Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
Anthony Shorris, the man appointed by mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to oversee the administration's day-to-day operations, at different times has managed large-scale hospital repairs following Sandy, the World Trade Center redevelopment at Ground Zero, and one of the city’s biggest public housing initiatives in decades.
People who have worked with Shorris describe him as a "straight-shooter" who is affable, smart and exceptionally well-connected. He has worked in the city's Office of Management and Budget and the Education and Finance departments. He has led the Port Authority and an academic think tank before his most recent job as a senior executive at NYU-Langone Medical Center.
One associate, who was not authorized to speak by the de Blasio administration, described Shorris as particularly adept at navigating the often treacherous bureaucracy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which can take years to fund recovery projects.
"He knew who the players were, who had authority and who would step in for problem-solving," said the associate.
Lee Sander, the former head of the MTA, said Shorris’s experience and his contacts uniquely qualified him to spearhead the effort.
"With some things in Tony’s background, you don’t see the fingerprints, but he’s had a really strong effect," Sander said, "and with some things, Tony clearly has a notch on his belt."
The two men have known each other for more than 30 years and worked together when Shorris led the Port Authority.
Sander said Shorris is driven by ethics and a desire to improve the city, and was itching to get back into government — despite a lucrative few years in the private sector. NYU paid Shorris more than a half-million dollars in 2011, the most recent year for which tax forms are available.
Sander says he knew something was up when at a recent meeting of a board he chairs, Shorris was “noticeably silent” during a conversation about what sort of city planning initiatives the board should push to the de Blasio administration.
A few weeks later, de Blasio announced the appointment of Shorris as First Deputy Mayor.
“There’s a lot of decisions that don’t rise to the level of the mayor, and I want everyone to know where the buck stops in all those other situations,” de Blasio said. “It stops with Tony Shorris.”