Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yassky: The lyin’ in winter

The Brooklyn Paper

A lot of people are angry about the City Council’s 29-22 vote to set aside term limits and allow Mayor Bloomberg to run for a third term.

And they’re all, it seems, angry at David Yassky.

The Brooklyn Heights councilman has become the main whipping boy for outrage about the Council’s Oct. 23 vote — and his tortured, painstaking, wonkish effort to explain his vote to rescind two public term-limit referendums hasn’t done him any favors.

Hours after the vote, Yassky made a long-schedule appearance before the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, a Carroll Gardens political club that fancies itself a reform-minded, “progressive” Democratic organization.

The Politicrasher hadn’t heard Yassky (who is white) heckled so much since he was visiting black churches during his failed attempt to win a black-majority congressional seat in 2006.

Club members berated Yassky for what they thought was a self-serving, cake-and-eat-it-too move: Yassky first put up an amendment to the term-limit bill that called instead for a public referendum on the 12-year cap — but then backed the original bill when his amendment was shot down.

“He was not sincere,” said Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope), who voted against the three-term-limit bill. Yassky “did not act with integrity,” DeBlasio added, because his amendment “was not offered in an honest spirit.”

“It was an artifice and a maneuver on his part to give him cover,” added DeBlasio, who said he will now run for Public Advocate even though he could run for his own seat again. “How could you call for a referendum and then vote for the mayor’s bill?”

Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) also attacked Yassky’s integrity.

“What he did was not the progressive thing,” said Millman. “It outraged people. And his explanation was convoluted and torturous. If you put forth an amendment, you need to gather support for it. And if it fails, you should vote against the bill. I certainly would have voted against changing term limits.”

(A cynic would point out that as a member of the Assembly, the only term limit that a Democrat like Millman faces is death, but why be cynical in a story about a topic so pure as David Yassky’s term-limit vote?)

The Politicrasher was one of thousands of New Yorkers who received Yassky’s “torturous” explanation via e-mail. In it, the councilman said he made “the right choice” after “a great deal of thought” about “the most difficult decision I have faced in the City Council — more than congestion pricing, the garbage plan, or the post-9-11 tax increase.”

“My initial reaction to the mayor’s proposal was outrage,” Yassky said. “While I have always held that the eight-year term limit was bad policy … the fairest way to change it was by a subsequent referendum.”

When the mayor “would not relent” and go the referendum route, Yassky said he did some fact-finding in his district and discovered that for every voter who wanted to keep term limits the way they were, another voter wanted to keep Mayor Bloomberg in office during these “challenging” times.

“I became convinced that the right choice was to [give] voters the option of choosing to continue the Bloomberg Administration,” he wrote. “Even so, I pressed the referendum argument to the very end.”

And then the end came, and he caved. But, of course, he offered what he’d like us to consider a logical explanation.

“As much as I was loath to override the expressed will of the voters, I was unwilling to leave in place a term limits policy which I believe is bad in general and especially at this time,” he wrote.

I hadn’t seen this much spinning since I saw The Four Tops in concert. Getting Yassky on the phone only continued the gyrations.

Now a week after his vote, Yassky still failed to see the weakness in his argument that he opposed overturning the public’s twice-stated will on term limits even though he voted to do just that.

To paraphrase the Swift-Boaters, David Yassky was for term limits before he was against them.

“I believe I still have the moral high ground because in the end, I voted for what is in the best interest of the city,” he said. “I did want to change term limits. I did not want to do it by overturning the will of the voters, but when that failed, I voted for 12 years instead of eight.”

Yassky claims that personal motivation had nothing to do with his vote; he is still running for City Comptroller, just as he was before he voted to allow himself to run again for his seat.

But everyone in political circles thinks that Comptroller Bill Thompson will eventually decide that a safe re-election is a better alternative to running against the billionaire mayor. And when that happens, Yassky will get to appear like a good Democrat by announcing that he won’t take on Thompson — and when THAT happens, the five people who were already running for Yassky’s seat (Ken Baer, Isaac Abraham, Ken Diamonstone, Jo Anne Simon, Evan Thies and Steve Levin) will suddenly melt away rather than face an incumbent with a comptroller-sized war chest.

So that leave Yassky with an easy shot at a third term on the Council.

So much for the “moral high ground.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jimmy Vacca's term-limit vote is a disappointment

Monday, October 27th 2008, 3:45 PM

East Bronx City Councilman Jimmy Vacca's last-minute switch to vote for extending term limits - a bill he bitterly opposed down to the wire - has a lotta folks sadly shaking their heads.

One of the most principled politicians so many of us have come to know, Jimmy faced that long, dark night of the soul, and whatever the enticement or threat - Mike (Our Lord and Savior) Bloomberg personally lobbied him - traded his principles for politics.

It was sad to hear his voice choking and see tears welling up as he spoke before voting Thursday.

He said later his mom swayed him 'cause she wanted to vote for Bloomie, but we don't buy that.

Thankfully, there is redemption, and we hope Jimmy's public career is a long one.

Soundview/Castle Hill Councilwoman Annabel Palma cast the boro's lone "no" vote, but it was no profile in courage. Her union mentor, SEIU 1199, opposed the bill.

On the "yes" side, we expected no less of Maria Baez and Larry Seabrook, who both actually showed up to vote after having the worst Council attendance records - and no apparent talent for holding regular day jobs.

Also in the "yes" camp: Majority Leader Joel Rivera, Ollie Koppell, Maria (Will Change Last Name for Votes) Arroyo and Helen Foster, who hasn't gotten any nibbles dangling a run for Bronx BP.

A number of challengers are already lining up to take them on - and out - next year.

Four more years

Unless the courts overturn the term limits vote - which seems at best an uphill battle - and Controller Bill Thompson stays in the mayoral race with Rep. Anthony Weiner, it looks like Adolfo Carrión will scrap his run for controller and go for Bronx BP again.

Accordingly, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. told us he'll then drop his quest for BP.

Unholy alliance

Watch out for lightning around these guys.

Mortal political enemies Bronx State Sen. Ruben (The Rev.) Diaz Sr. and state Sen.-elect Pedro (The Wascally Wabbit) Espada Jr. have kissed and made up.

On top of that, The Rev. and The Wabbit, seen huddling over lunch last week at the Caridad Restaurant in Westchester Square, have formed an unholy alliance with two fellow Dems, Brooklyn state Sen. Carl Kruger and Queens Sen.-elect Hiram Monserrate, to throw their collective weight around in the closely divided Senate, maybe even playing in the Republican sandbox for district largesse.

The Downstate Bad Boyz will likely want to have a say in whether Malcolm Smith or someone else should be majority leader if, as expected, Dems wrest slim majority control.

We're told the DBBs will go public shortly after next Tuesday's election - if they can keep from stabbing each other in the back that long. ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


You would never know it from the media that Councilmember Lewis Fiddler funds one of the city’s largest non-profit patronage operations in the city. Coming in with the third highest amount of member items in the council, with just over $700,000, Lewis Fidler, assistant majority leader and Chairman of the Youth Services Committee, said he is proud to be considered the third "biggest pig" in the council. The Councilman uses the city’s budget to provide jobs for his friends, campaign workers and to continue the illusion that a once-powerful club is still going strong.

Today’s reporters do not cover politics like Jimmy Breslin, Jack Newfield, Pete Hamill, Murray Kempton and other members of their hard-working greatest generation, who understood neighborhood politics and never quoted politicians like celebrities. Reporters of Newfield’s era understood that elected officials always had motives, and that truth could only be reported by analyzing their words and investigated their actions. Fidler is one of the most quoted councilmembers in the city’s newspapers and blogs on virtually every topic and issue, except for one: what he does with the member items money in his district.

Some people claim that the way the media covers Fidler shows a racial bias in its reporting of political corruption. By reading the dailies we know how Councilmembers Erik Martin Dilan and Leroy Comrie sent member items funds to nonprofits that hired their wives. Maria del Carmen Arroyo sent money to nonprofits that employed her sister and nephew. Darlene Mealy tired to find a nonprofit to hire her sister. Larry Seabrook and Kendall Stewart used nonprofit money to help in their campaigns.

