Friday, January 10, 2014

Parks Commish Veronica White Lands Job With Bloomberg After Lobbying Efforts To Stay Failed

Park Commissioner Veronica White (center) flanked by Deputy Parks Commissioner (and former Bloomberg re-election political operative) Larry Scott Blackmon  (L) and First Deputy Commissioner for Parks Liam Kavanagh at a City Council Hearing in September 2013.  Mr. Kavanagh has been Acting Parks Commissioner since Ms. White's departure on December 31st.  (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

"We have a great operating budget,"  Veronica White embarrassingly testified at the hearing.


Parks Commissioner Veronica White quietly left the agency on December 31 and landed a job at Bloomberg L.P. after lobbying efforts to stay on failed NYC Park Advocates has  learned. 

Sources say Ms. White had attempted to enlist the help of several prominent people including DC 37 head Lillian Roberts to lobby the new administration but those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

No public announcement was made regarding her departure and Ms. White did not send out a customary Broadcast email announcement to all parks employees. Instead she sent an email to upper management on Dec. 31st  thanking them and stating it was her last day according to several park employees.

Ms. White began her employment the following day on Jan. 1 at Bloomberg L. P. as chief of staff to Thomas Secunda, Vice Chairman & Global Head of Financial Products & Services, and a founding partner of Bloomberg L.P. 

"She was more of a figure head,"  said a long-time parks employee of White's sixteen month tenure, and speaking on the condition of condition of anonymity.  

"Liam's been running the agency since Adrian left," the employee said.

First Deputy Commissioner for Parks Liam Kavanagh has also been the Acting Parks Commissioner since Ms. White's departure. 

"We have a great operating budget,"  Veronica White embarrassingly testified In September,  a view consistently shared by Adrain Benepe who was fond of the calling the funding  "robust." 

Ms. White was out on sick leave for several months this spring. 

When her appointment was announced she called the position, "truly the most important and great job that I could ever hope to have."  

When asked what her top priorities and goals were she stressed the need to make sure that all parks in in all boroughs were maintained. 

"As we increase the parkland obviously we have to increase the resources available public and private - especially the private - for each of these parks we are creating as well as the existing parks," she said emphasizing the reliance on private funds.  

Former long-time Parks head Henry Stern complained about her lack of parks background  at the time and compared the situation to Schools Chancellor Catherine Black. 

Veronica applied for the Parks Commissioner job once before,  shortly after Mayor Bloomberg was elected in 2001. 

Before joining the Parks Department White worked for Bloomberg as the first executive director of the mayor's anti-poverty Center for Economic Opportunity a program he created in 2006 that reportedly used $100 million annually in public and private funds.

White is perhaps best known for her controversial anti-poverty ventures, including an initiative to pay poor people to attend parent-teacher conferences and a program to take kids to the dentist.

Ms. White began at Parks' on August 30, 2012 after the position was vacated by Adrain Benepe who held the job from February 4, 2002 to August 29, 2012.

Benepe finally wore out his welcome from the Bloomberg administration and was summarily told to find employment elsewhere according to several City sources.

Benepe landed a job at The Trust for Public Land,  a partner organization in the Mayor's PLANYC Schoolyards To Playgrounds Initiative.  

It is unclear if Mr. Benepe received a waiver from the Mayoral appointed Conflict of Interest Board before joining the organization.  


  1. I do not know what "sources" were polled for this article, but I worked very closely with Commissioner White and never in my career was there a more dedicated hard working and inspirational individual than her! She was hardly a “figure head” and actively involved in everything Parks! She was on “sick” leave for only a few short weeks but on the phone every day with her staff, our agency and City Hall. We need more people like Ms. White in City Government, I will miss her.

  2. Good riddance, and no Adrian did not get a waiver. She was form HPD for goodness sakes, not any open space, but destroying public space was their mission. she was horrible knew nothing but how to be corrupt and smile and shake hands

  3. It's a shame that the two comments above are not mutually consistent, at least to my mind. I guess I'll reserve my historical judgement until after Bronx Parks SpeakUp on Feb.22d at Lehman College, when I hope I'll have a chance to ask Geoffrey Croft what his objectively honest evalution is. I'd suggest Liam for City Commissioner except for the fact that those folks are often replaced. We need Liam as a stabilizing, knowledgeable, efficient forever public servant.

  4. I concur. No tears shed for her hasty departure and all who worked for Bloomberg's park-privatization schemes over the past 12 years. Now let's get rid of the rest of the park privatizers like Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman and the current leadership of the parks dept as the citizens await DeBlasio's choice of Commissioner.