transparency promise  Top de Blasio aides use personal accounts for city-relatedemails despite mayor's transparency promise (NYDN)

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and director of intergovernmental affairs Emma Wolfe routinely communicate on city issues via their private email addresses, according to multiple insiders. Good-government groups say that’s a covert way to dodge oversight and contrary to the open government de Blasio vowed to run. First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and director of intergovernmental affairs Emma Wolfe routinely communicate via their private email addresses, according to multiple government insiders.  Good-government groups contend that’s a behind-the-scenes way to dodge oversight and contrary to the open government de Blasio vowed to run as he campaigned for mayor.

Tale of Two de Blasio's: Transparent BS and Secret 

The transparent and secret sides of Bill de Blasio(NYP) Transparent Bill parades his family in front of the cameras, turning his children, warts and all, into celebrities and political surrogates. He smooches First Lady Chirlane McCray in public, and she bares details of her lesbian past and problems in child-rearing. They get ready to move to Gracie Mansion by stacking their stuff in front of their Brooklyn house so passers-by can take it, or maybe just gawk at its ordinariness.  The mayor takes offense when his public airing of private laundry is portrayed as something other than absolutely wonderful, but he’s inadvertently proving that most pols are wise to keep their private lives private. Once you open the door, you can’t reasonably expect to control how others see you or complain about an invasion of privacy.


BdB and MMV have promised the public more transparency. Will they make changes to final stage of bgt process?

gives itself extra time for response, reports

* Despite the mayor’s office offering the City Hall FOIL tracker, there is still unanimous support for and a desire to continue to push for a bill in the New York City Council that would require the city to create an online portal to track FOIL requests of every agency, Gotham Gazette reports:

  * The Daily News writes that New York must curb strategic lawsuits against public participation, which are designed to silence comment and debate on matters of public interest:

Bill de Blasio Still Doesn’t Think He Has a Transparency Problem(NYO)

FOIL Bishop Email?  . . .    
FOIL: NYPD Bishop Emails Documents Exempt or They Do Not Exist?

Gothamist appealed the Bill de Blasio administration’s non-response to their FOIL request for documents associated with the Bishop Orlando Findlayter controversy. The publication found that the administration is now arguing those documents are exempt: “Their claim: none of the records exist, except that they do, but we can’t have them. Confused? So are we.” Mr. Findlayter appeared in court yesterday to argue that he was arrested in error back in February, the Wall Street Journal reports: “On Thursday, defense attorney Mark Pollard rejected an offer from Brooklyn prosecutors that the bishop pay a $75 fine to resolve that case. Mr. Pollard outside court said he would … present evidence that his client’s license was suspended in error.”*What We Have Here is A Failure to Communicate Bishop sprung after de Blasio call: It was all a misunderstanding(NYP)


City Council to hear ‘Open FOIL’ bill

It could throw a monkeywrench into the established ways the New York press goes about chasing exclusive investigations.

ATTN ROOM 9 -- Calling for a revolt -- Gabe Pressman, in the News: “Mayor de Blasio’s printed schedule … shows an abundance of mayoral events with the words “closed press.” That means we are told where the mayor will be but also that we’re not permitted to follow him there. … If, as a group, including both print and broadcast reporters, we refused to abide by the de Blasio administration’s restrictions for one day, I believe the situation would change instantly.”

ATTN. ROOM 9: FOIL bill coming Wed. -- Gotham Gazette’s Kristen Meriwether: Councilman Ben Kallos will introduce legislation to publicly track Freedom of Information Law requests submitted to city agencies. Kallos: “What this hopes to correct is the fact that certain agencies are more responsive than others and it will hopefully provide uniformity … Certain FOIL requesters tend to get preferential treatment over others. This would provide a fair playing ground for all."
--Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer: “We are not changing FOIL per say, but we are making it more transparent … FOIL is the best way to make people aware of what is being asked for and there is no better way than to put it up on the web.”

Melinda Katz thanks de Blasio for making the city more "user friendly." Not sure reporters waiting on FOIL requests would agree.

New York officials are using private email to stay out of the public record.

