Monday, April 27, 2009

Tempting to Forge Links? Digressing to Say That This Is “Hard(ing)ly” About Bloomberg

(Enlarged portion of New York Times image in article about arrest of Ray Harding.)

Last week we were writing a piece consisting of just one week’s worth of news updates about Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. (Although all the updates were confined to those involving reasons for concern about the mayor and his administration,- but are there any others?- the piece already ran long. See: Keeping up with Bloomberg and Friends: Stark New Scandals and Is it True WSJ Readers Don’t Commit Murder? - Sunday, April 19, 2009.)

Hevesi and Harding and . . .

We were tempted to mention Ray Harding’s indictment as part of the Bloomberg story, but it didn’t seem sufficiently Bloombergian. We could have worked it in because we did write about the widening Hevesi investigation in regard to revelations that Steven Rattner arranged for his investment firm, the Quadrangle Group, to pay $1.1 million to obtain New York State pension fund business. We said that this raises Blombergian questions since Rattner is not only a friend defended by Bloomberg, but his firm was named “to manage the personal and family foundation assets of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” which are supposed to be managed according to strict standards to avoid conflicts of interests for Bloomberg. All it takes for Rattner to blow the theoretical protections against the conflicts is for Rattner to tell Bloomberg more than he is permitted to know about his money (his billions). For more on this, listen to The Brian Lehrer, Pension Scandal, April 21, 2009 with guests Tom Robbins, columnist for the Village Voice, and Peter Lattman, Wall Street Journal reporter. (BTW: We put in our two cents worth with a comment on the site.)

The most recent update on this story is that:

Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement on Tuesday that he had no plans to move his money and that Quadrangle was doing “a great job.”
(See: Quadrangle Facing Questions Over Pension Funds, by Louise Story, April 21, 2009.)

Pursuit of More Endorsements Hardly Gets You There Either, Even When “Liberally” Considered

Another way we could have worked the Harding indictment into the Bloomberg story was to talk about the political party endorsements Bloomberg is garnering. The variety of miscellaneous endorsements Bloomberg is pursuing may make for some odd mismatches of questionable import. As for Bloomberg and Ray Harding’s Liberal Party? This is from the Daily News:

In 2005, the mayor again ran with GOP and Independence Party support and also gathered signatures to run on the Liberal Party line. The Liberal Party lost its ballot line in 2002 after its gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Cuomo, failed to capture 50,000 votes - the threshold necessary to keep it.

Asked if Bloomberg might seek to run on yet another independent party line this fall, Wolfson said: "Nothing is ruled out or in."
(See: Mayor Mike Bloomberg seeks endorsement from Working Families Party, Monday, by Elizabeth Benjamine, April 13th 2009.)

A New Connection: Will Thompson Be Undermined In His Race Against Bloomberg?

Here is something that just happened that could tie the Hevesi pension fund investment investigation and the aforementioned Quadrangle Group into Bloomberg’s race for mayor in yet one more way. And it could also mean that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into the pension fund will have an unexpectedly adverse affect on Cuomo’s expected run for Governor in 2010.

Right now William C. Thompson Jr., the New York City Comptroller, is the front-running challenger to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in this fall’s election. The Hevesi investigation is widening so that Cuomo will now also be investigating, Thompson who succeeded Alan Hevesi as comptroller. Thompson’s office also had dealings with Quadrangle. Thompson issued a statement that “called for Mr. Cuomo’s office to investigate his office, and specifically whether the city pension funds `were intentionally misled or deceived as to the identities of any placement agents involved in an investment by the funds in the Quadrangle Group.’” and “to clear the air.” (See: New York City Comptroller Draws Scrutiny, by Danny Hakim, April 22, 2009.) One must wonder whether Thompson expected that Cuomo was otherwise going to announce that it was going to begin investigating his office as the “fallout from a pension corruption inquiry continued to widen.”

The Times pointed out the obvious potential effect on the mayoral race:

So far, Mr. Thompson has kept free of the pension scandal. If that changes, it could compromise his already formidable task of unseating a billionaire mayor.
(On Sunday the Comptroller Office issued a sort “the-plot-thickens” press release saying that Quadrangle did not accurately identify the placement agent it used and expressing the comptroller’s disappointment that Quadrangle’s did not “see fit to vote to terminate the investment of monies to a fund that is under such a cloud and stand firm in my position that the City Pension Systems acted appropriately in voting to terminate any such further investments.”)

And how might this affect Cuomo’s race for governor? The more Bloomberg’s race for Mayor is an uncontested event, the more Bloomberg is likely to be strengthened if he later goes into the race for governor as a stepping stone towards challenging and ousting Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Cuomo might find himself rather bloodied by a primary fight with Paterson, a fellow Democrat. On the other hand, since no one seems to want to take on Bloomberg’s billions in a serious fight, Bloomberg could arrive on the scene with a reputation for invulnerability, no one having effectively tested the chinks in his armor. If anything, Bloomberg would be thankful to Cuomo for knocking out Paterson for him before he next moves to take on Obama.

So There is No Bloombergian Harding Link After All?

So there it is: Try as we might, there are no links we can think of that would have allowed us to work in the Ray Harding arrest story into our Keeping up with Bloomberg and Friends Bloomberg update story. . .

Wait a minute! What about that piece we just did that connected Mayor Giuliani’s Housing Development Corporation chief, Russell Harding (Ray Harding’s son) to Bloomberg’s Commissioner of Finance, Martha E. Stark? Wouldn’t that have worked? (For the link, see: Monday, April 27, 2009, Links to Avoid: Unnecessary Temptation, Unnecessary Subsidies.)

No comments: