Carol Robles-Roman: A Quiet Elegant Efficiency in City Hall

Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman (Photo by Maurice Pinzon)

Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman (Photo by Maurice Pinzon)

By Maurice Pinzon
Yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg held a ceremony in the Governor’s Room at City Hall to grant citizenship to the family of U.S. Army Pfc. Luis Moreno, who died in Iraq. Before the ceremony, Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman could be seen greeting the Moreno family and military personnel in a back room. Then, reporters, cameras and lights encircled the Moreno family to capture their grief. A member of the mayor’s security detail reminded the photographers that it was a solemn occasion.

At that moment, in a red business dress, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman was far removed from the spotlight, standing almost in the adjoining room. Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman does not have the political street-tough appearance of a Ninfa Segarra, who served as a deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani. Instead, Deputy Mayor Robles Roman displayed an aura that permeates the best officials in the Bloomberg administration — a certain technocratic elegance.

In an interview with News York News Network after yesterday’s ceremony, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman perked up as she spoke about the paths she took in life to reach her current position. Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman was born in New York City. She has lived in all of the city’s boroughs, except Staten Island. She marched in the Puerto Rican Day Parade when she was eight years old, then marched again in 2003 alongside Mayor Bloomberg. “I felt like I died and went to heaven,” she said yesterday with great pride.

Indeed, she said that one of her most fulfilling responsibilities is going out to speak to young students. Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman said she encourages the students to focus on their future and to think of becoming not deputy mayor but mayor or governor. She said she often gets emails from students after her appearances.

A graduate of New York University Law School, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman first worked as a corporate lawyer but soon felt compelled to work in family court, a place where she could do the things she wanted to accomplish, she said. Although she enjoyed the perks of being a corporate lawyer, she wanted to demonstrate her law school idealism in a more immediate and concrete way.

Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman was not an expert in family law, but she found a way to get a job with the court anyway. “I talked myself into the job,” she said. The deputy mayor eventually became the highest-ranked non-judicial official in the court. Explaining her shift from corporate law to the public sector, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman said, “I liked the activism. I liked the immediate impact.” In her current position, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman likes the feeling of being able to enter “a room, see a problem and be able to fix it.”

The deputy mayor seems genuinely thrilled to work for Mayor Bloomberg, a person who, according to her view, has both a disciplined mind and an instinct for fairness. “Working with Michael Bloomberg is just a very dynamic experience. He really lets you do your job. He’s not a micromanager, but he’s an incredible leader. He brings enthusiasm and energy and focus — just an incredible ability to focus.”

Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman was intimately involved in the negotiations with advocates and the City Council that resulted in Executive Order 41, which expanded privacy protections for all New Yorkers. Executive Order 41 was an issue particularly important to the immigrant community in New York City. Although Council member Hiram Monserrate is credited with bringing the issue to the forefront, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman said yesterday it was an issue the Bloomberg Administration had been considering for some time before it received so much attention. The deputy mayor said that when she bumps into Council member Monserrate, they often reflect on the accomplishment.

In vetting the mayor’s judicial appointments — the mayor appoints family and criminal court judges — the deputy mayor said she admired his “ability to read individuals.” She recounted Mayor Bloomberg once saying, “I never want to send a woman and her three kids in front of that person,” referring to a judicial nominee whom he felt did not have the necessary judicial temperament.

Indeed the appointment of judges is a branch of government that Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman said truly has “quality of life” implications for families going through the court system. The decisions of these judges can dramatically change people’s lives.

Praising the mayor highly, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman said she felt she had the full support of Mayor Bloomberg and his staff. Perhaps the scenario is to be expected from someone working for a mayor. But her words were notable, nonetheless. “Michael Bloomberg is an incredibly loyal man and an incredibly good boss, and most important, he is an incredible mayor who cares,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman is Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Counsel and is Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs, a position the mayor created. She advises the mayor on City Hall legal issues but also oversees the Offices of Criminal Justice Coordinator, Administrative Trials and Hearings, Immigrant Affairs, Combat Domestic Violence, People with Disabilities, Veteran’s Affairs, and the Commissions: On Human Rights and Women’s Issues. In addition, Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman liaisons with the Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary, Administrative Trial Judges, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Conflict of Interest Board, and the Commissions to Combat Police Corruption, Equal Employment Practices, Voters Assistance.

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