33M shelled out to lobby city officials
Lisa L. Colangelo
Lobbyists collected more than $33 million in fees last year for trying to toss their considerable weight around City Hall.
The top 10 lobbyists and their firms accounted for almost half that - $15.3 million, according to the annual lobbying report released yesterday by City Clerk Victor Robles.
The top spot went to Greenberg Traurig, a firm that includes Robert Harding, who served as deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration. It reported $1.9 million in revenues.
Greenberg Traurig received more than $90,000 to represent the New York Jets.
But since the report covers only 2004, most of the heavy spending on the stadium battle won't show up until next year.
Kasirer Consulting followed, raking in $1.8 million. That firm is headed by Suri Kasirer, who is married to former Giuliani aide Bruce Teitelbaum. The firm represented more than three dozen groups ranging from $48,000 from Citymeals-on-Wheels to $60,000 from the Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center.
Some $15,000 in Jets money showed up in filings from the Parkside Group, which has close ties to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, a mayoral hopeful and stadium foe.
The News Interview: Gifford Miller
Democrat Gifford Miller, speaker of the City Council and a candidate for mayor, talked with the Editorial Board.
Question: Why are you running?
Answer: Because I think we have forgotten that the mayor of the City of New York is the urban leader of the country and that this mayor squanders opportunities to provide real moral and political leadership on issues of concern not just to the city but to urban areas all over this country. I am running because I think he is leading us in the wrong direction on too many issues and giving us a bunch of excuses instead of what we really need, which are results on real serious structural problems.
What would you do differently?
I would lead us in a different direction that focuses on producing results right now, lowering class size right now. I have a specific proposal on how to do it by extending the personal income tax surcharge that's due to expire Jan. 1 on people making more than $500,000 a year and using it immediately to lower class sizes.
Where has Bloomberg failed to provide moral leadership?
A good example would be civil rights for gays and lesbians.
Where has he failed to provide political leadership?
We are currently sending $24 billion more away to Washington and Albany than we get back every year. It's a crippling problem, and getting the Olympics is not a solution. A solution to our long-term problem of being structurally overtaxed and underserved is turning that number around.
Under Mayor Miller, how far would that $24 billion drop?
I use the $24 billion as a shorthand. We don't get our fair share of mass transit aid, education aid, anti-terrorism aid, health care. The real benchmark ought to be fairness. That is very hard to put an exact number to. My point is we need to turn it around.
You criticize the status quo, but things aren't so bad. Crime is down, jobs are growing, residential values are up.
If people want to settle for this, then this is what they should settle for. If people want to actually move our schools forward, then you need a positive vision and proven leadership to get it done. This mayor, what is he doing to solve the serious structural problems?
Not that he has been a terrible mayor, but what we get from him are a bunch of excuses or we have a lack of vision. When you sum it all up, he wants to bring us the Olympics, and that actually is sort of the sum total of what he wants to do with the next four years. Or he wants to do more of the same in the school system, which is more concerning.
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