What is never covered is a more complicated corruption in the white community where member item funds and campaign contributions go through interlocking nonprofits, lobbyists and special interests developers. Umbrella nonprofits like Fidler’s Millennium Developers are just the tip of the iceberg of corruption; Emily Giske of Bolton-St. Johns, Parkside’s Evan Stavisky, Jeff Plaut’s Global Strategy, George Artz, Yoswein, Geto & De Milly, and Knickerbocker SKD help campaigns more than Councilman Hiram Monserrate’s nonprofit Libre get a free ride from the media’s corruption coverage.

Putting racial motives aside, it is clear that the owners of the mainstream media control how and when it reports on political corruption. Not one word has been printed about the councilmember items slush fund scandal since all the major papers’ editorial boards came out for extending term limits. Earlier this year, for a few months, there was a story almost every day about the council’s member item’s “little tin box”.

Fidler’s Member Item-Funded Nonprofit Reelection Industry is a Widespread Practice

The late former Assemblyman Tony Genovese, who made the Thomas Jefferson democratic club into a powerhouse with the late county leader Meade Esposito, invented the scheme which uses member items and other government funds to build political power for their club in their district. They set up an umbrella nonprofit called New Perspectives that received and distributed government funds to most of the local nonprofits in their community. Genovese wanted all power to emanate from his club. His clubhouse hack pal Alan Weisberg ran Perspectives. Genovese’s Assemblyman Stanley Friedman was the last elected official in the city to open up a district office outside the Jefferson Club. In the days of Tammany Hall all elected officials operated their district office out of the clubhouse. Genovese and Esposito’s genius created the umbrella nonprofit funded by the government tied to the clubhouse to keep the Thomas Jefferson Club powerful in an era in which most clubs were dying off.

Since that time, elected officials and consultants throughout the city have copied Genovese’s umbrella nonprofit model. Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez, an early protégé of Genovese, funds the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Center as an umbrella-type nonprofit with millions of dollars in government patronage to his district. Bolton-St. Johns’ Emily Giske uses the High Line and the health care industry to build an umbrella for her team, including $50,000 to Speaker Quinn for her mayoral campaign from High Line supporters. The Parkside Group used their relationship with former Speaker Miller, former Queens Democratic leader Tom Manton and convicted felon Brian McLaughlin to pull in over $7 million in consulting fees from nonprofits receiving council funding. Former Thomas Jefferson Club leader Bruce Bender, now working for as chief lobbyist for Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, helps fund Borough President Markowitz’s umbrella nonprofit Best of Brooklyn. Pedro Espada just defeated State Senator Efrain Gonzalez with the help of his nonprofit organization, Soundview Healthcare.

Fidler and the Jefferson Club’s Nonprofit Patronage Networks

After Genovese’s death New Perspectives got in financial trouble, so Fidler and the other new stewards of the Jefferson Club simply closed it down and transferred Perspectives’ functions to a new nonprofit, Millennium Development. Paul Curiale, the husband of Fidler’s council aide Debbie Malone, runs Millennium Development. Both are heavily involved in the operation of the Thomas Jefferson Club and regularly collect signatures for candidates endorsed by Fidler’s club.

Another way Fidler controlled government money was to appoint Georgia Hamilton, the wife of his driver Daniel MacBride, to Neighborhood Advisory Board 18. The board distributed city and federal youth money in Fidler’s district. Fidler knows a lot about how funds are distributed through the Neighborhood Advisorary Board system as chairman of the Council’s Youth Services Committee. With the Councilman’s knowledge, Hamilton illegally continued to serve on the Advisory Board after she moved out of the community. Fidler said in a recent blog post that he received the most discretionary funding last year at $985,000, and snagged a considerable amount of capital too, because he chairs the Youth Services Committee, which oversees a lot of the programs in the city that would be eligible for these types of grants. "Which is also why I am able to put together a pot of properly vetted discretionary items,” said Fidler.

What the Press Did Not Report

As Chair of the Youth Services Committee, Fidler oversaw the funding of the Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund. Two staffers of Councilman Kendall Stewart, including his chief of staff Asquith Reid, were indicted by U.S. Attorney García for skimming at least $145,000 from the Donna Reid fund, a charity that had received council funds. Fidler’s committee funded the Memorial Education Fund after the Department for the Aging rejected the group's application for city money in 2004 after noticing that its office address was identical to Asquith Reid's home address. Reid, like Fidler’s staffer Georgia Hamilton on Board 18, was a member of his Neighborhood Advisorary Board – Board 17 – which funded youth groups like Donna Reid in his community. Councilman Erik Martin Dilan’s North Brooklyn Community Council and Councilman Hiram Monserrate’s Libre are other nonprofits that have been funded with council funds dispensed by Fidler’s Youth Service Committee that have been written about in the press for their practice of hiring the councilmembers’ family members and helping in their reelection bids. Not one word has been written in the press about how the questionable funding was approved for these and other nonprofits by Fidler’s Youth Committee, which, by the way, he gets paid $10,000 extra a year for chairing.

Judging by a series of recent loses by the Thomas Jefferson Club, Fidler’s funding of the nonprofit Millennium network is about the only thing keeping the councilman’s club from falling apart. Last year, the club lost its control over the Brooklyn Surrogate Court when its candidate Judge Shawndya Simpson lost to Judge Diana Johnson. Judge Johnson only lost by 200 votes in the club’s 59th district and won in the Assembly District where Fidler is District Leader (the 41st AD) two to one. The Club’s former Assemblyman and Surrogate Judge Frank Seddio was pressured into retirement, according to The Daily News, because of illegal contributions from his Assembly account to Fidler and other elected officials of the Jefferson Club when he was running for the surrogate judgeship. The club lost the other Surrogate position in 2005 when Judge Margarita Lopez Torres beat their candidate. In addition, the Jefferson Club only managed to get 11% for the candidate it backed in the 2005 Democratic Mayoral Primary, Gifford Miller. In the General Election that same year, Fernando Ferrer, the Jefferson Club’s endorsed candidate, only got 27% in its district. Moreover, in 2001, the club’s candidate in the Democratic Primary runoff, Mark Green, failed to carry the Jefferson Club’s district or Fidler’s District Leader district. Finally, in the primary that same year, the club’s City Councilman Herbert Berman lost the controller’s race to William Thompson.

Fidler’s smart enough to know his good relationship with reporters allows him to get away with almost anything

Fidler represents a boutique niche market lending company called LawCash. Fidler’s cousin was made V.P. of the company right after he graduated college. New York Supreme Court Justice Ira Warshawsky said that LawCash, which advances money to plaintiffs while their civil lawsuits are pending, charges high usurious rates. The judge blasted LawCash for making a high-interest loan to a poor African-American family. LawCash has charged 50% or more in interest for one of their loans. Fidler’s loan company operates like subprime mortgages in that they both take advantage of the uninformed poor. A representative of LawCash said his firm can charge such high rates because, unlike banks, its money is "advanced," not lent, to plaintiffs, and this is a high-risk investment. When elected officials use their position to make money and deliberately fail to protect the public by promoting weak laws and regulations, the people suffer. Wall Street called derivatives trading “barter” instead of an insurance policy to avoid government regulations. Now the federal government must bail out that $600 trillion dollar business. Many of the high level consultant firms in the city today call their services education to avoid lobbying regulations. They make secret deals between each other in a type of exclusive “Star Chamber” that runs campaigns, nonprofits, and healthcare institutions without any legal requirement to report their cooperation on city or state financial forms.

