As if heeding the Pope’s call, the New York Times has published a new series, titled Invisible Child, on inequality and homelessness in New York City, focusing on the story of Dasani, a 12-year-old homeless child. The series is a remarkable piece of reporting, insightful and moving in its portrayal of Dasani and her family, exhaustively researched, and incisive in its analysis of the larger context of economic inequality in New York City. The longform style allows for many illuminating moments that cannot be neatly summarized, so you should read the whole thing for yourself.
The stuff that we usually focus on here at Eyes on the Ties – the power structure and policy implicated by the story – gets relatively minimal treatment in the series. Invisible Child is clearly framed as a commentary on Bloomberg’s New York, from the choice of Dasani, who was born shortly before Bloomberg took office, to anecdotes like the following:
New York State governor Andrew Cuomo has gotten a major assist during his first year and a half in office from an outside lobbying group known as the Committee to Save New York, a coalition of corporate elites that advocates for austerity policies and specializes in taking to the airwaves to heap praise on the governor and his agenda. Despite making a massive lobbying blitz in 2011 and being an extremely powerful political force in New York State, the Committee has refused to disclose its donors and will not be required to disclose its past donors by New York’s ethics commission, raising questions about who, exactly, is backing the group and funding what the New York Times has referred to as Cuomo’s “secret slush fund.” This being the sort of group we love to dig into here at LittleSis/PAI, we have done extensive research and recently published our findings in the report “The Committee to Save 1% NY.”
At least one controversial policy fight gave a fundraising boost to Cuomo’s Committee in 2011. According to the New York Times, the casino gambling industry donated millions to the Committee at the same time Cuomo was shaping his stance on casino gambling legalization. The Cuomo administration reportedly urged casino industry lobbyists to route large contributions to the Committee, which subsequently ran ads praising the governor. The Cuomo administration and the Committee had long denied coordinating, but reversed this claim in the wake of the Times bombshell, possibly after a blitz of untraceable Blackberry messages.
Has the fracking controversy provided a similar fundraising opportunity for Cuomo and his Committee? New York State enacted a moratorium on fracking in 2010 and is currently in the process of deciding whether to allow the controversial practice. The Cuomo administration has signaled that it will allow fracking in some areas of the state, and at least one fracker’s son is certain that Governor Cuomo has seen through the “smoke and mirrors” of the anti-fracking movement and is set to come down on the side of industry.