The Forgotten E-Mail That Rocked New York


bloombergOn Monday, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was fuming. On Tuesday, he was forgiving, characterizing the actions of a low-level manager who failed to notify him or his superiors of a planned flyover exercise in Lower Manhattan as merely a mistake.

Perhaps it was because the mayor had already punished the manager, Marc Mugnos, with a letter of reprimand (and, presumably, a tongue-lashing). Perhaps it was because of all the apologies the city had received – from Mr. Mugnos, most likely, and also from the White House.

“The guy just didn’t do it. He read the thing and just didn’t do it,” Mayor Bloomberg told reporters during a news conference at City Hall, referring to Mr. Mugnos’ inaction after receiving an e-mail last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration, notifying him of the plans for a flyover by F-16s and a backup to Air Force One. (The New York Police Department also received the same e-mail.)

That might be all in the past for Mr. Bloomberg, but a lot of people out there are wondering who Mr. Mugnos is and why the F.A.A. would pick him to share information about what turned out to be a nerve-rattling event for those who live and work in Lower Manhattan, particularly those who were there on Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Mugnos joined city government in 2000 as a director of operations for the Sports Commission. It was his first job after graduating from college; he had obtained a bachelor of science degree, with a major in marketing, from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., that June, according to an announcement published in the time in the Putnam County News and Recorder, a weekly newspaper. (Montel Williams was the commencement speaker, the announcement notes.)

Mr. Mugnos occupied the post until May 2007, when he was brought to the newly formed Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management under the same title, director of operations, at an annual salary of $60,000, city officials said.

As director of operations, Mr. Mugnos is in charge of making sure that the public events held in the city – everything from parades to street fairs and the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square – are properly staffed. He also coordinates the logistics for those events with the various agencies that issue permits for street activities, like the police and parks departments and the Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, the officials said.

His job is part of the broad mandate of an agency that functions as a clearinghouse of sorts for every public event held in the city, coordinating them, spreading information about them and making sure that permit-holders are following the rules.

Mr. Mugnos’ relationship with the F.A.A. dates almost as far back as his 23-month tenure in the agency. Together, they have coordinated the no-fly zone established at the U.S. Open, held every year in late August and early September in Queens, and worked out the logistics for the Red Arrows Air Show, held last summer in Staten Island.
“That history is why they used him as a contact,” Jason Post, a spokesman for the mayor, said in an e-mail message.

Mystery solved.

Mr. Mugnos could not be reached for comment. Mr. Bloomberg said that his was an error in judgment, that he has been reprimanded and that “we’ve all learned something” from the situation. “Now,” the mayor added, “it’s time to make sure our procedures are better and to get on with other things.”

{CityRoom/NY Times/Elisha Newscenter}