City Said to Tap Ex-Wachovia CEO Steel as Deputy Mayor

436px robertksteel City Said to Tap Ex Wachovia CEO Steel as Deputy MayorThe Bloomberg administration is planning to announce a new deputy mayor for economic development Tuesday afternoon at 3:30, according to multiple people informed of the announcement. According to one person familiar with the decision, the mayor has tapped Robert Steel, a former CEO of Wachovia and a vice chairman at Goldman Sachs, to fill the position.

The hiring of Mr. Steel would put a financial manager to head the city’s economic development strategy, one who has a long history in the Wall Street world. In the recent Bush administration, he served as an undersecretary of the Treasury for domestic finance. He, presumably, will come with some criticism. Politically, there has been a national distaste for Wall Street lately, particularly Goldman Sachs, which, with its profits, has come to be a political punching bag. With that said, the mayor has gone the other way, stepping out as one of Wall Street’s biggest backers in terms of financial regulation reform. 

This would be the second outsider to fill a key role in Mr. Bloomberg’s inner circle. In late April, he tapped Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, as deputy mayor for operations. Taken with the earlier departure of Kevin Sheekey, the deputy mayor who handles politics, that leaves few voices with years of immersion in New York City government who have the mayor’s ear. 

[Update 9 p.m.] 

Of course, the last two people in Mr. Steel’s position were relatively new to city government themselves. Dan Doctoroff was recruited by Mayor Bloomberg to take the job in 2002, after having worked for years in the private sector and then while he ran New York City’s 2012 Olympic bid. His successor, Bob Lieber, worked for years doing real estate at Lehman Bros. and worked for one year as president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. 

Mr. Steel, like Mr. Goldsmith, grew up outside New York. He was raised in North Carolina and went to Duke, as did both his parents (according to a 2005 announcement from Duke when Mr. Steel joined the university’s board of trustees). 

And, based on this Wall Street Journal piece, he is also an Eagle Scout. With Mr. Goldsmith, there are now two deputy mayors who are Eagle Scouts, a fact not lost on Mr. Bloomberg, who is an Eagle Scout himself. 

ebrown@observer.com