Despite e-mails showing some organizations are given special consideration with lighting requests, the Empire State Building is still stubbornly refusing to light up gold in honor of children with cancer.
One year ago, the Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) received a heap of criticism and bad press for refusing to light up gold in honor of pediatric cancer awareness. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and gold is used to remember those who suffer with such devastating illnesses.
During the media blitz last year, those running the Empire State Building’s social media accounts explained that they would only accept applications made by organizations and not individuals. They would also insist that all requests be made, not through a social media campaign, but rather through the online application process.
However, an e-mail obtained by the Mental Recession shows special consideration being given to lighting up in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, also a worthy cause, but perhaps seen by the Mayor’s Office as a chance for positive press.
James Patchett, Chief of Staff to New York City’s Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, reached out to Angela Sung Pinsky of the Real Estate Board of New York. Pinsky promised to put Patchett in touch with Tony Malkin, who serves as Chairman and CEO of the ESRT. Pinsky also said she would pass along any request for him, bypassing the online application.
Serving in the office of the Deputy Mayor means Patchett did not represent an organization when making his lighting request, and the fact that he was presumably put in touch directly with one of the ESRT partners means he was initially able to skirt the online application process altogther.
In fact, another e-mail demonstrates that Patchett spoke directly with Malkin about the lighting proposal on behalf of Rebecca Katz, a “promoter of progressive candidates and causes” according to her Twitter bio. Katz also appears to not be representing a domestic violence organization, working as a campaign strategist.
Patchett e-mailed Katz on September 16th to tell her he had spoken to Malkin about the request, and thanked Pinsky for her efforts in making it a reality on September 18th, exactly three days after initially reaching out to her. It went from idea to reality in the span of three days.
Patchett likely would have been instructed to fill out the application at some other point, but the city employee had an inside contact. Indeed the building did light up purple for Domestic Violence awareness in mid-October, something Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray personally attended.
Another controversy surrounding the refusal to light up gold last year was the city’s push to prioritize lighting up two days in light blue to try and woo the Democratic National Committee to town.
Another internal e-mail from City Hall shows that Ondria Torres at New York City & Company, an organization revolving around marketing and tourism in the city, “came up with” the idea of “lighting … the Empire State Building in DNC blue.”
Dan Gross, Communications Adviser for Mayor de Blasio, responded that Torres is “very impressive” and that she had done “nice work once again” in getting the request through.
The DNC lighting request was announced and scheduled all during the same week that Torres had come up with her idea, and the Empire State Building went light blue for Democrats on August 11th and 12th.
Meanwhile, thousands of parents on Twitter, Facebook, signing petitions, and talking to the local media, were pleading with the Empire State Building to raise children’s cancer awareness last August, to no avail. Yet, the ESRT somehow managed to squeeze in a political convention on their calendar.
And while individuals were given a fast track to lighting requests in the aforementioned cases, multiple organizations have again been refused their lighting requests on behalf of childhood cancer this year.
According to Tony Stoddard, whose son Cole died of a rare form of brain cancer, his organization again filed a request to light up gold this September. Other organizations to confirm having put in requests include Sophia’s Fund, Arms Wide Open, and Frankie’s Mission.
Miss New York Jamie Macchia, who has been pleading with the Empire State Building to Go Gold for childhood cancer, has also told the Mental Recession that the Miss New York Organization itself also submitted an application, but was denied.
This September, the Empire State Building has seemingly more important lighting requests placed ahead of pediatric cancer awareness – including a display of blue and white pinstripes and blue and orange in honor of the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees.
Last month the building lit up to honor Cecil the Lion, as well as their own ESRT employees.
Will the group ever get their priorities straight in regards to this request and finally go gold for kids with cancer?
— Luanne Rasmussen (@RasmussenLuanne) August 8, 2014