I've got a story running today that provides a glimpse into how Byron Brown and Steve Casey are leaning on the City Hall work force to work on the mayor's re-election campaign.
But before I get into the details, I want to ask city workers to contact me with any information they can provide how how the game is being played. I'm hearing all kinds of hair-raising stuff, but it's hard to differentiate the beef from the baloney. I need more intelligence.
Please send me an e-mail at email@example.com, but do it from your private account. Please provide details and a cell or home phone number. I will treat your e-mail in the strictest of confidence; I haven't burned a source in 35 years and am not about to do so now.
Back to the story: Tanya Perrin-Johnson, who Brown appointed commissioner of community services when he took office in 2006, has sent out a series of e-mails to about 20 members of her staff making it clear that she expects them to work on the mayor's re-election campaign.
Here's what she sent on June 2:
Subject: Volunteer opportunities to Re-elect Mayor Byron W. Brown
Community Services Team:
I sent an email regarding volunteer opportunities to assist in the re-election of Mayor Byron W. Brown on Monday and this is a follow-up with updated information.
This week, your help is needed at the campaign headquarters from 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm. Wednesday-Friday.
Again, select either Saturday or Sunday for a 4 hour block to volunteer your time.
Please make sure you sign in and that you work until 9:00 pm during the week and minimally 4 hours on the weekend. Your services are needed minimally 8 hours per week.
"Campaign hours on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) are from 10:00 am - 9 pm.
Next week, Tuesday, June 9th, everyone is expected to be at the Headquarters after work ; a 4:00 pm, 4:30 pm or 5 pm until 9 pm. This is a busy day as it is the first official day for petitions. There is a lot of work to be done and your help is needed.
From that point on, Community Services team will be at Headquarters on Tuesday until 9:00 pm where you will receive your assignment. If you are unable to volunteer on that Tuesday or a weekend, please notify myself and Dana Bobinchek at the email above and accommodations will be made for you to make up the time during the week.
Due to the importance and volume of activity, it is important that that we all contribute to the re-election of Mayor Byron W. Brown. Also, recruit friends and family to assist.
Please respond that you have received this e-mail. Let me know the days and times you will work this week. If I don't hear from you by Wednesday, I will contact you.
Not much left to read between the lines, huh? I mean, if you get that e-mail from your boss, you're showing up to do campaign work, right?
As Blair Horner of NYPRIG put it, the e-mails are indicative of "an inherently coercive relationship between employer and employee, supervisor and subordinate."
PS: "If it's not illegal, it should be."
Perrin-Johnson didn't' stop with that e-mail, but has followed up with a number of other ditties, which I detail in my story.
Long story short, this is a no-no under the city charter, and perhaps under the city ethics code.
Yes, you can lean on appointees who serve at the pleasure of the mayor, and some of those receiving the e-mails fit that category. But you have to leave the rank and file alone, and they, too, have been targeted.
What I find surprising isn't that the Brown people are putting the arm to employees, but that they're sloppy enough to put it in writing.
And the mayor's crew can't claim this is one commissioner who is operating off the reservation, not when Dana Bobinchek, one of the mayor's top aides, is copied on the e-mails.
Again, no surprise.
Keep in mind that Casey and Bobinchek were on Brown's Senate payroll back in 2005 during the mayoral campaign. Casey, in particular, worked day and night on the campaign while claiming to also put in an honest day's work in the Senate job.
We are now to believe that he's sticking to his duties as deputy mayor 9 to 5. Not that he's willing to talk about it.
Others are talking, however. Among what I'm hearing is that Casey and Steve Pigeon are keeping hours at campaign HQ on nights and weekends, when the King of Coups isn't in Albany advising Pedro Espada.