Sunday, March 29, 2015


No Outrage Have New Yorkers Given Up?
Organized Crime Albany, Court Corruption, Tax Give-Aways to Foreigners
According to indictments unsealed this week, Ms. Rahaman was right. It was all a ruse involving their landlord and two inspectors from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, prosecutors said, a small piece of a larger bribery and kickback investigation involving nearly four dozen city housing and buildings employees, property owners, managers and construction industry workers. The court documents describe in detail how building code violations and tenant complaints were dismissed for payoffs that were sometimes just a few hundred dollars. “Notably, many of the buildings at issue are located in areas of Brooklyn which are rapidly developing and gentrifying, resulting in an economic incentive for building owners to sell or refinance quickly to take advantage of the booming real estate market,” said a letter submitted to the court by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Weaken the Neighborhoods for Central Control By the Mayor and Developers 
Lindsay, Wagner Breslin and Mailer Worked to Give More Power To the City's Neighborhoods
In the early 1970's, Mayor John Lindsay created additional entities in some districts whose responsibility it was to oversee the provision of City services. Each "Little City Hall" as they were called, was headed by a District Manager, a person appointed by the mayor. Lindsay wanted the city halls to give neighborhoods more control of the city's government.  How They Came Into Being What would eventually evolve into a system of Community Boards was the brainchild of Robert Wagner, Manhattan Borough President, in 1951. He designated twelve districts within Manhattan and established, for each, a Community Planning Council composed of fifteen to twenty members. The function of these Councils was to advise the Borough President on matters related to planning and the budget. In 1963 while Wagner was battling Tammany Halls shadow control of city government, he got the City Charter to establishment Community Planning Boards, as they were referred to, in all five boroughs of New York City. Eventually the term "Community Planning Board" was shortened to simply "Community Board". The role of the boards was still that of advisory boards to the Borough Presidents.

True News Wags NYP's Goodwin on Organize Crime Albany Government
Today's NYP 
Sheldon Silver'sdownfall exposes corruption in Albany(Goodwin, NYP) Since prosecutors filed the charges against Silver, published reports are detailing how he manipulated the courts, the Legislature, not-for-profits and even an innocuous-sounding resolution to enrich himself. The portrait that emerges is that of a boss of a Mafia-like gang. Think of it as La Cosa Nostra’s government family.

True News Last Weekend
New York's Organize Crime Politics 
Crooks in Assembly are using 1957 Apalachin Organized Crime Commission as model to Take Heat Off Them 

A Coalition of County Leader Puppets and Silver Changes Nothing

New York’s representative democracy has been hijacked in an organized crime sort of way by our elected officials.  Just like the mob at the Appalachian meeting rigged drugs, gambling and prostitution, our elected officials have rigged government, the judicial system and the state prosecutors to enrich themselves in money and power.  That 1957 meeting included over 100 mobsters including "Joe the Barber," divided the illegal operations of loan sharking, narcotics trafficking and gambling controlled by the late Albert Anastasia. The soldiers of New York’s Political Elected Mob are two Tammany Hall machines that have control over a broken down election system, unbeatable and unaccountable to the voters in New York’s broken down election system.  The lobbyist with their real estate and union funding make up the new machine, the party leaders who no longer control the vote, but its leaders have control of the special election, the court and the old guard of elected officials in Albany makes up the second machine.Under plan to cede duties to senior members, Silver would keep his title, his formal powers and his leadership stipend, spokesman says.

The New Puppet Bosses of Albany Is As Bad As the Old Boss
Like the Appalachian mobsters the Party leaders, consultants/lobbyist has divided up New York to control the government and rake in millions of dollars for themselves. The press coverage of politics is amazingly similar to the SEC reviews of Madoff’s records over the years. They saw but did nothing.  The press is reporting the indictment of the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but they are not helping him by investigating the corrupt like he asked them to do over a year ago.

de Blasio's Owes His Victory to 3% of  New Yorkers, 80,000 Black Voters and 1 Sharpton 

Governing to 282,344 
New Yorkers
282,344 votes were cast for de Blasio in the 2013 Democratic Primary, about 3% of New Yorkers (8.500.000).  de Blasio tied Bill Thompson, the only African-American in the race, overall at 42 percent of the vote. Sharpton did not back Thompson in the primary.  In the general election virtually every vote cast by black New Yorkers — 96 percent — went de Blasio way.  Of those we have flagged as likely Black (which would exclude Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee & David Dinkins), we have 178,843 Dems who voted in 2013 Primary. That is certainly too low.

Many Black New Yorkers Are Seeing de Blasio’s Victory asTheir Own(NYT)In New York the Democratic Primary is the real election, for most elective officers.. In the primary runoff Comptroller John Liu received 127,173 or just 4% of the registered Democrats in the city (3,177,740) in the runoff. De Blasio did a little better with 138, 736, he got 4.4% of the city's democratic voters. John Liu was elected with just 2.7% of all the city's registered voters casting their vote for him.* "This isn’t thecampaign"-Ray Kelly to Bill de Blasio Bill de Blasio’s Circle of Power(NYT)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Today the Media Protect the Corrupt Political Bosses, Ignoring the Unfair Advantage Data and Field Gave Candidates in 2009, or PACs in 2013

Data and Field Centralized Corruption Accelerated A Power Drain From the City's Neighborhoods . . . Media Cover-Up