* New York City Councilman Ben Kallos is set to introduce a bill this week that would require a centralized, public, online FOIL system, which would bring greater transparency and accountability to the current FOIL process, the Gotham Gazette writes:

Mayor Still Having Secret Meetings With Lobbyist Despite Promise of Transparency

Secret Meeting With the Council Also
Mayor, City Council Hold Closed-Door Meeting(NY1)

Mayor Has Not Gotten Around to His Promise to Disclose Meetings With Lobbyists(NY1)
The doors to City Hall don't open for everyone, so candidate Bill de Blasio promised last year that he would make the halls of government more transparent."They know the difference between people that want to continue the status quo and candidates who are ready to make change," he said in August 2013. De Blasio promised to disclose meetings members of his office had with lobbyists. The reports would be given monthly. Three-and-a-half months into his mayoralty, the now-mayor has not disclosed a single meeting. We know that the officials in the mayor's office has sat down with lobbyists.

 Lobbyists are required to disclose who they are targeting to the city clerk. "I've talked with them about development projects that are happening throughout the city," said lobbyist Kenneth Fisher. Other lobbyists told us they had multiple meetings with officials in the mayor's office from issues ranging from affordable housing to whether yellow cabs should be handicap accessible. For now, the mayor does not have a timeline for disclosing these closed-door sessions.

Transparency Promises
De Blasio to attend a closed door city council meeting (Capital)De Blasio, who counts Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito among his closest political allies, will discuss the city budget, which must be adopted by July 1 after negotiations between the legislative and executive branches of City Hall. He also will talk about land-use issues, over which the Council has significant say, said one source briefed on the upcoming meeting.
Lobbyists the New Permanent Government

Mayor Delivers On His Promise of Transparency At the REBNY Meeting
Aide to mayor say he has no prepared remarks for REBNY mtg so they have nothing to release. Presumably someone on his staff could record. * Staking out REBNY mtg. De Blasio inside. Closed press. Aides won't release his remarks despite BdB's promise to make avail "in many cases" : On his way out of the mtg, Related's Steven Ross said BDB said "good things" about affordable housing* De Blasio Received With ‘Open Arms’ at REBNY Meeting(NYO) * De Blasio pushes on, pitching REBNY on pre-K(Capital) * Press Shut Out of Mayor De Blasio's Closed-Door Talk With | New York Daily News
 QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The central purpose of the meeting was for me to make clear how important it is for us to move on pre-K and after-school for the future of this city. I think nothing is more crucial in terms of our future workforce, the future of our economy—and by the way what makes this such an appealing place for people to start a business, to own a home or rent a home—it all has to do with the future quality of our school system." – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio discussing his address to the Real Estate Board of New York, via Crain’s* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pitched his universal pre-K plan to the Real Estate Board of New York and afterward claimed that the real estate community was receptive to his progressive ideas, Crain’s writes *  HIGH BILL AMBITION: Mayor de Blasio says he would OK affordable housing buildings at any size(NYDN)

Another Secret Meeting 
According to NY1, Bill de Blasio “seems to be struggling to fulfill his promise to bring more transparency to City Hall, as he refused to answer questions Wednesday about his closed-door meeting with real estate developers, and he did not let the media know about a private sit-down with top White House aide Valerie Jarrett until after it was over.” * De Blasio’s commitment to his pledge to be transparent is being questioned after a closed door meeting with members of REBNY and an undisclosed meeting with White House senior aide Valerie Jarrett, NY1 reports: * Key Obama aide pays visit to Mayor de Blasio, Chirlane at City Hall (NYDN) Valerie Jarrett talks pre-K, minimum wage with First Couple * First Lady Chirlane McCray Gets Personal For Black History Month(NYDN)* Chris Hayes Grills de Blasio: Is ‘Defender of Israel’ Really Part of Your Job Description? (VIDEO)

What's the big secret with Hizzoner?
Bill de Blasio – who trumpeted transparency and openness as the city's Public Advocate and as a mayoral candidate – is having a tough time being an open book now that's he's mayor. Whether it's meeting with the Real Estate Board of New York or the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC or a top White House official, de Blasio is acting like he's still a candidate who's hiding valuable information from his opponents rather than being a public servant. Being mayor of New York City – like being president – is a tradeoff. You're one of the most prominent and important elected officials in the nation but you've also agreed to live in a bubble where there's not a lot of private time. De Blasio's campaign organization justifiably prided itself on "message discipline" in which strategy and announcements didn't leak out until they were supposed to. But somewhere along the line, that discipline is being confused with secrecy. Reporters can be annoying, ask stupid questions, and be where you don't want them to be – but that's their job. Closing a door ensures that 99 percent of the city won't hear what the other 1 percent is up to.

FOI Lapses
Editorial: Public records should not be treasure hunt (pressconnects)
Report uncovers FOI lapses

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