The Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation hauled Mayor Bloomberg to New York State Supreme Court today for failing to reappoint or replace eight of eleven commissioners to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The commissioners’ terms have expired, which, the Committee alleges, violates the Administrative Code and the City Charter.
The Writ of Mandamus seeks to force Mayor Bloomberg to reappoint or replace commissioners whose terms have lapsed. “Mayor Bloomberg has failed to honor is own campaign promise to the people of New York,” the filing claims. “The Landmarks Commission should be, in his words, part of the City’s ‘top management and organization,’ and it is essential that the Mayor show the Commission respect and support by making timely appointments of ‘great people’ at the top.”
The Committee was formed in May to address increasing concerns that the Landmarks Preservation commissioners lack independence and are vulnerable to pressures from the mayor and developers. It claims, too, that Landmarks Commission practices thwart the City Council’s advice and consent powers and strips the public of its right to comment on the performance of the Commission and its appointees.
The suit, of course, comes less than a month after Tom Wolfe described the Landmarks Commission as a “bureau of the walking dead” in a blistering New York Times op-ed piece. “Landmarking no longer exists in New York City,” Wolfe lamented. He told the tale of Anthony Tung, a commissioner who crossed Mayor Koch over plans for a Lucullan restaurant in Bryant Park and was fired from his post five days later.
We think it’s strange that the filing cites a campaign promise – who, after all, takes campaign promises seriously? And we’re not really sure that reappointing commissioners with lapsed terms will really make a difference. Unless, of course, another Anthony Tung comes along and there's a public outcry loud enough for pols to doubt their electability.