Today in an editorial the Daily News says Bloomberg went after Juan Gonzalez for exposing the CityTime mess rather than the crooks who were stealing $80 million from the city:
Ten million filched here, ten million filched there - why, pretty soon you're into one of the biggest inside-job ripoffs in New York government history. Had to be tough to pull it off, no?
Well, not exactly.
Not when management of the civic enterprise - Michael Bloomberg, mayor - has taken a pass on any and all oversight of a hugely ambitious, high-tech overhaul of city personnel practices.
At a price tag of $60 million, this thing called CityTime seemed like such a very good idea: City workers would clock in and out electronically, with a single computer system tracking their hours, days worked, sick time, vacations, etc.
The work was assigned to the Office of Payroll Management, a hybrid agency overseen jointly by the mayor and controller. For the period in question, the latter was Bill Thompson.
Then the question arose: Who should run the office? Who should be given responsibility for hiring computer experts and consultants to design and build such a complicated system?
Forget the right answer. Without so much as a cursory interview, Bloomberg signed off on giving the job to a mope who had worked for the city's child protective agency, who had left that job to become a consultant to the payroll project, who set his sights on running the whole shebang - and who then hired a pal, another child protective agency mope, as a quality control consultant.
Soon enough, that very good $60 million idea was an $800 million nightmare, mope No. 2 had awarded up to $80 million in contracts to associates, and, according to prosecutors, had reaped $25 million in kickbacks.
One person got suspicious - and it wasn't the mayor or controller. Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez began highlighting the scope of the boondoggle as well as taking note of what seemed enormous consulting fees.
Bloomberg was, ahem, not pleased. But his irritation was misplaced. The target was Gonzalez, when it should have been mope No. 1, Joel Bondy, who held onto his job until after the Manhattan U.S. attorney and Department of Investigation blew the scandal wide open.
Said Bloomberg: "The issue is that here we had somebody that we trusted, or one of our contractors trusted and that trust was misplaced."
Uh, uh. The issue was that Bloomberg blew it, big time.
Indeed, Bloomberg did blow it big time.
And now he must be held accountable for blowing it big time.
But even worse than his failing to shut off the cash spigot for the CityTime crooks long after it was obvious something funky was going on with CityTime, even worse than his insisting that the very CityTime consultants who were arrested for stealing $80 million be given a contract extension or he would hold back city employee paychecks, even worse than all this was Bloomberg's decision to to target the journalist who revealed the mess rather than the crooks who were stealing the money.
He MUST be held accountable for that as well.
Why was Bloomberg targeting Gonzalez for his wrath rather than the CityTime crooks?
In what world does this make sense?
After all, doesn't Bloomberg frame himself as the no-nonsense, pragmatic businessman who makes sure that city finances run right?
Shouldn't he making sure city consultants arn'te stealing $80 million dollars rather than targeting a journalist who pointed the way toward the $80 million theft?
As City Councilman Jumaane Williams said yesterday "We need you to do what you said you could do, which is manage finances."
And that's exactly what Bloomberg WASN'T doing.