Fidler is the District Leader in the 41th Assembly District, which has a minority population of at least 65%. Not only is the Councilman not protecting his own voters from high-interest lending operations, he profits from one. Yet the press reports that Councilman Fidler is fighting predatory lending. If you Google Fidler on predatory lending you will find articles that quote him speaking out against subprime mortgage lending. Fidler supported Frank Seddio for Surrogate Judge. Right after Seddio left the Surrogate Court he advertised in local newspapers his services to get homeowners subprime mortgages in Canarsie as a mortgage lawyer. According to Crain’s, Canarsie has the highest subprime default rate in the city. Fidler was also frequently quoted in the press how he was trying to reform Brooklyn’s corrupt judicial systems with a Blue Ribbon Commission, while he and his club backed every Norman machine judge, many of who were removed from the bench. Some went to jail.

What never gets printed in the press is how Fidler uses his control of nonprofit funding to eliminate political opposition in his community. When minority Assembly candidate H. R. Clark showed up to protest overdevelopment at a City Planning Commission’s local hearing in a building owned by a nonprofit funded with government funds, he was thrown out. According to neighborhood activist Mark Fertig, Fidler was under pressure by Assembly candidate H. R. Clark and community leaders since their meeting last year with mayoral candidate Tony Avella to downsize zoning in his district. To this day the area has not been downzoned. According to Fertig, all Fidler wanted to do is show the appearance of doing something while protecting his developer friends from downzoning.

Fidler has even figured out how to rip off the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to make money for his friends when he runs for reelection. Fidler wrote a letter to the CFB in 2003 to qualify for full campaign finance funding after the CFB ruled he would only get 25% of the matching funds because he did not have a serious primary or general election challenger. All that is needed to quality for full funding is a letter from the elected official to the CFB saying they have a competitive primary. Fidler got $82,500 in 2003 in matching funds, the full allowable amount, and went on to get 87% of the vote in his so-called “competitive race.” He wrote the same letter to the CFB in his 2005 reelection bid and received full public funding in both a primary and general election he won overwhelmingly.

Besides using the government for political gain Fidler has not show much loyalty to his supporters. Fidler supported Ferrer for mayor in 2005, going back on the endorsement commitment he gave to Gifford Miller after the Speaker passed that year’s city budget, which contained Fidler’s pork requests for his district. Two-timing is something Fidler has always been known for. He supported Anthony Weiner for City Council against his own cousin, Michael Garson. When Weiner’s council seat became vacant in 1998 after he was elected to congress, Fidler supported Michael Nelson against Irma Kramer, despite the fact that Kramer was one of Fidler’s earliest supporters.

Sometimes Fidler’s double crosses are a work of art. At the same time Fidler’s committee was funding Councilman Stewart’s indicted aide’s nonprofit, according to Wellington Sharpe, Stewart’s 2005 Council opponent, Fidler was helping Sharpe with his ballot access. Sharpe was later knocked off the ballot after Stewart’s lawyer brought him into court and produced a mortgage prepared by Fidler that was supposed to turn over a house to Sharpe’s kids, but actually showed Sharpe as the primary resident of the house, which was outside of Stewart’s district.

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

- Thomas Jefferson

The false way Fidler is covered by the media, while he rips off government funds to accumulate power is just a warning sign of how the press is endangering the lives of New Yorkers. Our City and Republic are in jeopardy because today’s media has abandoned its role of informing the public, leaving the people powerless to defend themselves. What the press did not tell the public during the term limits debate was that the two-term restrictions were voted for by a public that was upset with the corruption in the Koch Administration in the 1980’s and the role that the City’s impossible-to-defeat incumbents played in allowing that corruption. Now even that small safeguard against incumbent protection in our society is gone. George Orwell would have to write a new chapter in 1984 to explain how 34 City Councilmembers under investigation for illegally using the member items slush fund were able to receive press coverage that basically said that extending their time in office would increase choice, democracy and improve our economy.

Without an informed public, elected officials act like organized crime mobsters, working against the voters’ needs for personal gain. They create government-funded umbrella-type nonprofit reelection organizations to stay in office. They also create a dysfunctional, unregulated government with no legal accountability to carry out their greedy friends’ scams to make money at the cost of the public good. Our city would be a lot better off if it listened to a few independent voices about the dangers of repealing the Glass-Spiegel Act, rather then constantly devoting their coverage to political celebrities and their meaningless news conferences.

Look at what Gordon Gecko’s greed has done to Wall Street. New York City is next!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

WATCH: (or scroll down for longer transcript)

The last time America saw Will Ferrell as Bush was in April at an autism fundraiser. Ferrell is set to play Bush on Broadway next year.


Wilshire Credit Corporation seems to have experienced credit problems of it's own:

Capital Consultants collapsed after Wiederhorn's Wilshire Credit Corp. borrowed $160 million and failed to repay the money.
A criminal investigation continues in the case.

In Capital Consultants settlement, Wilshire to buy back share of credit subsidiary
Business Journal of Portland, May 14, 2002

As part of its settlement of civil litigation over the Capital Consultants collapse, Wilshire Financial Services Group (OTCBB: WFSG) said it will buy back the half ownership of subsidiary Wilshire Credit Corp. held by Capital Consultant's receiver.

The agreement calls for former Wilshire executives Andrew Wiederhorn and Larry Mendohlson and their families and the executives' current company, Fog Cutter Capital Group, to pay $29.5 million to the victims of the Capital Consultants debacle, according to a Wilshire document filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Wilshire will pay an additional $10.5 million to recover the 49.99 percent share of Wilshire Credit Corp. held by the receiver, making WCC again a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wilshire.

The cash cost to Wilshire of the settlement and stock acquisition will total about $15 million, the company said, plus a share of the proceeds from the anticipated sale of a piece of real property. Wilshire said it expects to accrue a first-quarter 2002 pre-tax expense of $3.6 million in connection with the agreement, "expected to eliminate most of the company's future costs arising from" the Capital Consultants affair.

The agreement involving the Wilshire-related parties is part of a much broader settlement negotiated between many defendants involved in the litigation over Capital Consultants, a Portland money management firm accused of losing hundreds of millions of dollars, primarily from labor union trust funds, in Ponzi-like schemes. Eleven other parties, including major law and accounting firms, joined Wilshire in settling claims.

The 12 defendants participating in the settlement, backed in large part by their insurance companies, will pay a total of $110 million, the Oregonian reported Tuesday. Combined with previous settlements and asset sales, the agreement should yield 57 cents for every dollar lost by Capital Consultants.

In the mid-1990s, the Portland firm loaned $160 million of its clients' money to a subsidiary of Wilshire Financial Services Group Inc., which was based in Beaverton. But money troubles started piling up for Wilshire Financial, and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in March 1999.
YFP. Now, imagine the irony. New York City homeowners are now begin foreclosed upon by a company, Wilshire Financial Corporation, that declared bankruptcy itself in 1999.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Potemtial Election Day Violence

The News

Police prepare for unrest
By Alexander Bolton
Posted: 10/21/08 07:58 PM [ET]
Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.

Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.

Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand officers wanting to keep the peace, but caution that excessive police presence could intimidate voters.

Sen. Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has seen his lead over rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grow in recent weeks, prompting speculation that there could be a violent backlash if he loses unexpectedly.

Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed.

In Oakland, the police will deploy extra units trained in riot control, as well as extra traffic police, and even put SWAT teams on standby.

“Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland Police Department.

“I think it is a big deal — you got an African-American running and [a] woman running,” he added, in reference to Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. “Whoever wins it, it will be a national event. We will have more officers on the street in anticipation that things may go south.”

The Oakland police last faced big riots in 2003 when the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Officials are bracing themselves in case residents of Oakland take Obama’s loss badly.

Political observers such as Hilary Shelton and James Carville fear that record voter turnout could overload polling places on Election Day and could raise tension levels.

Shelton, the director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, said inadequate voting facilities is a bigger problem in poor communities with large numbers of minorities.

“What are local election officials doing to prepare for what people think will be record turnout at the polls?” said Shelton, who added that during the 2004 election in Ohio voters in predominantly black communities had to wait in line six to eight hours to vote.

“On Election Day, if this continues, you may have some tempers flare; we should be prepared to deal with that but do it without intimidation,” said Shelton, who added that police have to be able to maintain order at polling stations without scaring voters, especially immigrants from “police states.”

