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De Blasio Taps Team to Tackle the City's Labor Contract Backlog

By Colby Hamilton | December 31, 2013 8:11pm
 Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio naming five appointees to his administration on New Years Eve.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio naming five appointees to his administration on New Years Eve.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CIVIC CENTER — Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on Tuesday tapped his team to tackle the backlog of more than 150 labor contracts facing the new mayor as he takes over on New Year's Day.

Robert Linn and Stan Brezenoff were introduced by de Blasio during a press conference across the street from City Hall as the duo who will work with First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris to resolve as many of the outstanding labor contracts as possible by year’s end.

Calling it the “hardest assignment in the history of labor relations,” de Blasio praised Linn, who will serve as the director of labor relations, as someone with “the experience, the intellect, the guts and the bravery” to handle the situation.

This is Linn’s second time around as lead labor negotiator for the city, having served under former Mayor Ed Koch in the same capacity. He has spent his life working as a negotiator, having worked on contracts and arbitration efforts in New York, as well as Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other major American cities.

Linn quickly struck a harmonious note, saying a respectful tone between labor and management was essential to getting the best results for both sides.

“It certainly has become fashionable to denigrate public sector workers,” he said. “You will certainly not hear that, not from any of us.”

Linn’s partner in the process will be Stanley Brezenoff, who was appointed as an unpaid special advisor to Shorris.

Brezenoff, too, has experience in government, also working in the Koch administration as the head of the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation. He was most recently the CEO and President of Continuum Health Partners, which ran a number of hospitals in the city.

Brezenoff said he was convinced to return to government service because of “the clear energy and vision and commitment of this new administration to tackle with energy and purpose the most important issues that go to the heart of how the people of New York City live.”

De Blasio also appointed officials to other top agencies just hours before being sworn in as the city’s next mayor.

Gilbert Taylor, currently the Executive Deputy Commissioner at the Administration for Children’s Services, was tapped as the Commissioner of Homeless Services. He promised to take on the position with “every part of [his] heart,” calling the homeless problem in the city “quite profound.”

De Blasio also appointed Polly Trottenberg as the new head of the city’s Department of Transportation. Trottenberg currently serves as the undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Obama administration.

Trottenberg promised she would focus ton delivering de Blasio’s “Zero Vision” policy of ending pedestrian deaths in the city, and to bring a more inclusive process to bike lanes.

Additionally, de Blasio announced Kyle Kimball would continue to serve as head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Despite working in the agency under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — one which was often criticized by the candidate de Blasio — Kimball said he was on board with the Mayor-elect’s goals of using EDC to bridge the inequality gap in the city.