Bill de Blasio has two transition teams.
There's the public one, announced in late November. It's a diverse, 60-person assortment of nonprofit leaders, political types, educators, rabbis, Cynthia Nixon. More than half of its members are de Blasio donors.
Then there's another team, a nonprofit group whose participation in the process has never been announced, but which has been playing a substantial role in organizing the transition.
According to a source involved with the transition, this involved entity—Civic Consulting USA—has "embedded" into the process a team drawn from the "creme de la creme of the big New York consultants." This group has shaped the process by organizing the original transition team into a number of topic-specific committees and then bringing in an even greater number of other people onto those committees to participate in the search for future administration members.
The involvement of those new people, like the role of the consultants, was never announced.
In response to an inquiry by Capital, de Blasio spokeswoman Lis Smith confirmed the group's involvement, but described it in a strictly supporting role.
"Transition co-chairs Carl Weisbrod and Jennifer Jones Austin, along with Transition Executive Director Laura Santucci and Deputy Executive Director Ursulina Ramirez are running the transition," she said. "The core committee is providing the transition with important advice and counsel. Civic Consulting USA is also helping the transition on a pro-bono basis. They are one piece of the great team we’ve put together to build the next administration and recruit great talent to serve the people of New York City."
Smith declined to go into more specifics about the group's participation, and declined to comment on the existence of the newly formed subcommittees.
And just who suggested de Blasio put this secret "non-profit" group into positions of power within his transition team?
Why, Rahm Emanuel - of course!
According to the transition source, Civic Consulting USA was suggested to de Blasio's aides during a November meeting between de Blasio and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel's staff suggested that de Blasio's transition team enlist the help of the group, whose mission is to pair government clients with partners in the private and nonprofit sector.
Civic Consulting USA president Michael Hickey told Capital the group was "inspired by the pioneering work done by the Civic Consulting Alliance in Chicago."
For its part, the Civic Consulting Alliance in Chicago paired management consultants from companies like Deloitte, Bain & Company, Accenture and McKinsey & Company with Emanuel to help guide his own transition into office.
The transition cannot accept corporate contributions, so Civic Consulting is working for the transition team via an agreement with the city, according to Smith.
And just what does this "non-profit" get from "loaning" out its talent to the government to work in secret?
"Loaned professionals return energized with a renewed commitment to their companies" and they develop new skills. Also, "positive PR."
Sure - and the policies they wanted implemented because their own people do the implementing or contracts from the city:
Emanuel's relationship with the Civic Consulting Alliance generated significant attention in Chicago, not all of it positive.
"The alliance was a key player in Emanuel's 2011 transition to office," reported the Chicago Tribune last December. "As part of its role, the group brought in Accenture, one of the world's largest financial consulting firms, to provide free advice to the new administration. The company subsequently received a no-bid contract from the Emanuel administration that pays it a percentage of every dollar saved on other City Hall contracts."
A spokesman for Emanuel had no comment.
Bloomberg, btw, has just put together his own non-profit consulting group to "help" municipalities around the country and the world with governance issues.
Also, Bloomberg Philanthropies is a part funder of the "non-profit" consulting group de Blasio is using:
Outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg has routinely talked of the benefits that non-bureaucrats can bring to city governance, and in fact Civic Consulting USA lists Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of its funders.
And, in Bloombergian fashion, its website touts the benefits that non-governmental expertise can bring to "government clients": "We bring together teams who are better coordinated, longer term, and more talented than they could afford, attract, or manage otherwise—at no cost to the taxpayer."
With de Blaiso using for his transition team the same "non-profit" Rahm Emanuel used in Chicago, one that is partly funded by Bloomberg, I'm starting to think that the Official Song of the De Blasio Administration should be The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.