De Blasio gives taxi fund-raiser a job regulating taxis
Bill de Blasio raised prodigious amounts of money from the taxi industry during his run for mayor. Now, one of the consultants who helped him raise money from that industry is helping him regulate it.
The de Blasio campaign paid Izabella Vais nearly $50,000 between December 2011 and December 2013 for fund-raising, campaign consulting and professional services, at the same time she was earning $80,000 a year as a staffer in de Blasio's public advocate's office, according to public records.
Ultimately, the mayor raised more than $350,000 from taxi interests, while championing the industry's fight against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to bring green taxi service to the outer boroughs. Several sources in the taxi industry told Capital that Vais was a point person handling donations.
The City Record indicates the mayor appointed Vais, who formerly worked for Marty Markowitz and Noach Dear, to a $78,000-a-year position in the Department of Citywide Administrative Services on Feb. 2. That was just a holding spot.
She has since been named an assistant commissioner for policy and intergovernmental affairs at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the agency charged with regulating New York City's fractious, litigious, and monied taxi industry.
A mayoral spokesman said the appointment was made based on Vais' qualifications.
"Bella Vais has over two decades of experience in New York City government, having worked for the City Council, Brooklyn Borough President and Public Advocate," said de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell, in a statement. "She understands the Mayor's priorities and agenda for this city and will help T.L.C. execute that vision, from expanding accessibility to improving taxi safety."
The arrangement struck one good-government advocate as less than ideal.
"You want people running the T.L.C. who understand the business, but you also want someone who will be guided by the issue and not influenced by donor relationships," said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union. "It is troubling that she now has a job at the commission having raised money from the very industry that the T.L.C. regulates."