Monday, August 20, 2012

Bloomberg Crony Connection at Tavern on the Green

Last week, we learned that Tavern on the Green, which is in our city's Central Park, was awarded to the brother-in-law of Mayor Bloomberg's campaign manager.

Tavern on the Green

In 1934, during the era of Robert Moses, Tavern on the Green began its life as a restaurant, and the restaurant thrived and grew until its operator's license was not renewed in 2009.

New Operator

Last week, New York City chose as the new operator of Tavern on the Green a Philadelphia-based company that currently manages a 70-seat restaurant. But, Tavern on the Green had 800 seats, and the new restaurant is planned for 600 seats.

As stated in the NY Times: Stephen Starr, who operates large restaurants in Philadelphia, New York and Florida, said he was surprised by the city’s choice of the operator of a small bistro. “It’s a daunting task, to go from 70 to 600 seats, but you never know,” he said. “Rocky beat Apollo Creed in the end.”       

Bloomberg Crony Connection

In an unfortunate twist, the new operator of Tavern on the Green is not only a small operator with only 70 seats under management, the new operator seems to be closely connected to Mayor Bloomberg. The owner of the new operator is the brother-in-law of Mayor Bloomberg's campaign manager.

"The winning out-of-town bidders who nabbed the right to run Tavern on the Green have never operated in New York — but they have family ties to one of Mayor Bloomberg’s top confidants.

One of the owners is the brother-in-law of former Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey.

Officials confirmed yesterday that Jim Caiola, who runs the Philadelphia-based Emerald Green Group with partner David Salama, is the brother of Sheekey’s wife, Robin. The relationship was not disclosed when the Parks Department announced Thursday that Emerald Green had beaten out three other groups competing for the 20-year lease on one of the nation’s most storied eateries, located in Central Park.
“Off the record, I’m speechless,” said a source who works for a rival bidder. City officials insisted everything was conducted on the up-and-up and without favoritism. “They won on the merits, and the entire process was handled by the book,” said mayoral spokesman Marc LaVorgna.

Sheekey left city government two years ago, but continues to have close ties to the mayor and the administration as an executive at Bloomberg LP, the mayor’s information-services company. As top political adviser, Sheekey led two of Hizzoner’s election campaigns and was the driving force behind Bloomberg’s presidential flirtation in 2007."

This type of "inside job" is unsurprising for the Bloomberg Administration, but we should not accept it.

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