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Many years ago, Louisiana, like the rest of the south was segregated. However, the musicians always managed to get along in their own world. This is prevalent today more than ever. The magic of Barack Obama has galvanized the country. This video clip depicts Zaydeco musicians from Louisiana.

Monday, October 20, 2008


New York State Ramapo Police Commission puts off modified schedules for officers By: Steve Lieberman - Friday, October 17th, 2008 'The Journal News' / White Plains, NY RAMAPO

Ramapo officials yesterday made no decisions on requests from 40 police officers for revised work schedules based on their religious beliefs and personal needs. Ramapo officials and police administrators opened the door for specific days off when they gave Orthodox Jewish Officer Baile Glauber off on Friday nights and Saturdays for the Sabbath. Glauber got those days off two weeks after starting in June. At the same time, department administrators have not yet scheduled Officer Ernst Tenemille for Friday nights and Saturdays off after the Police Commission approved that schedule for him last month.

Tenemille asked for those days off in June after Glauber got approved. Tenemille contends his beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist warrant those days off. Police Chief Peter Brower said yesterday that Tenemille has not yet responded to his memo seeking specifics on his requests for days off. "I sent a memo to officer Tenemille asking him about his needs," Brower said. "He has to send me a list of all the days he needs and any conflicts. I have yet to hear from Officer Tenemille." Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Councilwoman Frances Hunter yesterday sided with Brower. Hunter, who pushed for Tenemille to get his religious days off, said Tenemille has to follow department protocol and put his request through the chief.

Police union President Dennis Procter said the department still was playing games with Tenemille after putting off his request for months. Procter said Tenemille has made his position clear for months on what days he wants off. The Policemen's Benevolent Association already has filed a grievance against the town for violating the police contract by negotiating separate work schedules with Glauber. A state arbitrator will hear both sides next month in Albany. Procter said yesterday that the town continues to give Glauber special treatment in violation of the union contract.

Traditionally, he said, police officers work religious and secular holidays and weekends off and on, depending on their rank and seniority. Procter says officers agree to those terms when they join the force. "She's the only one getting an accommodation and it's in violation of our contract," Procter said (***and the U.S. Constitution). "Our position is everyone has to be treated equally. And any changes in policy must be negotiated with the union. They have negotiated with the individual officers." St. Lawrence told PBA officials and 50 officers at the meeting that the commission would consider all requests yesterday.

The commission comprises Town Board members. St. Lawrence said yesterday that Brower is working on an overall policy that would allow all 124 officers to put in for religious days off throughout the year. St. Lawrence said the plan involves an absence without pay program that would meet state and federal law, as well as the police contract provisions. Under that concept, officers could take off religious days without pay after using up all their contracted days off for personal reasons, family emergencies and vacations. Procter said the union supports Brower's efforts to come up with a policy that treats all the officers the same.

Procter yesterday criticized the town for devising a policy without input from the union - which Procter said is necessary under the police contract. Only Councilman David Stein supported a committee that included the union and possibly himself to work with the chief and town attorney on the plan. Stein said he was not happy with setting up special schedules for the two officers. He wanted a policy that works for all the officers. Hunter last month suggested an overall policy rather than the commission making decisions on individual officers.

St. Lawrence and Hunter said the union will be involved eventually in the discussions. "The policy we will come up with will be the same for every officer," St. Lawrence said. "The contract, we believe, allows the chief to set schedules." St. Lawrence said the commission would meet in special session as soon as the chief finishes up the policy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out "Crowd Control"
Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they didn't pass the bailout bill. This will not be the last time.
By Naomi Wolf

08/10/08 "AlterNet" -- Background: the First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, three to four thousand soldiers, has been deployed in the United States as of October 1. Their stated mission is the form of crowd control they practiced in Iraq, subduing "unruly individuals," and the management of a national emergency. I am in Seattle and heard from the brother of one of the soldiers that they are engaged in exercises now.

Amy Goodman reported that an Army spokesperson confirmed that they will have access to lethal and non lethal crowd control technologies and tanks.George Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, thus making it legal for military to patrol the U.S. He has also legally established that in the "War on Terror," the U.S. is at war around the globe and thus the whole world is a battlefield. Thus the U.S. is also a battlefield.He also led change to the 1807 Insurrection Act to give him far broader powers in the event of a loosely defined "insurrection" or many other "conditions" he has the power to identify.

The Constitution allows the suspension of habeas corpus -- habeas corpus prevents us from being seized by the state and held without trial -- in the event of an "insurrection." With his own army force now, his power to call a group of protesters or angry voters "insurgents" staging an "insurrection" is strengthened.U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California said to Congress, captured on C-Span and viewable on YouTube, that individual members of the House were threatened with martial law within a week if they did not pass the bailout bill.

"The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day and a couple of thousand on the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no."If this is true and Rep. Sherman is not delusional, I ask you to consider that if they are willing to threaten martial law now, it is foolish to assume they will never use that threat again.

It is also foolish to trust in an orderly election process to resolve this threat. And why deploy the First Brigade? One thing the deployment accomplishes is to put teeth into such a threat.I interviewed Vietnam veteran, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and patriot David Antoon for clarification:"If the President directed the First Brigade to arrest Congress, what could stop him?""Nothing. Their only recourse is to cut off funding. The Congress would be at the mercy of military leaders to go to them and ask them not to obey illegal orders.""But these orders are now legal?'""Correct.""If the President directs the First Brigade to arrest a bunch of voters, what would stop him?""Nothing. It would end up in courts but the action would have been taken.""If the President directs the First Brigade to kill civilians, what would stop him?""Nothing.""What would prevent him from sending the First Brigade to arrest the editor of the Washington Post?""Nothing. He could do what he did in Iraq -- send a tank down a street in Washington and fire a shell into the Washington Post as they did into Al Jazeera, and claim they were firing at something else."

"What happens to members of the First Brigade who refuse to take up arms against U.S. citizens?""They'd probably be treated as deserters as in Iraq: arrested, detained and facing five years in prison. In Iraq a study by Ann Wright shows that deserters -- reservists who refused to go back to Iraq -- got longer sentences than war criminals.""Does Congress have any military of their own?""No. Congress has no direct control of any military units. The Governors have the National Guard but they report to the President in an emergency that he declares.""Who can arrest the President?""The Attorney General can arrest the President after he leaves or after impeachment." Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has asserted it is possible for District Attorneys around the country to charge President Bush with murder if they represent districts where one or more military members who have been killed in Iraq formerly resided.]"Given the danger do you advocate impeachment?""Yes. President Bush struck down Posse Comitatus -- which has prevented, with a penalty of two years in prison, U.S. leaders since after the Civil War from sending military forces into our streets -- with a 'signing statement.'

He should be impeached immediately in a bipartisan process to prevent the use of military forces and mercenary forces against U.S. citizens""Should Americans call on senior leaders in the Military to break publicly with this action and call on their own men and women to disobey these orders?""Every senior military officer's loyalty should ultimately be to the Constitution. Every officer should publicly break with any illegal order, even from the President.""But if these are now legal. If they say, 'Don't obey the Commander in Chief,' what happens to the military?""Perhaps they would be arrested and prosecuted as those who refuse to participate in the current illegal war. That's what would be considered a coup.""But it's a coup already.""Yes."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


By Gary Tilzer

Councilman Domenic M. Recchia told the New York Times on October 7th that he favors the extension of term limits, “A lot of us Council members feel that passing it through legislation is giving ample opportunity to the voters of the city to voice their opinions.” He added: “If the voters don’t like their council member, they can vote him out of office. And if they don’t like the mayor, they can get rid of him too.”