In a city were DAs and the AG normally ignore or contain political corruption a special prosecutor in Staten Island Roger Adler is trying to connect the dots to expose a very complicated organized corruption scam of the city's election system.  The media have for the most part has ignored the investigation and have attacked the prosecutor for the arrests.  The campaign corruption that Adler is trying to uncover goes way beyond run-of-the-mill campaign corruption. It is clear that the media has no idea the damage to the political system and city's neighborhoods that Data and Fields started.  Data and Field was the start of lobbyists and special interests take over city's election system.  The Data and Field corruption model of centralized control of local campaigns was continued was easer by the Supreme Courts Citizens United Ruling in the 2013 elections.  In 2009 the NYT Demanded An Investigation of Data and Field Today that papers is Covering-Up A Criminal Investigation not of Data and Field but of the corruption of New York's election system. Three reports who have written about the case since the arrests have slammed the prosecutor and fogged up what the facts about the Data and Field Scheme.  Jim Dwyer in the NYT, Errol Louis and Harry Seigel of the Daily News. Seigel wrote "The scandal here is what the special prosecutor is choosing to treat as a crime."  Dwyer wrote, "Why turn ordinary campaign finance matters into a criminal case?"  Louis wrote, "City Councilwoman Debi Rose, is nearing the fifth year of a legal odyssey in which unproved accusations of campaign finance violations have led to a series of long, inconclusive investigations of questionable merit."  A former mayoral press spokesperson said it is shocking that the press would run interference to protect operatives who are corrupting the election process. 

Data and Fields is More Than An Accounting Problem ... It is the Beginning of A Democracy Stealing Conspiracy 

Data and Field Accelerated the Centralization of Local Campaigns That Has Drained Power From Local Neighborhoods and the Voters

The media cover- Up of the Data and Field Scheme accelerated The Privatization of Tammany Hall by lobbyists  by centralizating power in a handful of political operatives, sucking power out of the city's once strong neighborhoods. These changes in the election system have left New Yorkers powerless to stop being push out of their own communities gentrification rising rents, stopping hospitals from being closed and most importantly giving up hope that votingwill improvement government.  

In 2009 City Hall News Called Data and Field an Arm of WFP Before the CFB Did . . .  This is How City Hall Described the Scheme:

"A complicated web of coordinated activities, shared resources and staff, and quiet money transfers between the Working Families Party, a secretive private company called Data and Field Services and at least six current Council campaigns, as well as Bill de Blasio’s campaign for public advocate, appears to have found several ways around the strict city campaign finance laws. Upwards of a million dollars, and possibly more, are involved, with over $1.7 million in matching funds comprised of taxpayer dollars already disbursed and more are potentially at stake." 
Note the the links City Hall News (Now called City and State) are no longer on the internet.  The reporter for City Hall News Edward-Issac Dovere  found no discernable dividing line between normal WFP operations and those the party had farmed out to campaigns via DFS. Big Money Slides From WFP to City Campaigns (City Hall News) August 10, 2009 (No Working Link) * This is how the Daily Kos covered the City Hall reports on Data and Field

As Word Leaked Out That True News Was Looking for Their WFP Articles From 2009 One Was Restored WFP Created Data and Fields To Go Around the Campaign Financial and CFB Rules to Pump Money Into The Candidates They Support

City and State recently posted Edward-Issac Dovere's 2009 City Hall News story but changed the title to "City Hall Special Investigation Report."  The title of Iassac-Dovere story when it was public in 2009 was Big Money SlidesFrom WFP to City Campaigns (City Hall News) The following has been cover-up by City and State for five years and explains why Data and Fields was created. 
"Another benefit of incorporating a private, for-profit company is that none of its activities–all of them done on behalf of the WFP and various political candidates–are visible to the same level of detail that would be possible if the WFP or the candidates made the expenditures themselves. In addition to the fact that regulations bar the WFP from having staff reach out beyond the ranks of its members for petitioning or any other campaign activity, and limit the amount of money the WFP can donate to campaigns, all such expenditures would need to be documented in public campaign finance reports, a requirement that the DFS corporate structure obviates.  Money transferred to DFS from the WFP and political candidates can be tracked, however, since these all must report their own expenditures. Already during 2009, according to the latest available records showing their finances through mid-July, the WFP has transferred $554,629 (listed as “wages”) and nine campaigns together have transferred $253,855 (listed as “campaign spending”) to DFS, for a total of over $800,000. The money from WFP is out of the general party account, which is funded in part by union contributions totaling to $345,000 so far this year, with the biggest donors being RWDSU, TWU, UFT and CWA. According to WFP executive director Dan Cantor, the WFP paid full payroll taxes on these wages."

This is How an Editorial in the NYT Demanded An Investigation of Data and Field in 2009

Questions for Dataand Field(NYT Ed) "We have serious questions about the activities of a private corporation set up by the Working Families Party to assist candidates the party has endorsed.Specifically, the board must find out whether Data and Field Services is charging candidates market rates for its services. If the company is charging full price, that would seem to comply with the law. If candidates are not paying market rates, the company and perhaps the party and its donors could be unfairly subsidizing candidates who have agreed to abide by the strict donor limits and spending caps required by the public financing system."

The NYT Columnist Jim Dwyer Attacked the  WFP's Data and Field Prosecutor After the Arrest in 2014 and Again this Week
For One Staten Island Campaign, a Special Prosecutor Instead of an Auditor(NYT) So, it is now five years since the election, and criminal charges are being brought over expenditures and filings that are routinely corrected or penalized through audits by the Campaign Finance Board. More than 40,000 similar claims made last year were denied by the board, and no one got arrested. They just were told, “No.” The Reporter for the NYT Jim Dwyer not only did not google Councilman Sheldon Leffler was convicted  in campaign fraud scheme in his race for Queens BP in 2003. Dwyer must have missed  District Leaders Albert Baldeo indictment by the U.S. Attorney for scheming to use fake names to obtain matching funds from the CFB.  Was Dwyer around in 2013 when federal prosecutors conviction Jia Hou, a former Liu campaign treasurer, and Xing Wu Pan, a fund-raiser, who used straw donors to scam the CFB.  Willy Rapfogel is sitting in jail for a scheme that used his non profit funding to scam the CFB matching funds system? * A Secret Indictment Over Errors That Have Rarely BeenCrimes (NYT)  For all parties, this is a matter that could have been an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” full of weirdness: what appears to be a first-of-its-kind case brought over errors that happen in many, many campaigns across the city. Normally, these errors are caught by the Campaign Finance Board, which audits political spending. The paperwork is then refiled with the proper information. The very issues raised as crimes by Mr. Adler are “routinely addressed through the conduct of our regular postelection audits,” Eric Friedman, a spokesman for the board, said in November when the first set of charges was filed. There is something freakish about the existence of a special prosecutor, bringing criminal charges over one campaign whose mistakes — if any — were more or less the same as those of other campaigns. Mr. Adler did not return a message left with his office on Thursday.

