From the Village Voice:
Shortly after his re-election in November 2005, Mike Bloomberg decided to raise his national profile several notches. He began traveling widely, making speeches and accepting awards. We later learned this was mostly about setting the stage for a potential run for president. He ultimately passed on that race, without giving up hope that he might get lucky next time. But one of the interesting features of this publicity push was that—despite his own fabulous wealth—the mayor wasn't shy about using city resources to promote his image.
Starting in February 2006, the Bloomberg administration began assigning a team of video camera operators from the city's television station—NYC-TV—to follow the mayor on his far-flung voyages. The mayor flew on his private jet; the city crews followed behind on commercial airlines.
At taxpayer expense, city workers traveled to Shanghai, Beijing, Bali, Paris, London, Mexico City, Belfast, Berlin, and Jerusalem. They also covered his cross-country jaunts to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. The crews shot the mayor as well as he made his less glamorous, workaday trips to Washington and Albany.
This fascinating footage was then routed back home for use by local commercial television stations seeking to show viewers their mayor in action. The tapes also aired on one of the city's TV stations, where they ran in endless loops, similar to the way leaders are promoted in places like North Korea. Much of it was also posted for posterity on the mayor's website...
The Voice was hoping to bring this information to readers much earlier. The subject of the mayoral video teams was raised last spring by NYC-TV employees complaining how their agency was being used as a playpen for the mayor and his pals. Their complaints were sparked by a wide-ranging scandal, broken by the Voice, in which top executives at the station—all Bloomberg appointees—were forced out after they were caught abusing their posts; the financial director was arrested when it turned out he had taken advantage of his boss's frequent absences to steal some $60,000.
A Freedom of Information request for travel and expense records was filed last May. As requests go, this one was standard, plain vanilla. But DOITT officials instantly said it would take six months to compile. Why six months? Heavy traffic in the FOI department, they said. This also conveniently ensured that the information wouldn't be available until after voters had decided on the mayor's third term bid in November. Even then, six months stretched into nine. The documents finally emerged a couple weeks ago, after a lawyer was retained to get the agency's attention.
About 10 years ago, we would have expected to read this story in the NY Times.
Today, instead of corruption inside City Hall, they spend their time writing about a cracked driveway outside of it.