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Troubling Pattern as De Blasio Taps Goldman Sachs Exec

Wall Street executive says wealthy bankers willing to give up one latte a day to help city's children. Progressives not likely to be impressed.

Jon Queally

In his second appointment to raise eyebrows among his progressive supporters, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced Monday that he was selecting a former Goldman Sachs executive to be the city's deputy mayor of housing and urban development.

"The question that even some de Blasio fans raise is, at what point do you surround yourself with so many insiders that truly substantial change becomes impossible." –Jarrett Murphy

The choice of Alicia Glen, a high-level executive at the well-known investment bank, drew special attention because of de Blasio's slated plan to increase taxes on the wealthy and promises to curb the excesses and influence of Wall Street financial firms epitomized by Goldman Sachs.

As the New York Times reports:

Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Glen said at a news conference in a Brooklyn factory that, as deputy mayor, she would focus on building more affordable housing and helping connect low-income residents to jobs that pay enough to support their families. Mr. de Blasio said his administration would demand “living-wage jobs” from companies that receive tax breaks and other subsidies from the city — a requirement that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg staunchly opposed. Referring to the central theme of Mr. de Blasio’s campaign, Ms. Glen said, “The tale of two cities is not O.K.” Ms. Glen said she did not think her co-workers at Goldman would object to paying higher taxes so that Mr. de Blasio could fulfill his promise of providing universal prekindergarten to the city’s children.

Ms. Glen, 47, said that, being a banker, she calculated that the proposed tax increase would amount to only about $1,000 a year to those who make $750,000 or more annually. That increase, she said, breaks down to approximately $3.50 a day, or the cost of one latte.

Ms. Glen’s portfolio will include the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Authority, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio said.

Mr. de Blasio said it mattered less to him that Ms. Glen worked for Goldman than that he thought she was the best available person for the job. “I don’t care about any stereotypes or assumptions,” Mr. de Blasio said in response to a question about the Goldman link. “I care about who shares my values and can get the job done.”

Questions have already been raised over de Blasio's other appointments, including his choice of William Batton for police commissioner. Batton previously served as the head of the NYPD under Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

And, according to The Nation's Jarrett Murphy, there's a pattern here and a possibly troubling one. He writes:

de Blasio swept from also-ran to mayor-elect on a notion that New York City needed sweeping change, but facing questions about how steady his hand would be as a manager of the massive bureaucracy that is our municipal government. In the trickle of appointments so far, the public advocate has done a lot to answer the questions about his managerial muscle—by bringing in veteran insiders to run the police department and his budget office, and to serve as two of his deputy mayors.

The pattern repeated itself Sunday with the appointment of Gladys Carrion to head the city's Administration for Children's Services, our child welfare agency, which investigates claims of child abuse and neglect, runs the local juvenile justice system and oversees childcare and other services. Carrion has headed ACS's state counterpart, the Office of Children and Family Services, since early 2007. [...]

So far de Blasio has picked a former NYPD commissioner to be his NYPD commissioner, a Bloomberg commissioner to be one of his deputy mayors and a former Port Authority e.d. to be another, a 20-year veteran of the statehouse to be his budget chief and now a state child welfare official to become a city child welfare official. None of the choices can be faulted on competence. The question that even some de Blasio fans raise is, at what point do you surround yourself with so many insiders that truly substantial change becomes impossible.

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