Let's Meet Our Friends at the Committee to Save New York



 The Dim Bulb

The Occasional Musings of an Educator

by Michael Keany

The brain is capable of performing 10 quadrillion (that’s 10 to the 16th) “calculations,” or synaptic events, per second using only about 15 watts of power. At this rate, a computer as powerful as the human brain would require 1 gigawatt of power. Maybe a dim bulb isn't really as dim as it seems.

The photo above is the Livermore Centennial bulb, the world's longest burning electric bulb. 

Number 5

March 16, 2011




Let's Meet Our Friends at the Committee to Save New York


The Committee to Save New York, as you know, consists of nice people trying to save New York State.  Their plan, as least as far as I can tell, is to attack school leaders for making too much money and doing too little.  I think we should get to know some of these people.


Meet Rob Speyer, Founder and Co Chair of The Committee to Save New York



Mr. Speyer is Co-CEO of the real estate firm Tishman Speyer.  Tishman Speyer is one of the leading owners, developers, fund managers and operators of real estate in the world, having managed a portfolio of assets since its inception of more than 77,000,000 square feet (7,200,000 m2) in major metropolitan areas across the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Mr. Speyer seemed to show great promise.  Describe in a NY Times article as a a thin, wiry-haired man with a secret passion for professional wrestling, he held stints as a reporter for two local NYC newspapers.  He once handled dreary leasing assignments as he began to work for Tishman Speyer but he quickly rose to the position of Co-CEO.  You may have noticed that Mr. Speyer coincidently has the same last name of the company for which he works.  That's because his dad, Jerry Speyer is the real CEO of the company.




Rob Speyer, left, and Jerry I. Speyer of Tishman Speyer. 


Well, Rob's stock rose quickly in the company.  His team completed the purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan for $5.4 billion, the largest real estate deal ever.  Wow!  Talk about outdoing your father.  Senior Speyer held the previous record when he bought 666 Fifth Avenue for $1.8 billion.  “He’s very talented,” said Laurence D. Fink, the chairman of BlackRock, who said that Rob Speyer oversaw the deal for Tishman Speyer. “His father treats him like a lead partner. I saw no evidence of Jerry interfering.”

NY Times 12/31/06




Mario Tama/Getty Images

A view of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan.



All this talk about billions of dollars gets my head spinning.  I think when last I looked very few school administrators deal with those kinds of numbers.


Unfortunately, Rob's success did not last long.  Here is where our tale takes a sad turn.


Just three years later, that bid will go down as an epic blunder. Tishman Speyer Properties, the global real-estate empire run by father-son duo Jerry and Rob Speyer, along with their investment partner BlackRock, defaulted on the mortgage at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. And just as the transaction was the biggest real-estate deal in American history, the collapse is regarded as similarly epic.


Oops!  That must have caused some frost at the Speyer Thanksgiving Day dinner!

Yes, that was about the time that the market took a dive and millions of people lost much of their life savings nest eggs.  I remember reading that it had something to do with real estate and speculation.  I wonder how many people, through repackaged mortgages and other investment vehicles of the time, lost some money because of the Speyer deal going south on an express train.  But, I digress.


The quintessential American story is one of resurrect  and redemption.  How will Rob regain his good name and standing in the economic community?  What's a young man to do?


Hire a public relations expert!


Michelle Adams, the well-connected executive director of the Association for a Better New York and an aide to ABNY chairman and landlord Bill Rudin, would become the new managing director for public affairs for Speyer.  I wonder what her advice was?



I think part of the plan involved making friends in high places.



Rob Speyer, First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris, and Mayor Bloomberg


Mr. Speyer was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg as chair of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, the not-for-profit corporation for the City of New York. Mr. Speyer became the founder and co-chair of the Committee to Save New York, a coalition of business, labor and civic groups promoting fiscal reform for New York State. He is a founding member of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a national group of business and political leaders committed to immigration reform. 


He has contributed $56,900 to Andrew Cuomo from June 3, 2008 to July 9, 2010.  And, reportedly, has bankrolled The Committee to Save New York with a $1 million donation in 2010.  Funny how a contribution of that magnitude is often coincidental with leadership in the organization.


Mr. Speyer's good friend, and fellow CSNY Board Member,  Kathryn S. Wylde

President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, advocates another way to save our fair State.




In a legislative memo dated May 27, 2010, the Partnership for New York City stresses the need to provide some tax relief for the very wealthy.  


"Proceeds of the personal income tax surcharge enacted last year are running about $1 billion less than expected. This may be partly attributed to the impact of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, but it also reflects the fact that New York’s high earners are highly mobile."


Thank goodness Mr. Speyer was not one of those highly mobile high earners.  He has stayed to help save us.


"The Partnership and others have provided the legislature with suggestions for how to reduce spending and raise revenues without damaging the economy. We cannot understand why there is no will to pursue alternatives, rather than push the state into deeper economic trouble by threatening to over-tax the biggest contributors to our current tax base. "


I am not a financial genius but I wonder how much a tax write-off there was in the failed $5.4 mortgage deal executed by Mr. Speyer.


Pending legislation in Albany will have much to do with real estate interests in the coming months.  It seems to me that Gov. Cuomo may be more favorably inclined toward real estate interests than schools and education.


But what do I know?




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