Dominic knows that if term limits passes he will be reelected. Dominic knows that 95% of the incumbents who ran for reelection in the 2005 City Council elections were reelected. Only Allan Jennings, who was censured on sexual harassment, was defeated that year and that was by a former incumbent, Thomas White Jr. “Incumbents have a taxpayer-financed staff, which may act as a public relations operation; the ability to mail newsletters to constituents,” Ron Lauder said in a 1993 letter to the New York Times. “Thus we have noncompetitive races, members increasingly insulated from constituent pressure and ossification of municipal government.” Lauder did not even get into the unfair advantages that incumbents get from redistricting, member items and New York’s election system.

Memo to the Times: Dominic is A Special Interest

“Journalism's ultimate purpose is to inform the reader, to bring him each day a letter from home and never to permit the serving of special interests,” proclaimed Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, former New York Times publisher. Will the Times, which blindly printed Recchia’s quotes without offering analysis, mislead the public in an attempt to mold public opinion to support its goal of another term for Mayor Bloomberg? A proper attempt to inform the public of the unfair advantages incumbents have and a review of the dirty tricks that Recchia has used over the years to repress his opposition would let its readers know what the Councilman already knows: that if term limits are extended he is a lock at reelection.

The Missing Analysis

In 2003, after Dr. Oleg Gutnik, running (2001) on the Republican line, came very close to becoming the first GOP candidate to win in Recchia’s 47th Council District in a hundred years, Recchia hatched a plan to divide the Russian community. The Councilman made a backroom deal with the Redistricting Commission, controlled by former Council Speaker Gifford Miller, to cut about 33% of the Russian voters out of his district.

4 reasons for Recchia’s weakness in his district:

1. He was only elected with less than 30% of the vote

2. His opponents, all Jewish, split the Jewish vote

3. The Italian neighborhoods were becoming Russian

4. The Russian citizens were increasingly registering to vote

Recchia Hooks Up with the Corrupt Norman Machine

After redistricting, Recchia conspired with the corrupt Clarence Norman-led Brooklyn machine to throw his opponent, Russian candidate Tony Eisenberg, off the ballot. Eisenberg was thrown off the ballot after a judge picked by Norman ruled he did not live in the district. The election law says a candidate for City Council can live anywhere during a redistricting year, which 2003 was. However, the law was no obstacle to a Norman judge. Recchia appeared shortly after removing Eisenberg from the ballot at a rally backing Norman, who was indicted by Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes for selling judgeships.

In 2005 after a New York Post reporter wrote a story about community leaders making a complaint to DA Hynes Assembly was not a legal resident of his district. They charged Lopez renting a tiny room in a home of a director of a non-profit he funded to maintain a legal residence, voting several times there. The net result of the charges to the DA was the county leader moved out of his single room to a real apartment and the reporter left the paper. If I were John J. O’Hara I would run for county leader to get my illegal voting conviction overturned.

In 2003, Recchia still managed to spend $82,500 in city matching funds, despite not having had a primary opponent and receiving 75% of the General Election vote. Recchia spent $35,000 on the election lawyer to throw Eisenberg off the ballot, $3,500 to hire a private investigator against Eisenberg, and $2,500 in rent to his own wife.

Recchia Uses Government Funds and the Election Law to Wear Out Opposition

Recchia has distributed millions in member funds from the Council, Mayor’s Office and capital budget throughout his district to buy political support. He has worked with a team of political supporters who have moved Russian polling sites and threaten poll workers to make it harder for the new immigrant community to organize and vote. The Russian activists who were organizing campaigns in Brighton Beach got tired of spending money and worn out from all the dirty political tricks Recchia and his friends play against them. Several said the machine was worse than the KGB in the Soviet Union. It was not until I met with Congressman Nadler in the winter of 2006 about how the dirty tricks against the Russian community were hurting any chance of reversing the declining Jewish vote in Brooklyn that Adele Cohen was talked out of running for reelection to the Assembly and Alex Brook-Krasny, the first Russian-American Assemblyman, was allowed to succeed her.

Being Councilman Has Been Good for Recchia’s Business

Recchia, the lawyer, is the top outside money earner in the City Council. In 2006, Citizens Union reported that Recchia has an outside income of over $210,000. In addition to the near quarter of a million he takes in, he receives a salary of $100,000 as a Councilman, plus $10,000 more for chairing the Council’s Libraries & International Intergroup Relations committee. Recchia has done very well for someone who graduated from a law school that was not accredited at the time he graduated from it. If the neighborhood buzz is true, Recchia’s tenure as President of Community School Board 21 was also good for his well-being.

Dominic is Only for Dominic

Recchia’s biggest backer, at least in terms of campaign contributions, is the developer who wants to turn historical Coney Island into a co-op project. Most of last year, developer Joe Sitt of Thor Equities pushed Recchia for U.S. Congress. But Recchia decided not to run after Rep. Vito Fossella dropped out of the race - when it was discovered

Fossella has a second family - and backers of Councilman Michael McMahon applied pressure to Recchia to have McMahon replace him. Despite Sitt’s longtime support for Recchia, by voting to extend his time in office to a third term, the Councilman is now destroying Sitt’s plan to build housing in Coney Island. The biggest opponent of Sitt’s plan is Mayor Bloomberg, the City’s staunchest advocate for keeping Coney Island an amusement park district. If Bloomberg stays another term, Thor Equities is likely to lose the battle to reshape Coney Island.

Term Limits were designed to stop elected officials like Dominic Recchia, who use elected office for selfish gain. Now our dysfunctional press is giving a man, who some Russians call the “Butcher of Brighton”, the right to extend his own term without comment or question. Just like in the Soviet Union we left,” sighed a Russian senior woman after a deep exhale.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Council Speaker Quinn Picks Quiet Sunday to Sell Out Voters on Term Limits

Anyone paying attention knew how City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stood on the Mayor's scheme to extend term limits long before Bloomberg formally announced his intentions. Today, Quinn used the political cover of a slow Sunday news cycle to make public her embarrassing position.

Surprise, surprise. She's for staying Speaker another four years.

Once upon a time, Quinn would have said "no" to extending term limits.
Almost three years ago, she roared into the second most powerful job in the City with all the promise that being both New York City's first female and first LGBT Council Speaker carried with it. She was a darling of the City's progressives - a dynamic figure that would set the City free of the pro-establishment tilt that had long characterized the Council. The day she got into office the buzz that she would be New York's next Mayor began.

Then reality reared its ugly head. Quinn quickly became everything her supporters abhorred. She turned her back on progressives, good government advocates and the LGBT community. Instead, she decided to replace Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum as the Mayor's most obedient ally. As the Times reports, "Jokes about Ms. Quinn being a deputy mayor in the Bloomberg administration abound in the Council."

But that was just the beginning of Quinn's fall from grace. Up until several months ago, Quinn still had illusions (or delusions) of becoming New York City's first female Mayor. Then came the slush fund scandal. Under Quinn's leadership, the Council expanded its longtime illegal practice of "squirreling away millions of dollars in the name of made-up organizations". If you don't understand why that's so bad, check out this article.

Quinn tried to blame the scandal on two of her aides, but no one except the most gullible of reporters was buying. The steady stream of big money contributions Quinn was getting in preparation for a Mayoral run quickly started to dry up. Two of Brooklyn Councilman Kendall Stewart's top aides got indicted for their role in the bogus bonanza. Quinn, herself, hired a criminal defense attorney, using City funds to do so.

In short, Quinn's dreams of Gracie Mansion fell apart. She could never run for Mayor now that a major investigation and the word "scandal" hung heavily over her head. The end of her Council term in 2009 was shaping up to be the end of her political career.

Enter Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor's proposal to save his own job was a godsend for Quinn. Four more years would mean that Quinn could have a chance at redemption - a chance for people to forget. If she could escape the slush fund scandal unscathed (I wonder if Mayor Mike might help her here?), four years from now she might once again be a viable candidate for mayor. Gosh darn it to heck, it worked good enough for John McCain to win his party's nomination for President twenty years after the Keating Five scandal almost sunk him.

