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Publisher Runs for Mayor
July 12th, 2011

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg set to exit the city’s political scene in 2013, another wealthy – albeit not nearly that wealthy — publisher has started eying his job.

Tom Allon, publisher of Manhattan Media, which owns neighborhood weekly, City Hall and the New York Press, among other publications, has told Crain’s he wants to run for mayor.

Whatever else Allon’s candidacy might or might not do, it raises interesting campaign finance questions, Azi Paybarah of the Observer reports. While the papers can continue to cover the news , including politicking by their boss, they could raise questions, Eric Friedman of the Campaign Finance Board, told Paybarah “if they put him on the front page and say, ‘Here’s why this guy is going to be a great mayor.”

In their morning email, City Hall and the Capitol, its sister publication said, “We’re putting up a wall between Allon’s aspirations and our coverage of New York politics, and we’ll cover him like any other candidate — which means we’ll wait to see if he’s taken seriously before we do.”

Expressing skepticism on that very point, the email said, “What seems like a vanity run to push his pet issue of improving city schools is a long shot at best.”

In a memo to his employees, Allon said, he would “no longer be involved in the day-to-day editorial process of City Hall or any mayoral political coverage in our weekly newspapers,” but would be “more committed than ever to growing our business and helping each of you realize your goals and our collective goal of growth and success, both financially and editorially.” (Think the man will definitely need a speechwriter with a punchy touch.)

In another similarity with Bloomberg, Allon wants to stress education – he was a high school teacher – and supports charter schools. On the other hand, he feels Bloomberg has excluded parents from the education process. He dos share Bloomberg’s disdain for a living wage bill.

And Allon has worked for Bloomberg. While Manhattan Media publications covered the mayor, Madison Square Partners, whose offices were in Manhattan Media’s, received more than $1.5 million from Bloomberg to place ads for him in weekly and ethnic newspaper throughout the city during the 2009 campaign. Comptroller candidate David Weprin, now the Democratic candidates for Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat, and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance also apparently hired Madison Square.

Bloomberg also bought ads in Allon’s own papers.

At the time, Allon told the Observer he had recused himself from the papers’ endorsement process and di not have a role in coverage. According to the Observer, “he also said that like most publishers, he does not steer coverage of his newspapers.”

That might make you wonder why in his memo today he said he would “no longer be involved in the day-to-day editorial process.”

By on July 12, 2011, 7:09 pm
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