Mayor Bloomberg Uses Private Email To Avoid FOI Requests; Has No Plans To Retain Archive Of Office, NYPD Emails
from the he-must-be-bored-of-the-job----only-reason-why-he-isn't-mayor-for-life dept
It appears New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has left no process unexploited during his term as the city’s boss, creating a hybrid police/nanny-state firmly founded on the principle that “Bloomberg knows best.” If anyone dared to express their doubts, they were swiftly assuaged in a condescending tone that let the questioner know that asking such questions was not only foolish, but also potentially dangerous.
As much of New York impatiently holds open the EXIT door, further details of Bloomberg’s casual abuse of power have emerged.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a private way of discussing city business — using an email account from his company, Bloomberg L.P.
DNAinfo New York has learned of correspondences between Bloomberg and a deputy mayor in which each uses an @bloomberg.net email address to discuss city-related matters.
DNAinfo claims to have emails discussing city matters in its possession. Obviously, Bloomberg’s use of a private email address means that these emails won’t be subject to FOIL requests. In order to see these emails, one would have to subpoena them, which isn’t exactly the way public information discussing matters that affect the public is supposed to work.
The half-hearted defense offered by the mayor’s spokesman fails to sufficiently apply lipstick to this pig.
LaVorgna acknowledged that Bloomberg and top aides have private accounts.
“Yes, people have personal email accounts. It’s no different than everyone with a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account,” he said.
Sure, it’s no different than anyone with a private email address, except for the fact that official city business should be routed through official city email accounts. Sidestepping FOI laws isn’t something city officials should be doing, much less the head guy, who should be leading by example. (Maybe he is leading by example. After all, the NYPD is less responsive to FOI requests than national intelligence agencies and Bloomberg himself has spent a bit of the city’s money fighting information requests in the city’s courts.)
But this isn’t the nadir of Bloomberg’s attempts to preserve his legacy by obscuring his activities. DNAinfo points out that while many New York City agencies have a variety of potential plans in place to retain and archive agency email…
[T]he city plans to retain the emails of the Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Buildings, the Law Department, the Office of Collective Bargaining, the Department of Aging, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, the Business Integrity Commission, the Parks Department, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Department of Probation, the Department of Small Business Services, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the Department of Consumer Affairs and smaller agencies.
four agencies conspicuously do NOT:
[T]he city still hasn’t decided whether to preserve the emails of major agencies like the mayor’s office, NYPD, the Department of Education and FDNY, sources said.
No surprises there. The easiest way to avoid potentially embarrassing/damaging info from making its way into the public eye is to a) take official business off official channels and b) let any remaining emails vanish into the memory hole.
The city (read: mayor) only has to hold out for ninety days or so and any potential problems solve themselves. Sure, this may open the city up to litigation somewhere down the line, but that’s a problem for Bloomberg’s successors and underlings to deal with.
Not that Bloomberg’s dickishness isn’t without precedent. Prominent New York politicians have a habit of keeping email archives out of the public’s reach. Rather than add them to the Municipal Archives, local pols have done things like this instead:
Rudy Giuliani… transferred his mayoral papers to a nonprofit he controlled rather than follow the usual protocol of handing them directly to the city’s Municipal Archives.
At the time, Giuliani said he was personally paying for a private archival firm to catalog the documents quickly.
And as for routing around FOIL, Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly used a personal BlackBerry to punch holes in his paper trail.
Dismaying, but hardly surprising, especially considering Bloomberg’s enthusiasm for protecting those things he holds dear, like himself and his beloved PD. Bloomberg appears to be more than happy to let anything he didn’t run through his personal email address blink out of existence as he steps out the door.