Four years from now expect to hear Mayoral candidate Quinn argue that all is forgotten. Whether it will be is up to government investigators and, of course, you to decide.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


A Letter to Garcia: (Michael) Garcia U.S. Attorney

From Gary Tilzer

An addition of an extra term for city officials will have a chilling effect on competition for elective office, worsening a political system in the City which is already on life support. The immediate critical problem is not that less than 1% of registered voters during the last primary had a choice at the polls; it is the centralization of control in the hands of a new breed of powerbrokers that has evolved since the corruption scandal uncovered in the 1980’s in the Koch administration.

Only one man can stop this elite gang of elected officials, party leaders, lobbyists and their clients from a complete takeover of New York City’s budget and political system: Michael Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. Garcia, whose office is mostly known for convicting members of violent organized crime families, must not let the city’s secret powerbrokers end his investigation of the City Council’s member item slush fund scandal. Mr. Garcia, you have assembled valuable resources to stop this new ruling gang from continuing to loot the City’s budget. You must use the power in your hands to do so now. It was the municipal scandal of the 80’s that led to the term limits reform not the money of Ron Lauder

Will Garcia Uncover a New Municipal Scandal to Rival NJ U.S. Attorney Christie’s Accomplishments?

A new type of lobbyists maneuver unregulated through city government causing the same kind of damage to our city as Wall Street investment bankers have done to the nation’s banking system. They scheme around unclear rules, limited regulations and non-existent oversight deliberately left vague by elected officials to benefit themselves and make money for their campaign contributors. But while damages to Wall Street are easy to show, this corruption, though just as harmful, is much harder to prove.

Starting a decade ago, a small group (ten or less) of campaign consultants like the Parkside Group began to function as lobbyists specializing in obtaining City Council funding. From 2002 to 2006, Parkside Group made over $7 million dollars by lobbying for over 40 non-profits that were funded by member items and developers who force their projects on unwilling communities. This new class of power players not only influences policy, which they are supposed to do as lobbyists, they are actually choosing the government officials who will then turn around and act on behalf of clients whose interests firms like Parkside represent. (footnotes: 1, 2, & 3) (

Campaign operatives took on the role of lobbyists after ethics rules issued after the Koch scandals in the Parking Violations Bureau—which involved two of the five county leaders—boxed out party leaders and elected officials (except Anthony Seminerio, one of your new targets, Mr. Garcia) from profiting, at least directly, from those doing business with the City.

It what can only be described as local triangulation, the combining of the campaign consultant and lobbyist has had a chilling effect on independent politics, reform and the will of the people. The city’s elected officials, wealthy establishment and lobbyist-consultants have all joined together to ignore the choice of the people to have the system of two term limits that they voted for twice in the last 15 years. With the efficiency of the Soviet Union they have sent independent political leaders to Siberia. And some, like me, have even met worse fates. Only a new municipal corruption scandal will galvanize the public pressure necessary to update the City’s ethic rules to regulate these new super lobbyist-consultants and give the citizens of New York back their government and democracy.

Why Term Limits Exist

Term limits, the most important government reform in the modern history of New York City, were instituted in 1987 after then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani convicted lobbyists and government officials for turning the Parking Violations Bureau into a “racketeering enterprise.” Giuliani proved that City commissioners loyal to Queens Borough President and Democratic Leader Donald Manes permitted Bronx County Leader Stanley Friedman and his business partners to win a $22 million contract for a company called Citisource to build a hand-held computer for parking meters, even though Citisource had no assets, no employees, and not a single computer.

The public’s vote in two separate elections for limiting City officials to two terms was a response to then-Mayor Koch conspiring with the Queens and Bronx Democratic County Leaders to shake down a City agency in return for their support for Koch’s election and reelection bids. The term limit reform theory was that turnover in elective office would prevent future takeover of city agencies. What the reformers did not foresee was the creation of lobbyist-consultants and their subsequent alliance with the county leaders and elected officials to centralize power and take over the entire City government..

In 1984, I wrote an editorial in a small newspaper I managed called Talking Turkey, which uncovered the corruption inside the Parking Violations Bureau. At the time, my story was ignored for two years by the City’s press until Queens Borough President Manes attempted suicide on the eve of his indictment by Giuliani. It is creepy that over 24 years later, despite clear anecdotal evidence, knowledge of a corruption investigation by your office and the hiring of criminal lawyers by present and former Council leaders, the member item corruption story is still being ignored by the press. I wrote the Parking Violations editorial at that time because the mainstream media was ignoring government corruption in the city. Two decades later, amazing as it may see, I am publishing this government corruption story on a blog, because we have an even more oppressively controlled media in this town than we did then. (footnote: 5)


Hoist Them By Their Own Petard:

Member Items

The reason the Council Members hired lawyers right away is because they know you have two atomic bombs in your hand, Mr. Garcia. What would be more fitting than to use the member items which the Council Member’s now use to ensure their reelection, to catch consultants/lobbyist in a conspiracy to rip off from the rip off (member items). While he continues to wait for his sentencing, former Queens Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin could offer great insight into how his former chief of staff Evan Stavisky operates the Parkside Group. Evan Stavisky, son of Queens State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, is one of the partners in Parkside Group. Since McLaughlin teamed up with Stavisky to cut themselves into the county machine, leading to the success of the lobbyist-consultant operation, it is fair to reason after reading your indictment of Mr. McLaughlin that the Assemblyman micromanaged and took a piece of everything he was involved in. McLaughlin even paid Parkside to lobby for the Central Labor Council, when he was the Labor Council’s president. It is a slam dunk that McLaughlin can do more to break up the monopoly that secretly operates New York City than Frank Lucas did for breaking up the corruption in the NYPD narcotics squad in the 70’s. (Footnotes: 1, 5, 6, 7 & 8)


Parkside’s former President Harry Giannoulis helped Gifford Miller become speaker in 2002 and also assisted him in picking his chief of staff. Giannoulis quietly left Parkside several months ago. (footnotes: 9&10)

We know according to Citizens Union that several political consultants like Parkside took on a second role as a lobbyist when Gifford Miller became speaker. Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a nonprofit civic group that has no budget request before the city, said the competition for money among nonprofits had "created this frenzy" to hire lobbyists out of a belief that doing so would increase their chances of securing appropriations. He also expressed concern about what he called "a growing problem" of council members being lobbied by firms that serve as political consultants to many of them. "It's a closed circle of influence that is totally inappropriate," Dadey said. (footnotes: 1, 11 &12)

What Else Did Fast and Loose Speaker Miller

Do With the Public’s Money?

We know according to a report by the Comptroller that Speaker Miller played fast and loose with the city’s budget and rules. An audit charged that Miller split $1.67 million into several smaller contracts to avoid competitive bidding requirements for a mailing that touted the Speaker’s accomplishments. (footnotes: 13 &14)

We know that Miller combined fundraising and lobbyists to work together to benefit his campaign for mayor in 2005. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's fundraising effort for mayor operated for 15 months in an office that housed the same lobbying firm that was also working on his campaign for Mayor. (footnotes: 13, 14 & 15)

Who made the decision in the Council’s finance office on who got member item funding? Did certain lobbyists get preferred treatment?

The second bomb in your hands is Councilman Kendall Stewart’s former chief of staff, Asquith Reid, who, like McLaughlin, has also become a customer of yours. Reid's attorney told a Manhattan federal judge Friday that he has no plans to go to trial on charges that Reid embezzled more than $145,000 in public funds. He faces more than 80 years in prison for allegedly stealing the cash from tax money Stewart allocated over three years to the Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund, a nonprofit group. The indictment said employees in the New York City Department for the Aging initially rejected the group's application for city money in 2004 after noticing that its office address was identical to Asquith Reid's home address. The group then reapplied for city funds through the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. That request was granted. Some of the money passed through fictitious groups created by the City Council before being awarded to the fund. (footnotes: 16, 17)

City Council Finance Committee Chair (and New York City Comptroller candidate) David Weprin said these “fictitious groups,” never came before his committee or the Council as a whole – it was merely the work of a “couple of staff people.” (footnote: 18)

An Open Secret?