NYT Dwyer, Daily News' Louis Did not Report that Adler Started His Investigation in two years ago and has been tied up in court by WFP Lawyers, trying to kill the investigation
Louis: "For two years, Adler, a politically conservative attorney well known in Brooklyn legal and political circles, has been re-excavating the same innocuous campaign filings that Mastro and Bharara have already examined." Are WFP Case Subpoenas Legal?(YNN) * WFP lawyer Avi Schick has been trying to quash subpoenas from a special prosecutor that involve a 2009 council race on Staten Island Investigator wants to speak with Mayor de Blasio aide Emma Wolfe in Working Families Party probe(NYDN)  * Meet Avi Schick, New York’s New Steamroller (NYO) 

This is how the Daily News Reported on Data and Field in 2009 Was According to the CFB Connected to the WFP

"The City Campaign Finance Board on Wednesday fired a warning shot across the bows of candidates that have hired a consulting group tied to the Working Families Party, telling them to be careful going forward about their financial dealings with the firm. A number of candidates have paid Data and Field Services thousands of dollars in consulting and campaign staffing fees, including public advocate hopeful Bill de Blasio and City Council candidates Daniel DrommS.J. Jung,Brad LanderDeborah RoseLynn SchulmanJames Van Bramer and Jumaane Williams. All have been endorsed by the WFP. None have been penalized by the board. The board says going forward it will consider whether candidates have gotten unfair discounts from the group, and whether the work runs afoul of contribution limits. Data and Field Services performs tasks like canvassing, leafleting and making calls for candidates. "Based on information acquired by the board to date, it is the board's understanding that DFS exists as an arm of the Working Families Party," the board said in a statement."

What Role Did Berlin Rosen Play With Data and Field? 

This is How the Daily News' Errol Louis Reported the Data and Field Arrests Was Full Scale Attack on the Prosecutor

Two articles written five years apart by Daily News columnist Errol Louis were full of negative words shots about the investigation and very little clear information on what the the Data and Field investigation was about. To see how Mr. Louis tried to taint the importance of Adler's investigation look at the words he used in his stories.  Progressively worse for the WFP (NYDN, 11/6/2014)
Burdened, Politically Tinged Prosecution, Legal  Odyssey,  Unproved Accusations,  Questionable Merit, A Junk Lawsuit Filed, Third Inquiry Arose, Like Dracula from the Grave, Waste of Time.
Discredit, Obscure, Technical Issues, Republican Political Operatives and Their Lawyer, Partisan Politics, Republican Hit Job on the WFP, A political Hatchet Man from the Giuliani Days.The WFP will Very Likely Prevail in Court.

Louis Has Had Goldfeder On His NY1 Show Has Not Asked Him About His Letter to the CFB Which Led A Ruling That the CFB and DFS Are One
Jerry Goldfeder, an election lawyer whose letter to the city Campaign Finance Board, I reference at the top of this item, called to say, “We sent a request to the C.F.B. to clarify general ambiguities about coordination. We received their response. We didn’t know anything about the City Hall article.” 
CFB Response to the Goldfeder Letter "Based on information acquired by the board to date, it is the board's understanding that DFS exists as an arm of the Working Families Party," the board said in a statement.Goldfeder letter to the CFB and their response

The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara — no slouch when it comes to rooting out corruption — looked at the same allegations and ended its investigation without taking action against Rose or the WFP.

This is How the Daily News' Harry Seigel Reported the Data and Field Arrests  

Daily News reporter Seigel said "Adler charges were a paper-thin complaint"
Daily News' Seigel, Louis and the NYT's Dwyer did not report why top Bill de Blasio aide Emma Wolfe refuse to talk to the special prosecutor about her role managing the WFP’s campaign machine?  She was given immunity from prosecution, so she isn’t protecting herself.  Seigel Who Charges Adler's Investigation of Data and Field criminalize ordinary politics should ask the jury of former Councilman Leffler who convicted him of a scheme to defraud the CFB. Seigel could have follow up 2009 Daily News story which reported: No firewalls:Working Families Party straddles thin line between party, nonprofit  The Working Families Organization. is a lobbying and advocacy nonprofit group focused on the same goals as the party - but with far less scrutiny of what it spends and receives.

Why Din't the DN' Seigel or anyone Else Ask How the CFB and the Brooklyn and Queens' DAs can Clear all the Other Candidates but Debi Rose Doing Business With Data and Field?
Seigel reported that "The Brooklyn attorney appointed as an unlikely special prosecutor in Staten Island, effectively criminalize ordinary politics. A civil suit filed by Randy Mastro, a lawyer who’s worked closely with Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, eventually settled with no admission of wrongdoing.  Since then, the WFP folded its for-profit operation, the Campaign Finance Board worked its way through reviews of almost every 2009 campaign — including the eight other party-backed Council candidates in contested races — and found no big issues. And that seemed to be the end of the story.  As Jim Dwyer noted in The New York Times, the board rejected 40,000 matching funds claims in last year’s elections. None have led to criminal charges".

Top Ten Questions Not Asked

2. Ask Jimmy Van Brammer why WFP cashed a check his campaign wrote to D.F.S. that the W.F.P. as reported by city and state campaign finance records.

3.  Ask Debi Rose why she was unfamiliar with D.F.S., even though her campaign manager said Rose was the person who told the campaign to hire them

4. Why is has the media ignored De Blasio and seven council candidates have reported sending a total $154,033.76 to DFS?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why is Crime Up 574

The NYCLU Needs to Explain Why Shooting are Up, Not Evade the Question? 
Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said her group has long maintained that many factors contribute to the crime rate. Street stops before Police Commissioner Bill Bratton became the city’s top cop were carried out recklessly and without proving it helped lower the crime rates, Lieberman said. “We’ve always known that the NYPD is capable of driving down crime without violating people’s constitutional rights,” she said. But Thomas Reppetto, an NYPD historian and author, said it is far too early to conclude why shootings are up. “My view is not enough time, not enough data yet,” he said.

NYPD Less Stop and Frisk Not the Reason Shooting Up 20% and Murders Up
No Answer Why Shooting and Murders Are Up are Given Why Did Kevin Colon Die and 20% More Shootings?
EXCLUSIVE: No linkfound between sharp drop in street stops, rise in shootings finds internal NYPDinvestigation (NYDN)  An internal NYPD study found no link between the sharp drop in street stops and a rise in shootings, the Daily News has learned. Shootings rose 6% in 2014 compared with the year before as the number of stop-and-frisk encounters dropped to a record-low 46,235 — a staggering decrease from the high of 605,328 in 2011. Shootings are up again — about 20% in 2015 through Sunday — but the NYPD said the study doesn’t prove a link between the increase in shootings and fewer stops. “We weren’t able to find anything definitive,” said Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, the NYPD’s top spokesman. Police shoot man who pulls gun in Brooklyn (NYDN) * NYPD: Two Officers Attacked by Four Men in Brooklyn Housing Complex (NY1) * The head of the city’s largest police union has “no regrets”about his feud with @BilldeBlasio (DNAINFO) * One of four men in attack where NYPD cop suffered seizurestole officer's radio: police (NYDN) * NYPD cops badly beaten by suspects during arrest (NYDN)

Bratton Reeer Madness Reason for More Murders
 Bill Bratton’s reefer madness (NYDN) Have you hugged your marijuana dealer today? Do it now, before someone shoots him. That, at least, was one takeout from Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s over-the-top remarks Monday pointing to pot as a key cause of the spike in murders and shootings so far this year . “In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with (in the) ’80s and ’90s with heroin and cocaine,” he said of “the seemingly innocent drug that’s been legalized around the country.” That talk of a new marijuana-murder matrix didn’t make much sense to me. As Gothamist’s Christopher Robbins asked: Are things really worse here than in 1988, when there were 1,896 murders and a study of a large sample found more than half were drug related? Of course not. In fact, with murders in the first two months of this year up to 54 from 45 last year and shootings up to 149 from 126, the number of pot-related murders held steady, at seven — so they don’t account for any of that recent rise in violence.

Did the Report Consider the Gentrification of Bed Stuy as the Reason Shooting Dropped There?
The eight-page study focused on the first six months of 2014 and looked at the five precincts where shootings jumped the most compared with 2013 — and the five where they dropped the most. Results were mixed. In the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, for example, stops in the first half of last year dropped 75% compared with 2013. But shootings in the neighborhood dropped by 12 — the most for any single command. During the same time period, the 46th Precinct in the Bronx had a similar drop in stops — a robust 73% — while the number of shootings increased by seven.Blogger Jeremiah Moss writes in the Daily News that deBlasio’s pro-development push may hasten gentrification and that the city should pass a small business survival act to preserve the cultural fabric of the boroughs: 

Bed Stuy Gentrification On Fire
Prices in Bedford-Stuyvesant have gone up so much that investors are bailing out, a trend that could finally allow people who actually want to live in the neighborhood to buy there. With rents starting to stabilize, investors who bid up Bed-Stuy prices for the last few years no longer see enough potential upside to buying there — a shift that temporarily halts one of the speediest processes of gentrification the city has seen in recent years. Prices in Bedford-Stuyvesant have gone up so much that investors are bailing out, a trend that could finally allow people who actually want to live in the neighborhood to buy there. With rents starting to stabilize, investors who bid up Bed-Stuy prices for the last few years no longer see enough potential upside to buying there — a shift that temporarily halts one of the speediest processes of gentrification the city has seen in recent years. “An investor is looking for a property that will make sense to resell but someone who is buying for themselves looks at it very differently,” said Trish Martin, the head of Brooklyn sales for residential brokerage Halstead Property. “Homebuyers are now willing to pay more.” Now end-users are winning out in bidding wars against investors who are less likely to pay top dollar. But bargains don’t exist because the neighborhood has fully gentrified. * As hotels gravitate toward trendy areas like Williamsburg, manufacturers feel the squeeze, via @shelikestoshop As hotels gravitate toward trendy areas like Williamsburg,manufacturers feel the squeeze, via (CrainsNY)* Al Capone's Gowanus Hangout to Be Replaced by Condos via @Dnainfo 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cuomo After Silver's Arrest I See the Reform Light Again 977

What Do You Do After the Prosecutor Call You a Liar Distract 
Cuomo Plays The Weiner Penis Card
Gov. Cuomo deniesconnection between ending Moreland Commission, Silver charges: (NYDN)  'If Anthony Weiner shows his private parts, do you blame Obama?' 'If Anthony Weiner shows his private parts, do you blame Obama?’ Cuomo said in a New Yorker profile over accusations that he’s somehow to blame for the corruption scandal that led to Sheldon Silver’s resignation as Assembly Speaker.*NY prosecutor basically calls Governor Cuomo a liar (hotaid)* Former Rep. Anthony Weiner and a Cuomo administration spokesman traded barbs on Twitter after Weiner make a joke criticizing Cuomo’s decision to close the subway during a snowstorm in January, the Daily Newswrites:  *Gov. Cuomo Staffer Smacks Down Anthony Weiner on Twitter * Cuomo said he views ethics reform that would require lawmakers to disclose more information about private income as the “single toughest item” he will have to negotiate with legislators, Gannett Albanyreports:

