SPA lecturer accused of misconduct
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 7, 2012 21:05
After allegations of misconduct while working for the Mayor, School of Public Affairs distinguished lecturer Martha Stark is under assessment by The New York City Department of Investigation.
Until she was sidelined by inquiries on her personal conduct, Stark had been highly regarded for her stewardship of an agency that assesses the city’s properties and collects tax revenues.
Her previous standing as Finance Commissioner may be questionable, but here at Baruch she was perceived as a distinguished lecturer among colleagues, who described her as a positive role model for young academics at the Public affairs community.
School of Public Affairs spokeswoman Christiana Latouf said, “Since she’s joined [our staff], she’s had several peer and college-wide reviews and [has been] found to perform well.”
“Her lectures are always interesting, uplifting to the students. I find her to be a very positive female role model among the individuals in the university,” says Nisha Ramirez, a graduating journalism student.
Stark formerly served as Finance Commissioner in the Cabinet of Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2002 until 2009. She is accused of manipulating her status, or using her position under the Mayor to procure financial stability for her family members and significant other. The DOI filed a 111-page report citing multiple allegations that have aided in the ongoing conduct assessment.
The City Charter bars employees from using their positions to benefit associated persons, who are defined by the charter as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, registered domestic partner or someone with whom the employee has a business or financial relationship. Cited in the investigation report against Stark was the accusation that she had a relationship with a former Commissioner employee, as well as employing the individual’s family members.
“The extent of Stark’s misconduct was compounded by multiple misrepresentations made after her conduct came under scrutiny,” stated the report against Stark. She was fined $22,000 by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, which reviewed the same accusations and primarily cited her for using a city computer account to send e-mails related to her paid service as a board member of a different real estate company.
Stark’s fine — the second highest ever levied by the conflicts board — represents the latest high-profile penalty assessed by the panel. According to the conflicts board, Stark also asked — using her city e-mail — the vice president and general counsel of a corporation that owns luxury rental apartment buildings to help her former domestic partner look for an apartment.
When contacted in person for a photo and a statement by The Ticker’s photo editor, someone who appeared to be Stark left the Distinguished Lecturer’s office claiming she was not Martha Stark and did not know where she could be found, later sending an email saying she was unavailable for comment and could not provide a photo.
Allegations filed against Stark with the DOI are still pending.