For the six years Council Speaker Christine Quinn served on the Council prior to the discovery of the slush fund scandal, where did Speaker Quinn and the other Council Members think they were getting the money to fund additional nonprofits after the passage of the annual budget? Friends and co-workers of two former City Council staffers accused of disobeying orders to scrap a phantom budget system fumed that they're being scapegoated. The two, Michael Keogh and Staci Emanuel, left after Council Speaker Christine Quinn said they ignored instructions to stop reserving millions of taxpayer dollars under the names of fictional organizations so the funds could be dispersed later to genuine nonprofit groups. The Speaker’s finance director, Michael Keogh, immediately joined Bolton-St. Johns, the second most successful lobbying firm in the City. Mr. Keogh is already listed on the City’s database as the contact person for the non-profit High Line, which this year received $290,000 in member item funding from the slush fund, sponsored by Speaker Quinn.

City records show Friends of the High Line also received $290,000 from the Council for borough needs in 2005 and 2006 and millions more from the capital budget. It is not know if Quinn was the sponsor of these funds or if these funds also came from fictitious nonprofits, because until this year, sponsors weren’t publicly listed on member items. It is still a secret who the sponsors of the much larger capital budget contracts are. What is known it that Friends of the High Line has contributed more than $50,000 to Quinn and $60,000 to Miller since 1999.

The New York Times called the member items hidden in the fake nonprofits “Potemkin Accounts”. The Times editorial from April 5th, 2008 said: “The device was apparently designed to allow the City Council speaker to hand out funds for pet projects throughout the year, getting around a requirement to allocate money at the start of the fiscal year. While it does not seem as if the public’s money was spent illegally, it does seem likely that political favors were bestowed without accountability… Quinn says she was disobeyed when she ordered her staff to stop stashing ghost funds last spring (two top finance aides later departed for undisclosed reasons). She says she tried to stop the phony allocations, something her predecessors, Peter Vallone and Gifford Miller, did not do. But she was oddly ineffectual.” What the Times did not address was how Miller’s policy of creating fake nonprofits to park member item funds not only continued, but the number of made-up organizations in the budget doubled after Quinn became Speaker and replaced the previous financial director and 40% of her staff. “Finally, last fall,” the same Times editorial continued, Quinn “alerted the United States attorney’s office and the city’s Department of Investigation, who were already examining other council-related finances. That action was late in coming.” The Times called for a “full investigation”. We fully agree. (footnote: 19, 20, 21, 22 & 23)

Spin Masters Replaces Service and Influence Network

These new “lobbyist-consultants” have risen to a level of power that rivals old-time Tammany leaders like Carmine DeSapio. But what makes these campaign consultants different—and more dangerous—is that they are beholden to no one. The old political machines needed to provide services to working families, because they depended upon their vote to survive. Lobbyist-consultants, on the other hand, rely on spin, polls and special interests to keep the money flowing in for their summer homes in the Hamptons


From Angry New Yorker to Disconnected Wimp

The old machine’s network operated from the bottom up giving the average Joe a voice, the spin masters have destroyed that system and changed the culture of government. Today New York’s government has become a Potemkin Village controlled by insiders, blocking everyman’s influence and ability to pressure government for there needs.

Local district attorneys, who rely on the same lobbyists-consultants and local elected officials for their reelection campaigns, conveniently look the other way on this type of insider trading. Even the city’s Conflict of Interest Board retreated under pressure from lobbyists when they tried in 2005 to restrict lobbying of elected officials by consultants who work on their campaigns. Only a U.S. Attorney has the independence to prosecute the racketeering scam that is pretending to be our government. (footnote: 4)

The future of New York City is in your hands,

Mr. Garcia


All New Yorkers


Getting help to end government corruption is as difficult as President McKinley’s efforts to win the Spanish American War by sending a messenger with a letter in 1898 to seek the help of rebel leader General Garcia hiding in the mountains of Cuba.

Dedicated to Jack Newfield, the father of modern investigative journalism in this town

Sidebar News Articles . . .

1. We know the Parkside Group was formed around the 2001 election“In Queens, the Parkside Group leads the newcomers in attracting candidates. Evan Stavisky, Bill Driscoll and Harry Giannoulis bring their years of political experience together to represent dozen-plus odd Council candidates.” -Queens Tribune, July 12, 2001

2. We know that Parkside took in 7.5 Million from 2001 to 2006"As the city examines the power that lobbyists exert on municipal government, new figures show the top influence-peddlers are hauling in big bucks. According to a list compiled by the Citizens Union and obtained by The Post, the Parkside Group is the city's top-billing lobbying or consulting group, having earned $7.5 million in fees since 2001." -New York Post, February 3, 2006

3. Top Lobbyists

New York Observer, June 7, 2007 The City Clerk’s office just put out its annual report on lobbying. Here are the Top Ten Lobbyists for 2006: Kasirer Consulting Revenue: $3,020,645.79, Bolton St. Johns, Inc Revenue: $2,462,786, Parkside Group Revenue: $2,358,950, Greenberg Traurig Revenue: $2,233,433.34, Law Offices of Claudia Wagner Revenue: $2,162,200, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP Revenue: 41,857,925, Constantinople Consulting Revenue: $$1,649,500, Connelly McLaughlin Revenue: $1,418,900, Geto & De Milly, Inc. Revenue: $1,323,996, Yoswein New York, Inc. Revenue: $1,187,000

4. Conflicts of Interest Board Rescinds Memo on Lobbying“Under pressure from lobbying-and-consulting firms, the city's Conflicts of Interest Board has backed away from its first attempt to restrict lobbying of elected officials by consultants who work on their campaigns. The board caused a stir in political circles in January when it issued a memo reminding municipal employees of the ethical rules for taking part in campaigns, which included a new admonition against lobbying by political consultants. It said consultants hired by public officials “may not lobby or in any other way communicate” with those officials on behalf of private clients. . . The Parkside Group, for instance, has worked on the campaigns of more than a dozen City Council members, including the speaker, Gifford Miller, and has also lobbied the Council on behalf of private clients. . . .Mr. Rosenkranz (lawyer hired to represent lobbyist against the conflict of interest board) declined to say which lobbyist-consultants he was representing, although others involved in the case said Parkside was among them.” –New York Times, March 3, 2005

5. We know that Speakers Miller and Quinn and the rest of the City Council have hired criminal lawyers to represent them“Gifford Miller, the former City Council speaker, has hired a criminal defense lawyer to represent him in a federal investigation into the Council’s longstanding practice of allocating millions of dollars to phantom nonprofit groups, people involved in the case said on Friday. The Council, which had hired a criminal lawyer to represent itself in the inquiry by federal prosecutors and the City Department of Investigation, recently hired another one to represent staff members who were being questioned, several of the people said. The two lawyers, along with a third criminal defense lawyer representing the current speaker, Christine C. Quinn, are being paid with city funds; Mr. Miller’s lawyer, Henry Putzel III, is not.” –New York Times, May 17, 2008

6. The Press should be Reading the Press and Connecting the Dots About eight years ago, Brian McLaughlin and his former chief of staff Parkside’s Evan Stavisky went on an attack against the leaders of the Queens organization. There were a series of newspapers articles in the New York Sun claiming that all the leaders lived on Long Island. The late Thomas Manton and his co-leaders in the Queens organization did what they always do to avoid trouble: made a deal to combine forces with McLaughlin and Stavisky.