Next: 50 Shades of Cuomo and Weiner Distraction

de Blasio and Cuomo Pay Not Attention To What Were Doing to Elect the Next Speaker

Flashback Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio denies back-room deals inmaneuver to make Melissa Mark-Viverito CityCouncil speaker   (12/13/2013, NYDN)

De Blasio staying out of fight for Assembly speaker(NYP) The city isn’t meddling in Albany’s closed-door power scramble to anoint a new speaker of the Assembly, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday. During a chat with reporters, the mayor said. “I’m not talking to Assembly members at all,” said de Blasio, dispelling claims by some Albany insiders that he’s been promoting Carl Heastie of The Bronx to replace Silver.“The mayor desperately needs to have a friend in 
Albany,” said one lobbyist who works extensively in the capital. * Phil Reisman: “Twenty-nine days into January and already 2015 is shaping up as an annus horribilis for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That’s Latin for a bad year.”

Cuomo Pass My Reforms or the Government Closes Down
SpeakerCandidate Carl Heastie Backs ‘First Steps’ Toward Albany Reform(NYO) If he’s elected by his colleagues to be the next speaker, Mr. Heastie vowed he would earn no outside income and would step down as Bronx County Democratic Chairman. He would also require a new dislcosure to account for “every dollar legislators earn outside of public service,” his press release said. And he’d consider making the legislature full-time—and as a result banning outside work. Mr. Heastie, in what a press release said were “first steps” to larger reforms, also promised to create an Office of Ethics and Compliance and to reform the Assmebly’s use of per diem reimbursements, which are meant to cover travel costs. 

Cuomo and Heastie Dancing to Different Reform Tunes
Mr. Heastie’s proposed Office of Ethics and Compliance would be organized by a three-member team of Assembly members who would find its first Executive Director, a person who would not be a lawmaker. As for per diem reform, Mr. Heastie vowed to “introduced new accountability and transparency measures” to the lax reimbursement system. That would include working with state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to beef up reporting requirements and oversight.* nNew York Governor Cuomo says he will not sign a budget without ethics reform. * Nolan says she could support term limits for the speaker's office.* Pushing Ethics Reforms, Cuomo Wants Lawmakers to Reveal Income or Lose It (NYT) Declaring that New York’s government faces a crisis of public trust, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposals include requiring lawmakers to fully disclose their outside income and public financing of campaigns.* Glick On Cuomo: We Didn’t Elect an Emperor(YNN) * UFT Targets Cuomo in New Ad (YNN) * JCOPE released a report detailing suggested changes to the state’s ethics and lobbying laws.* Cuomo’s effort to change teacher tenure rules got some positive attention…in California. *Pushing Ethics Reforms, Cuomo Wants Lawmakers to Reveal Income or Lose It (NYT)

Cuomo using state budget to push ethics reforms
Andrew Cuomo was'totally shocked' by Sheldon Silver's arrest (NYO) Cuomo To Legislature: Pass Ethics Reform In Budget Or Shut Down Gov’t(YNN)Cuomo is proposing a five-point plan that starts with what he said would be the strongest campaign disclosure rules in the nation – including revealing client lists from outside businesses, which he said are not protected, as lawmakers have claimed in court. The governor also called for a constitutional amendment that would end public pensions for elected officials found guilty of wrongdoing, an overhaul of the legislative per diem system, strict new rules prohibiting the personal use of political funds , (including, presumably, using this cash to pay for legal representation, which the governor himself is going), and enactment of a host of campaign finance fixes like closing the LLC loophole, (which he himself has used to great effect), lower contribution limits and creation of a publicly financed campaign system. * Andrew Cuomo was'totally shocked' by Sheldon Silver's arrest (NYO) * Shaken by corruption charges against Silver and other high-profile arrests in recent years, many lawmakers have become critical of JCOPE, questioning whether it has been effective or independent, the Journal reports:  * The delay caused by the Silver scandal could take its toll in the long term this session.* Cuomo’s ex-brother-in-law, Douglas Kennedy: “Does anybody need to tell (the governor) that he’s, you know, finished with national politics right now? He knows it. I mean – it’s just something you know.”* Cuomo Seeks Ethics Reform After Assembly Speaker’s Arrest(NYT)* Cuomo's "scolding tone signaled an abrupt shift for(gov) long known for his accommodating relationship" w lawmakers (NYT) * Cuomo using state budget to push ethics reforms(NYP)* Cuomo: Ethics Reform ‘More Important Than Anything Else’(YNN) * Cuomo said ethics reform is “more important than anything else” this legislative session, and suggested that his push to clean up Albany has nothing to do with his scuttling of the Moreland Commission, State of Politics reports * Reform hypocrites (NYP Ed) With Sheldon Silver out, the Albany air is now full of talk of “reform.” But let’s put this in context: Even after the news that Shelly was under federal investigation, only two people out of 150 in the Assembly spoke out against his continuing as speaker during a roll call vote re-electing him that was itself followed by a standing ovation. Then there’s Gov. Cuomo, now vowing to shut down the government if lawmakers don’t pass his reforms, which include requiring legislators to disclose their outside pay. This wasn’t his stand a year ago, when he shut down the Moreland Commission as part of a budget deal. The commission was knee-capped as lawmakers were fighting its demands they disclose their outside income and clients. The governor closed it in exchange for a tepid array of ethics “reforms” that didn’t go nearly as far as what the governor now tells us is necessary. Yet at the time he pronounced it a “satisfactory conclusion.” Remember, too, that the same governor pitching reform is part of the “three men in a room” culture that circumvents democratic debate and process.* Joint Commission on Public Ethics commissioners want to change rules that prohibit them from releasing investigative findings when no legal violation is found or when they opt not to probe a situation, The Times Union writes The Times Union editorial board writes that Cuomo will encounter resistance to ethics reforms in the Legislature, but they do not have sympathy for him because New York has long been waiting in vain for Albany to clean up its act:* State Senate Finance Chairman John DeFrancisco said Cuomo’s threat to shut down the government if ethics legislation is not in the state budget sets a negative tone for negotiations, State of Politics writes: * The five-point ethics program Cuomo wants in the state budget does not include the closure of the LLC loophole and the establishment of a publicly financed campaign system, the Times Union reports: * Thne TU’s Casey Seiler grapples with whether closing the LLC loophole is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ethics ultimatum to the Legislature. (Answer: It’s hard to tell, but seems like no).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Corruption Real Estate and the Silver Indictment 960

