A city committee has paved the way for the Parks Department to come to terms with the Friends of the High Line on a ten-year, noncompetitive deal for the group to get exclusive rights to sell food and merchandise at the newly-opened park. And now City Controller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson is crying foul, saying, "It almost appears to be some sort of back-room deal." Founders of the Friends of the High Line have already given endorsements to Mayor Bloomberg and board members have contributed over $100,000 to Speaker Christine Quinn. Thompson added, "We should not let the beauty of the park overshadow our obligation to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the operation and use of a public park.” A spokesman for the mayor calls Thompson's comments "politically transparent," noting that he has backed similar deals at other parks and that unlike Bloomberg, Thompson has taken contributions from private groups that conduct business with the city.