This morning at the Regency, Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, sat by himself, killing the Wednesday crossword puzzle. When he finished, his table was awarded to Jay Kriegel, a senior adviser at Related whose NYC political pedigree dates back to once being chief of staff to Mayor John Lindsay; Mr. Kriegel was joined by dashing former US Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tennessee), who is now a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley.
There was a buzz in the air, as breakfasters debated what the mayor’s big affordable housing speech tomorrow might mean for the city’s wealthiest and most powerful residents.
The real estate crowd is already concerned with a pitch by two dozen City Council Members to change the standard 80/20 market-affordable formula to one that calls for 50/50. Some fretted over their eggs benedict that the new rules might even cover all new development, not just that which had already been required to include an affordable component.
Rumors of other ways the mayor may be plotting to torture the rich were afoot as well. One person well versed in city affairs commented that he’d heard the mayor would propose an additional tax on top of the “mansion tax” the state already charges on sales of properties over $1 million (and on top of flip taxes many co-ops charge). But according to former deputy mayor Joe Lhota, also on the scene, that would need approval in Albany and would once again pit Mr. de Blasio against a governor running for re-election.
Nail-biting by the 1% set the table for a coup. And indeed one seemed to be taking shape right there at the Regency as a parade of conservative heavyweights made its way to the private room for a closed-door meeting.
As Loews Hotels Chairman and master of ceremonies at the Regency Jonathan Tisch enjoyed his breakfast, his cousin, Loews CEO Jim Tisch, welcomed into the restaurant’s private room a group of neocon royalty that included Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General of the United States; Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State; Midge Decter, author of Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait and Liberal Parents, Radical Children; Norman Podhoretz, editor-in-chief of Commentary 1960-1995, and author of Why Are Jews Liberals?; Ken Bialkin, who killed it for Skadden, Arps; and Seth Lipsky, founding editor of the New York Sun. One can only imagine the hand-wringing taking place as Mr. de Blasio prepares to raise expectations and lower the boom.
On the way out, an energized and smiling NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer sat not uncomfortably with Bill White, who formerly headed the Intrepid Museum but was eventually “agreed to pay a $1 million settlement for his role in a massive state pension fund pay-to-play scandal,” a table away from Hunter College President Jennifer Raab. It was a rainy day and there are storm clouds brewing. But the city had its coffee and will handle whatever comes its way.
“Power Breakfast at the Regency” is an occasional, opinionated look at the city’s elite as they begin their day.