Silver Law Firm Court Asbestos Gamed
Sheldon Silver-linked law firm has hand in asbestos funds(NYP) Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm accused of exploiting its connection to Sheldon Silver in New York City’s asbestos court, has come under fire in another lucrative arena — multibillion-dollar bankruptcy trusts. The East Village firm, which gained more than 100 mesothelioma clients in an alleged kickback scheme by the disgraced assemblyman, sits on 15 advisory committees for trusts set up by bankrupt companies to compensate victims — including Weitz’s own clients. The loose system fosters a “fox guarding the hen house” culture, says a article published last month by Measley’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Report.

The NY Media is Not Following Up the Silver Real Estate Corruption and Connections to Cuomo
Cuomo OfficialsDirected State Loan To Cuomo Donor At Center of CorruptionProbe(International Business Times) A careful review of state documents reveals that Cuomo and Silver are connected by a key figure in the scandal. Both lawmakers have a financial relationship with the same New York real estate mogul, Leonard Litwin, who has in turn relied upon them for preferential tax treatment and other government benefits. Silver is alleged to have benefited personally from Litwin’s spending -- and there is no dispute that Cuomo has benefited politically from that same largesse. Litwin contributed $1 million to Cuomo’s reelection campaign and another $500,000 to the New York Democratic Party, making him the largest political donor in the state. His money flowed through 27subsidiaries of his firm, Glenwood Management. Those subsidiaries were also clients of the real estate law firm that paid referral fees to Silver. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has alleged that Silver "induce[d] real estate developers with business before the state" to employ the law firm, which in turn made payments to Silver. The Cuomo-run New York State Housing Finance Agency, for instance, approved a $260 million state-supported low-interest loan in 2014 to finance Glenwood’s new luxury apartment building in midtown Manhattan. * Leonard Litwin, at the center of New York corruption scandals, could bringdown the entire Democrat establishment (BuffaloChronicle) Litwin contributed $1 million to Governor Cuomo’s reelection effort, and another $500,000 to the New York Democratic Party, The International Business News reports. The Cuomo-run New York Housing Finance Agency later approved a $290 million low interest loan in 2014 to finance new luxury apartment building in Midtown Manhattan. At the time the loan was being considered, NYHFA was headed by Bill Mulrow, a registered lobbyist for the Blackstone group, a massive private equity fund. Mulrow was just recently appointed to be Cuomo’s new Chief of Staff. It is rumored that abuse of power allegations against Attorney General Schneiderman are currently under federal investigation by the US Attorney’s office. Larry Schwartz called the Moreland Commissioners to stop them from subpoenaing the Real Estate Board of New York..

At the time the loan to Glenwood was approved, the NYHFA was headed by Cuomo appointee Bill Mulrow, an executive and registered lobbyist at Blackstone, a private equity and real estate firm. Mulrow was just appointed to be the governor’s chief of staff. According to NYHFA documents, Glenwood also has had other business with the agency. Similarly, Cuomo in 2011 signed Silver-backed legislation reauthorizing a then-expired property tax abatement for real estate developers called the 421a program. Cuomo also signed an extension of that program in 2013.

Times editorial lamenting NYC cost of housing a little like Larry Flynt doing a PSA for abstinence...
Litwin’s firm used the 421a program for its Midtown Manhattan project, according to the New York Times. Glenwood has also used the 421a tax break for some of its other properties in the city. In 2014, Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission, an anti-corruption panel that was examining the relationship between lawmakers and the real estate industry. The governor’s top aide at time, Larry Schwartz, called commission members to stop them from subpoenaing the Real Estate Board of New York, of which Litwin is the lifetime “honorary chairman.” The 421a abatement, which costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues, is set to expire in 2015. The question of its renewal -- and Cuomo's support for its renewal -- is a flashpoint in this year’s legislative session in Albany. Already, some New York City lawmakers are calling for its repeal. * "Progressive" Gentrification: One Community'sStruggle Against Affordable Housing

How Real Estate Scam Worked in the Court
The indictment accuses Silver of steering billionaire developer Leonard Litwin, the state’s largest political donor, to the firm, along with another unnamed developer. In exchange, Silver reaped referral fees. The Goldberg firm handled tax appeals for 15 buildings owned by Litwin’s organization, Glenwood Management, and its limited liability companies, prosecutors said. Court records show that in one case that landed in Shulman’s court — involving a high-rise building on York Avenue — Glenwood won a $3.4 million reduction in the building’s assessment, which is used to determine its taxes.

Even as he ruled a vast state, it was always Grand Street that was his capital. And it was the clan he met there whose code he embodies
Litwin owns a rental building, The Fairmont — the same high-rise where Lippman and his wife rented a one-bedroom apartment between 2007 and 2010, The Post found. And Lippman’s son, Russell, a Harvard-educated lawyer, rented an apartment there between 2003 and 2005, public records show. Lippman, who earned $156,000 in 2010, moved into the rent-stabilized building in 2007 shortly after he was appointed presiding justice of the Appellate Division in Manhattan and was required to live in The Bronx or Manhattan. He had lived in Westchester. Bookstaver said Lippman paid market-rate rent of $3,195 for the apartment. He said Lippman rented at the Fairmont because he needed to move quickly and knew of the building because his son had lived there. He said Lippman did not know Litwin owned the property.

Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm where Silver was “of counsel” until he was dumped last week, practically rules a special section of the court dealing with complex asbestos litigation. Critics say the firm gets the “red-carpet treatment” including a fast track, “better judges” and first dibs on jurors to hear its cases. Sherry Klein Heitler, the chief asbestos judge, as well as the top administrative judge at 60 Centre St., has handled dozens of the firm’s cases in what is called New York City Asbestos Litigation or NYCAL. Last year, at Weitz & Luxenberg’s request, Heitler reversed a 20-year rule barring punitive damages in asbestos cases, paving the way for much bigger jury awards. Of 15 mesothelioma verdicts in the last four years, Silver’s firm won $273.5 million of $313.5 million awarded by NYCAL juries. The average award for an NYCAL asbestos case — nearly $16 million per plaintiff between 2010 and 2014 — is reportedly two to three times larger than those in other courts nationwide. * Wayne Barrett: How Shelly Silver Made His Pal Chief Judge (Village Voice)* Four Charged in a Bribery Scheme to Gain Clients in Arraignment Court(NYT)  A worker who interviewed defendants was paid as much as $1,000 per client that he steered to three lawyers and a paralegal, prosecutors said.* The corruption charges against Silver reveal the rot that has plagued Albany and deserve more national attention for exposing the links between politicians and the asbestos-plaintiffs bar, the Journal writes:

Wayne Barrett Blows Up Silver's Gand Street Gang
Sheldon Silver'sgang (Wayne Barrett, NYDN) How the disgraced speaker put a tight network, including lifelong Lower East Side friends, in powerful places. Rudy Giuliani used to tell a story about a mob hit-man who blessed himself before each murder. It could be a metaphor for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who for two decades presented himself as the personally devout, politically principled leader of the most progressive slice of New York political life. Even if he eludes jail, as have previous indicted Albany kingpins, the criminal complaint filed against Silver marks the end of his era. When Shelly Silver met the man that the government says became his meal ticket, Dr. Robert Taub, in November of 2003, he was already looking for a new hook. Taub, who ran a Columbia University center for asbestos victims, would prove to be the perfect partner for Silver, whose personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, was the biggest asbestos litigator in New York. Silver needed a new partner because his brother, Dr. Joseph Silver, the orthopedic chief at Brooklyn's Methodist Hospital who'd been steering patients (albeit ones less lucrative than asbestos victims) to him, got cancer in 2003. After Joseph died in August 2004, the speaker began hosting a lecture in his brother's name at the hospital. * Silver, the outgoing Assembly speaker, was forced to leave the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, but that doesn’t mean his financial relationship with the firm is over, the Daily News reports: 

Lobbyists Working for Glenwood Management
Pitta Bishop Del Giorno & Giblin Llc $150,000
Carl Andrews & Associates, Inc. $ 144,000
Empire Strategic Planning, Inc. $ 144,000
Meara, Brian R. Public Relations, Inc. $120,000
Lieberman, Mark L. $90,000
Sanzillo, Francis J. & Associates $90,000
Runes, Richard $60,000

Park Strategies $20,000

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a swaggering press conference at his offices in Manhattan slammed Silver with a five-count complaint that portrayed the Democratic lawmaker as greedy and secretive
Federal charges appear to cite state's top political donorThe 100-year-old Litwin spent the most money on political donations during that time, as The Real Deal reported. Crain’s also made a connection between Litwin and the $900,000 Developer 1 paid to eight lobbying firms. The complaint also calls out another developer,* An unnamed firm described in the federal charges against Silver appears to be Glenwood Management, a Manhattan apartment developer owned by Leonard Litwin—the state’s largest political donor in the past decade,Crain’s reports:

Pitta Bishop Del Giorno Lobbyists for Litwin "Develper 1" in the Silver Indictment 
“Developer 2,” though this developer’s identity was not immediately clear. Together, 19 buildings owned by the two developers brought in more than 31 percent of Goldberg & Iryami’s revenue in 2011, according to the complaint. - See more at: * Skelos Won’t Weigh In On Whether Silver Should Resign(YNN) * Silver Charged On Five Counts(YNN) * Aubry: Conference Remains ‘Supportive’ Of Silver(YNN) * Successors Few And Far Between For Silver(YNN) * Silver Turns Himself In(YNN) * De Blasio: Sheldon Silver is a ‘man of integrity’(NYP)* * Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on federal corruption charges and accused of using his power to secure millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks for over a decade, The New York Times reports:
de Blasio Harder Albany Times The fallout of the Sheldon Silver arrest: a rougher time in Albany for @billdeblasio  * * Silver’s arrest could potentially cause a seismic shift in power with reverberations felt from the speaker’s home district on the Lower East Side to the grounds of the State Capitol, the Times reports: * Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty may disband, hand offservices to other groups: sources (NYDN)

