The furniture company West Elm, a unit of San Francisco-based Williams-Sonoma, has reportedly donated $65,000 worth of furniture for the "upstairs residential quarters" of Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of New York. The New York Times has a news article that disappointingly doesn't answer several questions, including
1. Are the de Blasios going to remove this furniture at the end of their mayoralty?
2. Do they have to pay gift tax on the value of it?
3. How is it possibly in keeping with ethics rules to accept a gift of $65,000 worth of furniture for your personal living space from West Elm, which is headquartered in the city?
4. Does West Elm get a tax deduction for this? What is the public charity used as a conduit for that, and how does it meet the definition of a public charity to provide fancy furniture for the mayor's personal living quarters?
5. If there's no charitable tax deduction, is West Elm treating it as a public policy or lobbying expense?
6. Does West Elm get any subsidies or tax breaks from the city for having its corporate headquarters in Brooklyn? Do de Blasio or his appointees sign off on this?
Maybe I'm unusual, but I find the whole thing just stunningly corrupt. It'd be one thing if it were for the public spaces of the mansion used for entertaining the public and official guests. But for the private living quarters? Sixty-five thousand dollars worth of furniture? That's more than a lot of the poor New Yorkers that Mr. de Blasio supposedly represents earn in a year! The sense of entitlement and the corruption on display here are just staggering. If the mayor wants to keep his reputation as anything other than a phony, he should donate the West Elm furniture to some needy families, and if he needs some furniture for his personal residence, he should go pay the market rate for it at Ikea, Macy's, a flea market, a stoop sale, or some other outlet, just like the 8 million other New Yorkers who don't have companies they govern lined up to give them $65,000 gifts.