Bloomberg's Sin of Omission - NBC New York

Bloomberg's Sin of Omission

The mayor needs to come clean when a top aide resigns following a domestic violence



    Bloomberg's Sin of Omission
    Stephen Goldsmith, the former deputy mayor for operations at City Hall, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg appear in happier times in this file photo.

    He’s the chief executive of New York.  But he’s also, it appears, the chief censor.

    That’s why Mayor Mike Bloomberg took it upon himself to guard the people against learning that his Deputy Mayor for Operations, Stephen Goldsmith, had been arrested in Washington D.C., for domestic  violence. Not only did Bloomberg make a false announcement that Goldsmith had resigned August 4th so he could pursue “private-sector opportunities.” He withheld the fact that Goldsmith had been arrested for domestic violence.        

    Actually, Goldsmith was arrested by Washington police, after his wife, Margaret, charged him with smashing a phone and grabbing her as she tried to call police. He was jailed for two days, then released after his wife dropped the charges.

    Bloomberg admitted later that Goldsmith’s domestic violence arrest was the main reason he forced him to resign. The mayor defended his failure to reveal  that Goldsmith had been charged with committing domestic violence.

    Bloomberg Defends Goldsmith Arrest Silence

    [NY] Bloomberg Defends Decision To Withhold Explanation for Goldsmith's Resignation
    Mayor Bloomberg finally faced the media. After days of ducking questions about why he hid the real reason for the resignation of his deputy mayor Stephen Goldsmith. Bloomberg was insistent, if not indignant that his decisions were appropriate. NBC New York?s Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo has the story.
    (Published Monday, Sept. 5, 2011)

    “I make no apologies for either the fact that Mr. Goldsmith had left city government or for treating the Goldsmith family with basic decency.” He added: ”I believe as an employer that employers have a responsibility to treat employees with some consideration. That’s how I built my business and that’s how I run this government.”

    It raises a delicate question:  Does the mayor have the right to censor the facts involving a sensitive matter? Bloomberg has a duty, as does every mayor, to make public all information relating to critical issues. Clearly that’s not the way he sees it.

    But New York Times analyst Clyde Haberman calls what the mayor does “translucence” -- not transparency. He has a tendency, says Haberman, to shoot himself in the foot. And Haberman points out that another city employee who was accused of harassing his wife by phone, a school safety agent, was swiftly identified.

    Deputy Mayor Quit Over Domestic Bust: Wife

    [NY] Deputy Mayor Quit Over Domestic Bust: Wife
    Former Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith resigned last month not over his botched handling of the Christmas blizzard that paralyzed the city, but because of a domestic violence incident that led to his arrest, his wife says. Melissa Russo reports.
    (Published Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011)

    No hesitancy at City Hall about that. There seems to be a double standard here.

    Yet Hank Sheinkopf, a political strategist  who watches City Hall, thinks the mayor has some justification for the way he’s handled this matter. “He didn’t do anything wrong,” he told me, “All he did was select the wrong guy {Goldsmith] for the wrong job. There was no cover up. I’m perplexed why he should be blamed for trying to protect his employee against unfair criticism.”

    In the Book of James in the New Testament are the words: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

    By not revealing the whole truth about the Goldsmith case, Bloomberg did wrong. The mayor has no right to suppress the truth or parcel it out. It’s good for a chief executive to be loyal to his employees but he is an employee too. His employers are the people of New York -- and he has no right to give them half-truths on important issues.

    The sins of omission, indeed, are as great as the sins of commission.