De Blasio Appoints Brooklyn Lawyer And Campaign Donor As New DOT Commissioner


Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s Transportation Commissioner for practically seven years, Polly Trottenberg, left the administration in December for a place in Washington because the second in command on the U.S. Division of Transportation, working alongside newly-confirmed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig.

On Wednesday, the mayor introduced Trottenberg’s alternative: Hank Gutman, the chair of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, who has scant expertise within the transportation subject.

Gutman did serve on a panel charged with reviewing plans to repair a crumbling part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. He’s additionally on the board of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and has additionally been a dependable marketing campaign donor to the mayor, giving $14,475 to de Blasio through the 2013 and 2017 campaigns, in addition to $3,800 to his failed presidential run.

“We have now an opportunity to show a brand new path for this metropolis. One which leaves Robert Moses’s imaginative and prescient behind, beats again COVID-19, protects the environment. And builds a good, secure, and equitable restoration for all of us,” Gutman mentioned at a press convention with the mayor on Wednesday.

A Metropolis Corridor press launch saying Gutman’s appointment cited his bonafides as a 45-year Brooklyn resident and “retired Accomplice of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP, the place he headed the Mental Property Observe Group from 1996 till his current retirement.” Gutman can be a trustee of Brooklyn Public Library.

None of those {qualifications} level to deep expertise operating a metropolis company with greater than 5,000 workers and an annual finances of $900,0000.

“I’ve seen Hank get outcomes. I’ve seen him take care of very thorny conditions and actually robust group dynamics and discover frequent floor and transfer an agenda ahead, however all the time with a pointy fairness lens,” de Blasio mentioned on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Workplace mentioned that Gutman’s donations didn’t play a task in his appointment.

Gutman shall be charged with overseeing the final 11 months of the mayor’s transportation agenda, which incorporates including 10,000 new bike racks all through town, “doubling down” on open streets and open eating places, and including two bike lanes on the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridges.

Gutman may even should grapple with the challenges of the mayor’s Imaginative and prescient Zero plan to eradicate site visitors fatalities. In 2020, general site visitors fatalities elevated for the second 12 months in a row.

De Blasio advised reporters that the present interim DOT Commissioner, Margaret Forgione, who’s labored for DOT because the Nineteen Nineties, didn’t need the highest job. The mayor insisted that Gutman was in good fingers, due to deputies like Forgione and Jee Mee Kim.

“We will use each minute of the following 11 months to get lots finished,” de Blasio mentioned.

At the least one advocacy group for safer streets mentioned they supported Gutman’s appointment.

“Mayor de Blasio should ensure our streets are a pathway to restoration throughout his closing 12 months in workplace, and Hank Gutman is a robust selection to guide NYC DOT throughout this crucial second. We congratulate Commissioner Gutman on his appointment,” Transportation Options Government Director Danny Harris wrote in an announcement.

Whereas the Riders Alliance didn’t touch upon Gutman particularly, it issued an announcement centered on the problems dealing with the brand new commissioner.

“Mayor de Blasio should put his new group to work on bus lanes and busways to honor important employees and repair longtime inequities. He ought to construct on Polly Trottenberg’s legacy and end sturdy with one other 30 bus lane miles earlier than leaving Metropolis Corridor,” Riders Alliance organizing supervisor Stephanie Burgos-Veras wrote in an announcement. “The Streets Grasp Plan legislation requires 30 new bus lane miles annually beginning subsequent 12 months. Mayor de Blasio and his transportation officers ought to put riders first at each flip and design the equitable streets New Yorkers want proper now.”