Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration suffered a blow today with the release of emails surrounding the selection process of Cathie Black, the one-time schools chancellor who was forced to resign in 2011, after just 95 days in office. Ms. Black, who had no prior educational experience, drew widespread controversy amid a number of missteps. The city fought an extended, unsuccessful legal battle to keep the emails from being subject to a Freedom of Information Law request.
Overall, they detail the city’s public relations efforts to improve Ms. Black’s brand, including outreach to leading female figures like Caroline Kennedy for support. Additionally, the emails reveal debates over how much information about Ms. Black should be provided to reporters.
For example, Harlem Village Academies CEO Deborah Kenny appeared to question a disclosure decision of a screening for Waiting for Superman, a movie accused critics accused of being anti-public education.
“Edit seems fine. One question: are we sure we want to omit hosting the Superman screening?” she asked. “They have been asking for information on involvement as well as donations. Since almost 200 people attended, they will probably find out anyway.”
Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department, said she was “disappointed” by today’s decision.
“The City believes that the principles permitting government employees to exchange opinions, advice and criticism freely and frankly, without the chilling prospect of public disclosure, should extend to individuals who have been elected or selected to public office but have not yet assumed office,” she said in a statement.
View the emails below: