[Marxism] Ruling class nepotism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jul 20 08:12:21 MDT 2010


NY Times July 19, 2010
To Get an Internship at City Hall, It’s Not Always What You Know
By DAVID W. CHEN and MICHAEL BARBARO

They are the children and relatives of boldface names, like Lloyd 
C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs; Peter G. 
Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group; and Laurence A. 
Tisch, who was a hotel mogul and chief executive of CBS.

They enjoyed a comfortable childhood and, as it turns out, a 
coveted summer job: They all landed internships at New York’s City 
Hall under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, according to a list 
obtained by The New York Times through the Freedom of Information Act.

Of course, it is not unusual for young people with connections to 
win choice internships in all kinds of workplaces. But the records 
offer a glimpse inside the social and power circles of the 
Bloomberg administration, which has accommodated dozens of young 
people with connections to the mayor’s friends, business 
associates and government appointees for the prestigious, if 
unpaid, slots.

Take Jacob Doctoroff, whose father, Daniel L. Doctoroff, was 
deputy mayor and is now the president of Bloomberg L.P. He had an 
internship in 2002. He was in the eighth grade.

“It was either that or going to summer camp,” Jacob Doctoroff said 
in an interview. Now at Yale, he recalled enjoying his stint at 
the mayor’s office of management information systems. “I 
truthfully couldn’t tell you how I got the internship,” he said. 
“But you’d be working with a bunch of 35- to 45-year-olds, and you 
didn’t have a sense that you were in an internship program.”

The mayor’s office is not eager to share information about who 
gets the internships and took three months to furnish the list, 
after the Freedom of Information Act request and repeated 
follow-up messages. Stu Loeser, a mayoral spokesman, emphasized 
that the internships awarded to relatives of insiders was a tiny 
fraction of the almost 1,500 that have been awarded since Mr. 
Bloomberg took office.

He said a vast majority of the students were recruited through job 
fairs, online applications or school programs. The children of at 
least two employees of The Times have also had internships during 
the Bloomberg years.

Still, one in five of those selected are recommended from someone 
employed by the administration, Mr. Loeser said.

And Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris appears to carry some clout 
over selections.

Consider the Freedman family.

Nina P. Freedman graduated from the Fieldston School the same year 
as Ms. Harris, in 1973, and the two served as bridesmaids in a 
friend’s 1988 wedding. Her sister, Susan K. Freedman, worked with 
Ms. Harris at the New York City Arts Commission, and is now 
president of the Public Art Fund, where she has helped Ms. Harris 
promote projects like Olafur Eliasson’s “Waterfalls.” Her husband, 
Richard, officiated at Ms. Harris’s wedding.

Susan Freedman’s son Aaron landed City Hall internships in 2007 
and 2009; another son, David, had one in 2009. Nina Freedman’s 
daughter, Leah, won a slot in 2008.

Lydia Leinsdorf, a granddaughter of Erich Leinsdorf, the 
conductor, was living with her family in the same Fifth Avenue 
building as Ms. Harris when she landed her internship in the 
summer of 2002, before she entered Princeton.

Asked whether she played any role in internships being awarded to 
the Freedmans or Ms. Leinsdorf or anyone else, Ms. Harris declined 
to respond. Asked about Ms. Harris’s involvement, Mr. Loeser said, 
“Lots of people at City Hall are approached about internships and 
recommend promising young people they’ve met.”

In a 2002 opinion that allowed Ms. Bloomberg’s daughter, Emma, to 
work as an unpaid adviser, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board. 
declared that “although Ms. Bloomberg will not be compensated by 
the city for her work, the opportunity to work in City Hall 
confers prestige as well as experience that is not widely 
available and that many would regard as valuable.”

Luke Russert, son of Tim Russert, the “Meet the Press” host who 
died in 2008, was an intern at City Hall during summer 2007. In an 
interview, Mr. Russert said that he juggled two internships that 
summer — one at the mayor’s office, the other at NBC, working for 
Conan O’Brien.

Mr. Russert, then a senior at Boston College, worked for Deputy 
Mayor Kevin Sheekey, who befriended his father after both worked 
for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Mr. Russert researched 
gun-control positions of Republican lawmakers who wanted to meet 
with Mr. Bloomberg. “It was really worthwhile,” he said. “It was 
not just opening letters and getting coffee.”

Asked what role his connections played in landing the job, he 
said: “I don’t really know about that. I went through the 
application process like anyone else.”

Louisa Aviles, the daughter of Alan D. Aviles, president of the 
city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, was an intern in 2007 in 
the Community Affairs Unit, which fields complaints from community 
groups.

She said she found out about the internship through her school, 
the University of Pennsylvania. “It had nothing to do with my 
dad,” she said, adding that her family ties only came up once, 
when her boss asked if she was Mr. Aviles’s daughter.

Career counselors view the internships, which are primarily summer 
stints, as plum résumé enhancers. The application process is 
somewhat informal. Some offices recruit their own interns; others 
take from a general pool of applicants.

The individuals who screen applicants, Mr. Loeser said, “weigh 
academic majors, areas of interest, G.P.A.’s sometimes, skills and 
relevant job experience.”

“Recommendations from people who know the applicant’s abilities 
and work ethic are a factor,” he added, “but only one factor.”

This year, more than 450 students vied for 152 positions.

To be sure, elected officials, including Mr. Bloomberg’s 
predecessor, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, have long hired the 
children of their friends, campaign donors and political allies as 
interns or full-paid staff.

But the mayor has made his distaste for nepotism clear. In 2004, 
he criticized the state system for appointing judges, saying it 
“allows party leaders to dictate hiring decisions based on party 
connections — or family connections — and not on merit.”

And the Conflicts of Interest Board has routinely circulated a 
memorandum about summer internships, urging employees to “resist 
natural parental instincts” and refrain from forwarding the names 
or résumés of their children to any city agency.

Most of those awarded internships are college or graduate 
students. But there are exceptions: Amy Secunda is the daughter of 
Thomas F. Secunda, one of the co-founders of Bloomberg L.P. She 
was an intern in 2008, as a high school student from 
Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. Her family did not return calls for comment.

Another high school intern was Alexander Blankfein, Mr. 
Blankfein’s son. He worked for six weeks in 2003, records show, 
when he was still a student at Fieldston, and before he enrolled 
at Harvard. He declined to comment.

The roster has also included grandchildren and stepchildren of 
people with ties to Mr. Bloomberg and his friends, including the 
grandson of Robert A. Caro, chronicler of Robert Moses, and the 
stepson of Neil Simon, the playwright, who endorsed Mr. Bloomberg 
last fall.

At the annual Gracie Mansion barbecues held for the interns, some 
students noticed a clubby atmosphere, where the mayor would joke 
about how the interns were making only $1 less than he was.

“You’d get a lot of interns who said that their aunt was on the 
board of something, or that their relatives worked for city 
government,” said Hayley Kucich, a Bryn Mawr graduate from Long 
Island who had internships in 2005 and 2006.

Fernanda Santos contributed reporting, and Toby Lyles contributed 
research.




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