De Blasio rewards allies, angry clergy
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's inaugural committee does more than just allow campaign donors to ante up one last time before he takes office.
It also allows de Blasio to express thanks to the taxi industry for their prodigious campaign fundraising, and to make amends to Catholics and Hasidim for their exclusion from the mayor-elect's 60-person transition team.
On Saturday, the mayor-elect released the even longer list of appointments to his inaugural committee.
Among the celebrities (Russell Simmons, Sarah Jessica Parker), the union leaders (George Gresham, Estela Vasquez), and the real estate types (Steve Witkoff, Don Peebles), the list also includes a couple of taxi-industry veterans, including Fidel del Valle, Dinkins' taxi commissioner and the attorney for the Greater New York Taxi Association, which opposes both the borough taxi and Taxi of Tomorrow programs.
Also on the list: Matt Daus, the Windels Marx partner, the former Giuliani and Bloomberg taxi commissioner, and the president of the the International Association of Transportation Regulators, which advocates for the stricter regulation of taxi apps.
"I think it's a combination of my friendship with him over the years, his involvement with the group," he said, referring to the New Era Democrats, the political club he chairs.
"And I raised money for him, there's no secret," he went on. "I had a fundraiser at my firm, and we had every business small medium large known to man in every industry and we had a lot of grassroots people, people that are members of my political group, people that are just on the street, small volunteers. We have no expectations other than the fact that we want to help him succeed and become the best mayor possible."
The inaugural committee serves other purposes too.
In October, when de Blasio unveiled a 60-person transition team that included no Catholic priests, the Catholic League's Bill Donahue sent out an angry email to the press pointing out that "Catholics make up 52.5 percent of New York, yet they have no clergy representation."
And, though de Blasio took pains to court the frum, there were no Hasidim on the transition team.
"Chassidim Don’t Make The Cut; DeBlasio’s Transition Team Announced," read the Yeshiva World headline.
The inaugural committee includes members from both groups.
In addition to his taxi industry work, Del Valle is the president of Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services.
Joining him on the committee are Monsignor Jamie J. Gigantiello of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and Rabbi Heshie Dembitzer, of the Bobover Yeshiva B’nai Zion.
A spokesperson for de Blasio's transition didn't respond to a request for comment. ￼