Officials Finally Unload ‘Agents of the City’ Emails

Officials Finally Unload ‘Agents of the City’ Emails

Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor de Blasio met with members of the media at City Hall after the emails were released.

By Michael V. Cusenza
Following a protracted court battle, a State Appellate Division judge earlier this month upheld a lower court’s ruling that Mayor Bill de Blasio must disclose all emails between City Hall and outside consultants that de Blasio called “agents of the City.”
City Hall on Thursday finally forked over more than 4,000 pages of correspondences to Spectrum News NY1 and the New York Post, the plaintiffs that originally filed the Freedom of Information Law request two years ago. The two news outlets won the original lawsuit last year.
The emails are mostly electronic conversations between de Blasio, City Hall aides, and the consulting firm BerlinRosen (mainly principle Jonathan Rosen). BerlinRosen had been hired by de Blasio’s now-defunct non-profit Campaign for One New York.
“The City argued that even though Rosen and several other private consultants were not public servants, they served as ‘agents of the city,’ exempting them from Freedom of Information requests,” NY1 noted.
The messages reveal the tedium of a bureaucracy at work. However, some are embarrassing while others expose secretly held positions on important issues and individuals.
One email that has gotten plenty of traction features de Blasio ripping the media.
“First of all, the news media is pitiful and it’s sad for our city and nation,” Hizzoner said in an August 2015 note. “We can make a conscience decision to surrender…or we can govern. They will never defeat us.”
While de Blasio retains the most contempt for the city’s entrenched tabloids—the Post and the Daily News—other publications, including The New York Times and The Atlantic, do not escape his vitriol.
“I think there’s a problem with mainstream media. I mean, I’ll get to the specifics but I think the broad point is there’s a problem with mainstream media. I have felt this my whole life,” de Blasio said on Friday during his weekly spot on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC-FM. “This is not new to my role as mayor. We have a corporate media. It is based on a free-enterprise model. It’s based on selling things. I don’t think that’s healthy. I think that leads to a lot of distortions. I am a big fan of public radio and public TV. I’m a big fan of alternative media and subscription-based media like The Guardian that are trying to take some of the bias out of the equation that is based—that comes from needing clicks and having a mentality that connects to a corporate structure.”


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