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talking transition

Bill de Blasio Announces Transition Team, Starring Cynthia Nixon [Updated]

NYC Public Advocate/Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio addresses the audience during the 94th annual New York City Veterans Day Parade on 5th Avenue on November 11, 2013 in New York City. The parade is the largest of its kind in the country and this year is especially dedicated to women serving in the armed forces.

After a trip to Puerto Rico and a week of lying low, the mayor-elect made an appearance before the press today at the George Soros–funded Talking Transition think tent in Manhattan. "It's much more elegant than your average tent," said Bill de Blasio once inside the space, which aims to foster discussion and transparency as the city changes hands. "If you give people a chance to offer their ideas, you'll find positive, productive ideas that people in City Hall didn't think of," he said (like "more cronuts!" and "more pet horses for beter things [sic]," for instance).

On the always-hot topic of the next police commissioner, De Blasio confirmed that he'd talked to former NYPD boss Bill Bratton, with whom he has "a great deal of agreement on the core issues," about returning to the gig. ("I haven't been asked yet, I'm not applying for the job," said Bratton yesterday. "If asked, I'll certainly consider it.")

De Blasio said he'd also spoken about the position with NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks and Deputy Police Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, but that no decision has been made. "I don't make my decisions based on public discourse," he said.

The prime reason for his appearance at Talking Transition, though, was to talk transition: The mayor-elect announced his newly rounded out, 60-person transition team, which includes AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Sex and the City and De Blasio ad star Cynthia Nixon, and former White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes. Here's the full committee:

Jennifer Jones Austin, Co-chair, Transition NYC

Carl Weisbrod, Co-chair, Transition NYC

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, Studio Museum of Harlem

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, President and Founder of Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

Cheryl Cohen Effron, Founder, Greater NY; Former President, ATC Management

Karen Brooks Hopkins, President, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Alexa Avilés, Program Officer, Scherman Foundation; Co-President, Parent Teacher Association of Public School 172

Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education

Maxine Griffith, Executive Vice-president and Special Adviser for Campus Planning, Office of Government and Community Affairs, Columbia University

Kate Sinding Esq., Senior Attorney, New York Urban Program, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Hon. Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, Former Councilmember, 40th District

MaryAnne Gilmartin, President and CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies

Bertha Lewis, President and Founder, The Black Institute

Marcia A. Smith, President, Firelight Media

Ana Oliveira, President and CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST)

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

Martha Baker, Executive Director and CEO, Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW)

Dr. Katherine La Guardia, Assistant Clinical Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, Mount Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Conchita M. Mendoza, Chief of Geriatrics, University Hospital of Brooklyn, Long Island College Hospital

Cynthia Nixon, Actress, Artist, Activist

Arnold L. Lehman, Director, Brooklyn Museum

Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public Theater

Edward (Ed) Lewis, Founder, Essence Communications, Inc.

Richard Buery, Jr., President and CEO, The Children’s Aid Society

William Floyd, Head of External Affairs, Google, Inc.

Meyer (Sandy) Frucher, Vice-chairman, The NASDAQ OMX Group

Orin Kramer, Founder, Boston Provident LP

Vincent (Vinny) Alvarez, President, NYC Central Labor Council

Peter Madonia, COO, The Rockefeller Foundation

Ken Sunshine, Founder, Sunshine Sachs

Harold Ickes, Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff

Dr. Rafael Lantigua, Professor of Clinical Medicine, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

John Banks, Vice-president of Government Relations, Con Edison; Board Member, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)

Douglas (Doug) Durst, Chairman, The Durst Organization

Derrick Cephas, Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Former CEO and President, Amalgamated Bank

Herb Sturz, Co-founder, Vera Institue of Justice

Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

Rabbi Michael Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council

Pastor Michael Walrond, Jr., Director of Ministers Division, National Action Network (NAN); Seventh Senior Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church

Udai Tambar, Executive Director, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!)

David Jones, President and CEO, Community Service Society of New York (CSS)

Marvin Hellman, President, OHEL Childrens Home and Family Services

Rev. A.R. Bernard, Founder, Senior Pastor, and CEO, Christian Cultural Center

George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Dr. Steven Safyer, President and CEO, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Ken Lerer, Managing Director, Lerer Ventures; Former Chairman and Co-founder, Huffington Post

Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director and Chaplain, Islamic Center, New York University

Marian Fontana, Board Member, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Families Advisory Council

Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL, Inc.

Kevin Ryan, Founder and Chairman, Gilt

Pam Kwatra, President, Kripari Marketing; Executive Committee, Indian National Overseas Congress

Elsie Saint Louis, Executive Director, Haitian-Americans United for Progress, Inc.

Vanessa Leung, Deputy Director, Coalition for Asian American Children & Families

Paula Gavin, Executive Director, Fund for Public Advocacy

Kim Sweet, Executive Director, Advocates for Children of New York

Dr. Marcia Keizs, President, York College, The City University of New York

Jukay Hsu, Founder, Coalition for Queens

Arnie Segarra, Activist and Longtime NYC Public Servant

Elba Montalvo, Founder, President, and CEO, The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc.

Mindy Tarlow, Executive Director and CEO, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, Executive Director, Queens Council on the Arts

Update: Chris Smith, also at the event, adds:

The sheer size of that committee, as well as its racial and gender diversity, and today’s tent event were useful symbolism. De Blasio says he’s intent on creating a more inclusive government, one that’s more in touch with the city’s grassroots. “This center is affording people an opportunity to share their ideas, share their concerns, in a way that offers more transparency, more openness, more possibilities than has often been the case with government,” De Blasio said. “An extraordinary number of New Yorkers have productive ideas, and many times ideas that people in City Hall or city agencies didn’t think of.”

Oddly, though, his remarks were made without any sort of public address system, so the civilians in the room couldn’t hear what he was saying. Transparency only goes so far in other ways, too. De Blasio dodged a question about where he’s been spending his time, other than to say he wasn’t holding meetings at DiFara’s Pizza. And don’t expect him to disclose contenders or finalists for top jobs. “In some cases I might choose, as I have with police commissioner, to talk about some people we’re considering,” De Blasio said. “But I think given the number of positions we have to fill, the public part of this process is that anyone can put their name forward, or put anyone else’s name forward.”

No one, of course, is expecting him to pick the next schools chancellor through a public show of hands. Yet De Blasio has raised expectations the he’ll run a more democratic city. Many of the Talking Transition tent suggestions are loopy—“stop the immigrants from coming here,” “don’t slut shame”—but others are earnest and interesting. A guy in a floppy hat, disappointed that he arrived too late to talk to De Blasio, instead explained to me his idea for how firehouses should be turned into hubs of information and emergency supplies during natural disasters or power failures. “People can’t just complain about government,” he said. “They have to get involved and do something.” As mayor-elect and mayor De Blasio will do most of his deciding behind closed doors. But if he can harness some of the hope flowing through the transition tent he’ll have a better chance of making those choices work.

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Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images