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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Document Dump Tries to Sneak Bloomberg Aides' Special Treatment for Ground Zero Mosque By Skeptical Press Corps

Embarrassing press releases are often scheduled on Friday afternoons or on the day before long weekends in order to catch a slow news cycle, so that by the time the news media is back in "full gear" the embarrassing news is old and has been replaced by fresher, new embarrassments.  However, the Bloomberg administration may have embarrassed itself, by trying to hide this and being revealed for doing so. 

The latest example of this hide-the-cheese strategy comes courtesy of the Bloomberg administration regarding its extreme support for the "Ground Zero mosque" project.

On Thursday, December 23rd, the Bloomberg administration -- trying to sneak a document dump while most of the city and nation are Christmas shopping or preparing for the holiday -- released e-mails showing it went to "great lengths" to help the Ground Zero mosque's planners.  However, it did not do so voluntarily.  It released these e-mails only after the organization Judicial Watch reportedly went to court seeking to enforce its New York State Freedom of Information Law request for the e-mails, after the request had been ignored for months.

Don't accept the excuse that the timing was the product of a court order; there hasn't been any such order.  (Crime, Politics and Policy is unable to confirm that an order to show cause or similar action was even filed, pursuant to its own search of court records, and hence is relying on and assuming the accuracy of the press reports to which links are provided in this article.)  Even when compelled to do so by a court, a party responding to a lawsuit often has a deadline to comply...but has the ability to choose when to make a release at any time prior to the deadline.  The Bloomberg Administration chose to delay complying with the Freedom of Information Law request in the first place, then ignored it; even after the court action was initiated, the City still controlled when it produced the e-mails. 

To be clear, the City of New York chose the timing for the release of the e-mails.  In fact, I believe the City chose to pre-empt any court order by releasing the embarrassing e-mails at a time considered most optimal for the Bloomberg Administration -- and not coincidentally, to take advantage of the pre-Christmas slow news cycle in the hope that this issue would be "old news" by the time everyone returns to work next week.  

The delay in releasing the e-mails has a greater significance.  It means that the City ignored the law in order to avoid (and thus was fully aware of) the negative publicity, or did so out of a disregard for the law.  That just raises further questions as to why the Bloomberg Administration is so proactively behind this project. 

Crime, Politics and Policy -- and yours truly -- theorized in August 2010 that the Bloomberg Administration's support for the mosque (aka Park51, Cordoba Institute) and pulling strings for it and its backers amounted to unconstitutional special treatment in violation of the First Amendment clause that Congress shall make no law "respecting the establishment of religion."

We have further theorized that the backers are just interested in greenmail -- in other words, something analogous to blackmail but with the motive being that of getting one's desired price. 

The Bloomberg administration's support of the Ground Zero mosque project is also curious, given the checkered past of Sharif El-Gamal (whose company, Soho Properties, has gone into strategic default and been sued by Citi) and of Imam Abdul Rauf (who has been characterized by some press reports as a slumlord for neglecting his Union City, NJ multi-family property), and the recent revelation that they are seeking federal, special 9/11 recovery funding for their development of the Islamic cultural center.  Some even charge that the mosque backers are just globalist stooges, fronting for some as-yet-unrevealed cause.

Here's the lesson for observers:  Whether in business, personal or political affairs, the decision about which cause and which people to support or associate with shows one's judgment.  This judgment demonstrates not only one's priorities and decisions, but also one's procedures and processes. 

The embarrassing details coming out about the mosque backers indicate that the Bloomberg administration is either woefully incapable of doing basic investigative due diligence on the backers of a high-profile and emotionally-sensitive project...or that it simply did not care. 

Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer and strategist.  Mr. Dixon provides legal advice and strategic analysis on legal, business, political, economic and personal affairs through Eric Dixon LLC.   Mr. Dixon also provides litigation stress counseling for lawsuit defendants.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation, and welcomes your inquiries, at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.


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