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 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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 1:05pm


    Anyone ask the NSA yet if they have copies of the emails so the public can have its public record back?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Funny, that

    “Yes, people have personal email accounts. It’s no different than everyone with a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account,” he said.

    Nearly every place I've ever worked had a rule that prohibited employees from discussing company business using personal email accounts. In part for security, but mostly to adhere to the companies data retention policies.

    Is NYC so backwoods that they don't have a similar policy?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re: NSA?

    Perhaps we should send the FOIA requests to the NSA instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    so which of all the lies and bullshit that were spilled made him trusted enough to be given the position of Mayor in the first place? or was it simply the directions he distributed his mega bucks in?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    So subjects need no privacy, but the kings business is his own private affair.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Funny, that

    I would assume since it's a government position, paid with taxpayer dollars, that you would be required to use a government email address.

    There would be too much risk of scandals or illegal works that couldn't be traced if you were allowed to use private emails for a public service position. I highly doubt it would be legal...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    Is this legal?

    Are official communications conducted through personal channels really beyond the reach of Freedom of Information laws? If official communications are kept in personal accounts, failing to disclose them in response to FOIL requests is the same as lying about the existence of those records. If the records are kept in personal accounts and subsequently deleted, it's the same as deleting official correspondence from the record.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    Bloomberg is a BILLIONAIRE. This is like being surprised at a snake.

    Inherent iron law of nature.

    And as I've mentioned, The Rich now have the high-tech police / surveillance state all worked out. You're pretty much fighting the last class war if surprised at how brazen and advanced are their techniques.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    John Snape (profile), Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 2:57pm

    Let him sit in jail!

    How about you sit in this here jail cell, Mr. Bloomberg, until you decide to release every single email that discusses city business.

    Oh, yeah, your guards will be a few of the local youths who have been repeatedly frisked under your stop-and-frisk program.

    And your food will be prepared by some local businesses that had to accommodate your nanny-state food laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 4:39pm

    Doesn't NY have an Open Meeting Law? In Cali, the fact that public business was routinely being discussed privately would be against the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    If he had nothing to hide he wouldn't do this. Would suck if some IT whistle blower or Anonymous did something about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 7:28pm

    Obviously, Bloomberg's use of a private email address means that these emails won't be subject to FOIL requests.

    It could open up Bloomberg's LP to requests that they reveal emails. In order to verify which are piublic and which are private, more emails might be revealed than he wished. This is a risk for him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    PaulT (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 1:12am

    Re: Funny, that

    That was going to be my comment. Small organisations can be more lenient, but using external email during office hours was a disciplinary offence in most offices I've worked in, if not classed as gross misconduct and sackable - and this is in the UK/Europe, which tends make it more difficult for such things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 3:28am

    So New Yorkers are kicking him out by not voting for him, right? Or is he leaving anyway because he can't be re-elected? If it's the latter then New Yorkers seem to deserve what they get. If the former then kudos to NY ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 4:59am

    Why is everyone so surprised at Bloomberg's shenanigans? He's only emulating his heroes in the Federal Gummint, and thinks New York should act like DC. No mystery there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    R.H. (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 7:34am


    He's not running for re-election this time. NYC limits their mayor and city council members to three terms and he's about 90 days away from the end of his third term as mayor so he can't legally run again. That's probably why most of the worst crap cropped up since he began his last term in January 2010, he's not running for re-election again so he doesn't need to work as hard to hide it anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Pam, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:10am

    Wake up New Yorkers

    I believe Mikey has lost touch with the real world. Maybe it's his money that made him drunk on power.
    I find it appalling that just because he is protected with wealth and can live in the finest secured neighborhoods he feels it gives him the right to take away law abiding citizens rights to protect themselves.
    Ever since Oliar went on national television to tell the country, after a jury exonerated George Zimmerman, that he was on the side of a thug wearing hoodie with a criminal record, and how people like Mayor Mike are trying to strip law abiding citizens of their rights to protect themselves it actually emboldened criminals in my neighborhood.
    I am a 50 year old female with a bad back and was almost carjacked while sitting at a stop sign shortly after Barack Hussein sided with a thug on national television. The 200 pound Trayvon Martin look alike had his hand on my door handle and if my dog had not barked in the back seat I would not have had enough time to reach into my glove box and take out my gun box. Seeing that box was the only reason he let go and ran. Ninety- nine percent of the time there is no time to call the police and minutes count.
    So Bloomberg I am glad to hear you won't be running for re-elect and stop trying to make law abiding citizens, like me, a statistic and leave our Second Amendment rights alone. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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