Saturday, December 20, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: The "T-Word" in City Hall

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The Pre-K King of City Hall is a little defensive after The Associated Press' Jonathan Lemire looked at the frequent closed-door policy the mayor is embracing when it comes to the media.

Among other nuggets, Lemire focused on the fact that instead of inviting the entire press corps along for the ride at some of his events, the mayor has been bringing "pool reporters" – someone who then has to share the words, photos, and video images with their colleagues, who are barred from the actual activity. This means that reporters don't get to see for themselves what's happening – leading to a uniformity in interpretation of an event. (The dispute over President George H.W. Bush's confusion over a supermarket scanner in 1992 is a good example of pool journalism gone awry.)

De Blasio also seems to be at odds with the "transparency" that he promised while he was Public Advocate and a candidate for mayor. He bristled when asked about it yesterday, noting that the administration was forthcoming about revealing problems with the city's 911 system – something that's not so hard to do when it's the previous mayor who created the system.

The mayor also talked about a campaign pledge he made last year about lobbyists: " And we said very clearly, which no previous mayor has done and which I do right now, we disclose all meetings with lobbyists if there’s any discussion of their subject matter."

But – as our Courtney Gross reported last month – the mayor has yet to disclose a single meeting that his administration has held with lobbyists. A mayoral spokesman yesterday said City Hall is still coming up with a timeline and procedures to list those meetings.

All of this might seem like unfair grousing from reporters but it's the mayor who set the bar so high as a candidate. Is anyone surprised that a former corporate CEO doesn't want to tell reporters that he goes to Bermuda every weekend? It's a different story when a community activist turned mayor gives a speech to a pro-Israel group and then doesn't tell anyone about it.

It's still early in his administration but the mayor might want to realize that openness isn't just good policy, it's good politics in his case because he's genuinely likeable. After 20 years of gloomy Rudy and grumpy Mike, New York could have a mayor who actually puts a smile on people's faces. But sometimes it's not easy building a see-through door.

Bob Hardt

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