7. We know McLaughlin took a piece for himself of everything he was involved in“The former head of the nation’s biggest municipal labor council painstakingly detailed years of thievery from his own union and the state on Friday as he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in federal court in Manhattan.” The thievery included stealing $95,000 from Little League baseball teams to pay his rent, to stealing from own his labor union, to brazenly creating two no-show jobs on his legislative payroll and keeping part of one of their salaries. – New York Times, March 8, 2008

8. We know that McLaughlin is in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney to reduce his prison sentence“Disgraced ex-lawmaker and union boss Brian McLaughlin is a secret witness in an FBI probe that led to Wednesday's arrest of a Queens’s pol on influence-peddling charges, the Daily News has learned. The ongoing investigation - which featured an undercover FBI agent trolling the Assembly floor for corrupt pols - has snared its first collar: Assemblyman Seminerio (D-Ozone Park). Sources familiar with the investigation said McLaughlin, a former assemblyman who pleaded guilty to bribery charges and faces up to 10 years in prison, is cooperating in the probe.” –New York Daily News, September 10, 2008

9. We know that The Parkside Group’s President Harry Giannoulis helped Gifford Miller become Council Speaker "Gifford represents a completely new paradigm," said Harry Gianoulis [sic], a consultant who helped coordinate Mr. Miller's campaign for Speaker. "It's consistent with the way that all of these new guys think that he took a multi-track approach and tried to talk to everyone, instead of saying 'I've got Queens and the Bronx' and ignoring everything outside that target audience. He started early with his campaigning, and he didn't make enemies. The old model doesn't work anymore, where you sit on your ass and wait for a county leader to pick you." –The New York Observer, Jan. 13, 02

10. Miller got help from Parkside’s lobbyist in finding his new chief of staff and that Parkside is getting paid from both sides"The position is traditionally that of gatekeeper and top adviser to one of the city's most powerful officials. . . The lobbyist, Harry E. Giannoulis, a partner in the Parkside Group, a lobbying and political consulting firm, said yesterday that while he did not believe he had played a pivotal role in helping Mr. Miller choose his chief of staff, he had given the speaker advice on what to look for in a candidate and had advised some potential applicants to seek the job. He also participated in meetings at which candidates were discussed, according to Mr. Miller's staff. Mr. Giannoulis wears two hats, one as a consultant helping candidates get elected, another as a lobbyist, who then helps his clients gain access to the people he helps elect. It is a standard strategist-lobbyist model that is common in the city and in the federal government. In this case, Mr. Giannoulis acknowledges wearing both hats at the same time -- saying he is collecting a $2,000-a-month retainer from Mr. Miller's campaign committee for political work while also representing clients like the Telebeam Telecommunications Corporation of Long Island City, which owns pay phones throughout the city." -New York Times, May 18, 2004

11. Good Government: Citizens Union reported lobbying firms were created to do work in Miller’s Council “More political consultants in New York have taken on the second role of lobbyists over the last five years, prompting good-government advocates to press the city's ethics board to revive attempts to regulate the practice. An analysis by Citizens Union, a nonprofit policy group, shows that half of the top 10 consultant-lobbyists last year earned no money from lobbying in 2001, but gradually adopted the practice, sometimes lobbying the same public officials they helped elect. Altogether, those 10 firms earned $32 million from lobbying and consulting from 2002 to 2005, according to the analysis, which the group intends to present today to the Conflicts of Interest Board.” -NY Times, Feb. 3, 06

12. We know the lobbyist consultant role at City Hall is Inappropriate"Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a nonprofit civic group that has no budget request before the city, said the competition for money among nonprofits had "created this frenzy" to hire lobbyists out of a belief that doing so would increase their chances of securing appropriations. He also expressed concern about what he called "a growing problem" of council members being lobbied by firms that serve as political consultants to many of them. "It's a closed circle of influence that is totally inappropriate," Mr. Dadey said. -New York Times, June 22, 2005

13. We know Miller played fast and loose with the city’s budget and rulesThe City Council played fast and loose in awarding $1.67 million in printing work under former Speaker Gifford Miller, a city audit charged yesterday. The report said competitive bidding requirements were skirted by splitting big contracts into several smaller ones that didn't reach the $5,000 bidding threshold. Initially, his office had reported mailing only 100,000 flyers, which featured Miller and touted the Council's budget positions, at a cost of $37,000. But a few days later, Miller aides admitted 5.5 million flyers had been mailed at a cost of $1.6 million. –Daily News, September 22, 2007

14. We know Miller’s combined fund-raising and Lobbyists worked together to benefit his campaign for mayor in 2005"City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's fund-raising effort operated for 15 months in an office in the same lobbying firm that reportedly has advised him on selecting a new chief of staff. The executive director of Miller for New York, Lisa Esler, rented an office from the Parkside Group since February 2003 before relocating to another floor in the same Nassau Street building three weeks ago. Ms. Esler and aides to Mr. Miller said the space was rented by her consulting firm, The Esler Group, and not the campaign, although Miller for New York is paying for the new office, the aides and Ms. Esler said." - New York Sun, May 19, 2004

15. The Miller campaign for mayor paid Parkside for fundraising from 2002 to 2205 –Campaign finance website

16. Indicted former council staffer knows . . . The indictment said employees in the New York City Department for the Aging initially rejected the group's application for city money in 2004 after noticing that its office address was identical to Asquith Reid's home address. The group then reapplied for city funds through the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. That request was granted. Some of the money passed through fictitious groups created by the city council before being awarded to the fund. –Daily News, April 16, 2008

17. And is Talking!A former top aide to Brooklyn Councilman Kendall Stewart is negotiating a plea deal with the feds in the hopes of avoiding prison. Asquith Reid's attorney told a Manhattan federal judge Friday he has no plans to go to trial on charges that the former chief of staff embezzled more than $145,000 in public funds. Reid, 64, faces more than 80 years in prison for allegedly stealing the cash from tax money Stewart allocated over three years to the Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund, a nonprofit honoring the memory of Reid's late daughter. Reid has alleged he put the $145,000 back into the charity. –Daily News, September 12, 2008

18. Council Finance Chair claims two staff workers controlled member items slush fundsIn an appearance last night on the Perez Notes radio show, Council Finance Committee Chair (and comptroller candidate) David Weprin said the Council slush fund incident, was a minor blip. These “fictitious groups,” Weprin said, never came before his committee or the Council as a whole – it was merely the work of a “couple of staff people.” - Daily News Blog, July 31, 2008

19. What was going on in the Council Finance Office?Friends and co-workers of two former City Council staffers accused of disobeying orders to scrap a phantom budget system fumed yesterday that they're being scapegoated. The two, Michael Keogh and Staci Emanuel, left after Council Speaker Christine Quinn said they ignored instructions to stop reserving millions of taxpayer dollars under the names of fictional organizations so the funds could be dispersed later to genuine nonprofit groups. "Staci is the consummate professional," one former co-worker told The Post. "She's totally honest. She'd never ignore an order like that. For her to be vilified publicly is not right." Keogh, the council's former budget director, and Emanuel, his deputy, have both refused to talk to the press. –NY Post, April 5, 08

20. Former Council financial director who now works at one of the city’s top lobbyists firms, says he is cooperating with investigators "Her finance director, Michael Keogh, has since joined Bolton-St. Johns, a lobbying firm where Emily Giske, a top official in the state Democratic Party and close ally of the speaker, also works. Quinn’s communications Chief Jamie McShane said the speaker played no role in Keogh landing that job, and Keogh has told reporters he is cooperating with investigators.” -Daily News Blog, July 31, 2008

21. From the Council Finance Committee to Lobbyist Michael Keogh is listed as Bolton-St Johns lobbyist in a contract with the High Line non profit which according to news report received member items funds, even some funding from the fake non profits. –NYC Lobbyists Database

22. Quinn: “We Went Back and Fixed It”The Friends of the High Line - a pet project of former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller - received more money than any other group from the phantom accounts squirreled away by the council last year, records released yesterday showed. Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the High Line was originally allocated the funds during the budget process, but was mistakenly left high and dry when the final list of grants was issued. "This was just a clerical error," she said. "We went back to fix it." –NY Post, April 4, 2008

23. Quinn Replaced Finance Director and most of his staff “Michael P. Keogh will become the Council's new finance director, with primary responsibility for negotiating the city's $50.2 billion budget with the Bloomberg administration, Council aides confirmed. Mr. Keogh will replace Larian Angelo, the longtime finance director, who was fired along with 17 of her staff members, or roughly 40 percent of the budget department.” –New York Times, February 18, 2006