NYC Official Resigns Amid Gal Pal Scandal

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 29, 2009

After questions arose concerning her relationship with a former colleague, whose boss she had been, New York City finance commissioner Martha Stark submitted a letter of resignation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had appeared to be protective toward Stark, who had served in the capacity of city finance commissioner since 2002, but in her letter Stark wrote, "As I serve at the pleasure of the mayor, I hereby resign," reported an April 28 article at The New York Times, prompting speculation that Bloomberg may have requested that Stark step down.

Stark had faced questions about her relationship with Dara Ottley-Brown, whom Stark said she did not become romantically involved with until Ms. Ottley-Brown had already left her job as a subordinate to Stark.

But other questions also nagged: Stark faced scrutiny for her high-paying position on the board of housing company the Tarragon Corporation, as well as questions related to allegedly padded time sheets submitted by parking judge Allan J. Patricof, married to Rochelle Patricof, Stark's first deputy commissioner.

The Tarragon Corporation doesn't transact its business in New York City, the article said, but the amount that Stark was paid for her time on the board--$134,000 over two years--raised eyebrows.

But most notable was the career trajectory enjoyed by Ottley-Brown, which abruptly took an upward turn when, in 2003, Ottley-Brown became a commissioner with the city's Board of Standard and Appeals, seeing her salary more than double in the process.

A previous story at EDGE noted that a New York Post article detailed other questionable details, including family members and the former husband of a lover being given jobs, and a Caribbean cruise.

However, the Post also carried a quote from Stark denying any wrongdoing: "I have never used my position to obtain any advantage for any relative or personal relation, and I have not had a personal relationship with any subordinate," Stark told the Post.

Even before assuming the top spot in the department in 2002, Stark had been a longtime employee there, having started in 1990. Her city department career was interrupted for a time when she accepted a fellowship at the White House during the Clinton administration, after which she worked at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the article said.

Stark's resignation comes into effect at the end of the week.

In her letter, Stark expressed gratitude for her years of service.

Mayor Bloomberg was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "I want to thank Martha for her years of service, and I want to recognize the many reforms that finance developed and implemented under her leadership."

Attorney Randy M. Mastro spoke on behalf of Stark, saying, "Martha Stark did nothing wrong here except try to keep her private life private, and for that she has now left her government post and New York City has lost one of its finest public servants."

The Finance Committee chairman, David I. Weprin, spoke of Stark in glowing terms, saying, "I have always found her to be the consummate professional."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.