Follow the Litwin Money to the Pols
Activists take aim at Litwin donations in report (TU) Hedge Clippers, a group supported by the Strong Economy for All Coalition, is out with a white paper on billionaire New York City developer Leonard Litwin and his political giving, $1.2 million of which has gone to Gov. Andrew Cuomo since 2008. The first of the group’s “Hedge Papers” outlines Litwin’s donations and dealings with various high-level elected officials, including Cuomo and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was arrested last month following an investigation that looked at, in part, alleged bribes he took from developers. One of the developers was identified by the New York Times as Litwin’s Glenwood Management, though the complaint filed by federal prosecutors against Silver does not explicitly name the firm. According to the report, Cuomo campaigns have received the largest amount of Litwin and Glenwood money between 2008 and 2015, totaling $1,214,200. The state Republican Committee ranked second at $807,500. The state Democratic Committee received $300,000. Rob Astorino, the former Republican candidate for governor, also received donations. The report shows that Friends of Rob Astorino, listed by the Board of Elections as his Westchester County executive account, $103,059. Also on the list of the top 50 recipients are various PACs, including the Neighborhood Preservation PAF ($493,150), the Real Estate Board PAC ($175,800) and Jobs for New York ($587,600), the Real Estate Board of New York-backed fund. The report also looks to draw a link between the contributions and 421a tax breaks backed by Cuomo that it has benefited from and a $260 million subsidized loan from the state Housing Finance Agency. As has been and is still being reported ad nauseum, New York City’s rent regulations are up in June, and the state Legislature controls what the new set will look like. Read the group’s white paper here. * Mystery “Developer 1″ in Silver case said to be Glenwood’s Leonard Litwin (Real Deal) * RE moguls gave 10 times more to Senate GOP than Dems (Real Deal) * Once again, real estate opens up its coffers for Cuomo(Real Deal)* Left Releases Litwin Dossier (YNN)

Silver's Secret Law Firm Is the Nexus For Albany's Real Estate Corruption and Brooklyn Gentrification
 “I have very strong feelings about Speaker Silver,” de Blasio told the assembled. In times when the ideas of our party, the ideas of the Democratic Party, the progressive ideals for what New York is historically known for, were under attack, Shelly stood firm and was often, in my view, the thin blue line that kept a rollback of our progressive ideals from happening.”* Chirlane McCray Misperceptions On My Roll, looking ahead to her second year as New York City's first lady, said there are public misperceptions about her role as de Blasio's policy partner, and she intends to fix that, Newsday writes: 

Will Progressives Accept Corruption for Results? "AssemblySpeaker Sheldon Silver has opened the door to a Legislature of kept men andconcubines." * At least 27 clients of Silver’s recently revealed second law firm received state-authorized real estate tax breaks, a Capital New York analysis has found. That they could even take advantage of the tax abatements in question is due in no small part to Silver, who has provided crucial support as speaker for the program that made those breaks available. * Clients of law firm eyed in Silver investigation got state tax breaks(NYP)* The ongoing investigation into Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s outside income should show lawmakers that they need to do more to clean up their own act and to treat their constituents with something approaching respect, the Buffalo News writes:

The downtown law firm eyed for making shadowy payments for a decade to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver represents more than two dozen clients that got state-backed tax breaks. The revelation comes a week after it was disclosed that federal agents are investigating Silver’s ties to the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, which prompted good-government groups and tenant advocates to slam the veteran lawmaker for an apparent conflict of interest. “The speaker has some explaining to do,” said Dick Dadey, director of Citizens Union. “This increasingly doesn’t look good. It’s one thing to not disclose income. It’s quite another to profit from your legislative service.” Goldberg & Iryami works for clients who have nearly 1,300 real-estate tax appeals pending, and at least 27 received some sort of state-authorized tax relief, Capital New York reported Monday. Another 3,500 petitions are being pushed by Jay Arthur Goldberg, the firm’s head, Silver, a Lower East Side Democrat who’s helmed the state Assembly since 1994, has been instrumental in pushing lower taxes for developers and reportedly made sure tax breaks for five luxury developments remained in a 2013 bill that later became law.* The odor of Albany(NYP Ed) Capital New York this week reports that at least 27 Goldberg & Iryami clients received state-authorized tax breaks, thanks to a program that was quietly inserted in a 2013 legislative housing bill by — who else? — Sheldon Silver.

Assmbly Dem just said on @CapitalTonight that this means we need "more disclosure" Y? If a certn someone doesnt follow the rules we now have
Top Albany Issues 2015 The new year'spolitical noisemakers (CrainsNY)* Legislature Returns To Altered Landscape(YNN) * Senate IDC And Mainline Dems Trade Blows(YNN) * Silver Cancels Annual Reception, Assembly To Honor Mario Cuomo(YNN)* The Daily News’Ken Lovett reports that while the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference will remain a caucus with funding and staff, it will no longer have a formal say on what bills can come to the floor for a vote: * State Sen. Martin Golden is backing Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan for Grimm’s seat despite a close working relationship with Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, another Republican who may run, the Observer reports:  *  State senators and Assembly members are returning to new political terrain in Albany this week—Republicans hold their first numerical majority since 2012, calling into question their power-sharing alliance with IDC, State of Politics reports * Sen. David Carlucci said working with Senate Republicans in the majority would be the best way to move the state forward and help his constituents in the Hudson Valley.

Albany's Tax Policies Pushing Blacks Out of Brooklyn Increasing Homelessness

 Silver’s actions aid clients of second firm(Capital) An examination of Silver’s record reveals he has regularly used his position as Speaker to help lower taxes for developers, several of whom have also employed his second law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, to secure lower city property tax assessments. Silver reportedly was the “anonymous benefactor who tucked” into a housing bill controversial 421a tax breaks for five luxury developments in 2013 despite fervent opposition from tenant-advocacy groups, according to the Daily News. The 421a program is meant to provide incentives for development on underused or unused land. The preliminary (and ultimately final) report of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption agreed with the Daily News' assessment, finding that the “waiver was the result of negotiations between real estate interests and the Assembly. Silver A Fake Tenant Hero ”When Silver’s Assembly has passed bills that have gained the support of tenants groups, they have often been symbolic one-house pieces of legislation that stood little chance of actual enactment. So, for example, when rent control came up for renewal in 2011, the Assembly passed a bill expanding tenant protections, even though the companion bill in the Republican-controlled Senate had little chance of passage since it was sponsored by a Democrat.