Sunday, January 24, 2016

de Blasio, CFB, Conflict of Interests Board and the Media's NYCLASS Horse Carriage and Speaker's Race Cover -Up

Did the Silver and Skelos Arrests Dry Up Real Estate Money for de Blasio's Slush Fund PAC Campaign for One NY? 
Just 4 Groups Contributed $485 to the PAC
De Blasio committee raises $485K from just 4 donors (PoliticoNY) The Campaign For One New York, the political advocacy group Mayor Bill de Blasio created in December 2013 to advance his political agenda, has raised $485,009 from just four donors since July of 2015, according to disclosures voluntarily released to reporters.  The single largest donor to the group over the last six months was the Fund For Policy Reform, Inc., a nonprofit founded by Democratic mega-donor George Soros. The Campaign for One New York also took in $200,000 from UNITE HERE, a national labor union representing hotel workers and textile industry employees, which made its donation on November 23 of 2015.

Pay to Play Union Gets Deal On the Same Day It Contributes $200,000 to Mayor's Slush Fund
De Blasio nonprofitnets $200K from union on same day as Council boost (NYP) Mayor de Blasio’s nonprofit took in $200,000 from a food-service union on the same day a mayoral ally in the City Council submitted legislation to protect the union workers’ jobs, new financial filings show. Unite Here, a union formerly run by Hizzoner’s cousin that has given more than $900,000 to de Blasio causes, made its latest donation to the nonprofit Campaign for One New York on Nov. 23, 2015. That was the same day Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill requiring venues such as universities or sports stadiums to retain unionized food-service workers for at least 90 days after ownership changes.

Most of the Contributors In Past Cycles Had Business Before the City 
The 501(c)4’s fundraising over the past six month period is dramatically less than during the previous six month period, from January of 2015 to July 2015. During that time period, the Campaign took in $1.71 million from dozens of donors including real estate developers and unions, some of whom had business before City Hall. In contrast to the previous fundraising cycle, when the Campaign took in money from dozens of real estate developers, the nonprofit received just two donations from real estate development companies — $10,000 from DDG Development Partners, LLC and $25,000 from TF Cornerstone Inc., in the last six months. Between January 2015 and July 2015, by contrast, a slew of real estate developersdonated to de Blasio, while they were also 

Campaign for One NY Used the Same Law Firm As Advance Group Used for Their Sweet Heart Deal From the CFB
The Campaign For One New York also paid $215,000 in consulting fees to AKPD, the consulting firm that employs one of de Blasio's most trusted outside political advisors, John Del Cecato.   The group spent $45,000 on expenses related to "communications consulting" at Berlin Rosen,$86,627 over the six-month period to Kantor Davidoff Mandelker for legal expenses, and $104,705 to Hilltop Public Solutions for "General Consulting and Expenses." 

Over A Million Dollars of the Mayor's PAC Was For His Failed Iowa Presidential Forum
The mayor’s group, the Campaign for One New York, spent $1,222,091 in the second half of 2015, more than half of which went toward establishing the Progressive Agenda Committee, the liberal coalition that Mr. de Blasio founded. The mayor, a Democrat, had hoped to hold a presidential forum in Iowa, but the event was canceled because no candidates agreed to attend.

A Tale of Two Cities: de Blasio's Lobbyists and His Contributor Friends the 1% 
Two New Yorks: De Blasio’s friends — and everyone else (NYP) Say this much for Mayor de Blasio: He looks out for friends and donors. Stephen Nislick was the force behind the anti-horse-carriage group NYCLASS, which was a huge help in winning de Blasio the Democratic nomination. (The general election was a walk.) Now the deal will move the horses out of their West Side stables, so Nislick can finally acquire that property. Losers include the animal-rights nuts who wanted the industry banned, and the taxpayers who may have to pay some drivers to retire and for the renovation of the stables in the park. This comes on top of Rich Calder’s Post story Tuesday that Team de Blasio has green-lighted plans for a major, multiday music festival on Randall’s Island. Sponsoring the event is AEG Live — which paid Hizzoner’s old pal, Harold Ickes, $150,000 to lobby for it. As part of de Blasio’s transition team, Ickes even played a role in hiring Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver — who OKs permits like the one for AEG’s July 24-26 event. A slam-dunk for AEG. But two other concert promoters — who, like AEG Live, sought to hold multiday festivals — were shut out completely. And while all three applied to use Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, the site was moved to Randall’s Island, even though the AEG event may steal business from another music shindig there slated for a month earlier, Governors Ball. What a sleazy way to do city business — and what an awful message to send to cultural and business groups looking to operate here: If you don’t hire someone with personal ties to the mayor, you’re out of luck. Of course, the mayor can’t always deliver — the City Council’s rejecting his bid to crush Uber. So the taxi industry will have to collect some other favor for its generous donations to de Blasio’s campaign. De Blasio campaigned on the theme of New York’s “tale of two cities.” By treating friends and allies better than everyone else, he’s making that image true+

First Electric Cars Now Moving and Reducing Number of Carriages House in Stables in the Park, Another Idiot Idea Says the Daily News
Buck this bad dealand leave the carriage horses be (NYDN Ed) The odor of a rank sellout — of man and beast — emanates from negotiations between the union representing carriage horse drivers and City Hall. In the process, he would destroy the livelihoods of an undetermined number of drivers and support personnel, sharply cut the number of working horses and invest money in renovating a stable in the park. The Teamsters, who have much other and much larger business with City Hall, should have rejected all of this out of hand. About 220 horses pull 68 carriages. With their services spread out over the course of the day, that enables them to have rest periods. They also get at least five weeks of vacation a year. The new stables would likely accommodate 75 horses, while demand on the industry may well remain unchanged. If a reduced number of horses were to pull the same number of carriages as are operating now — a big if, but a possibility — that would mean at least double the labor for each animal. nd were to get the funds for new Central Park stables? Not from taxpayers, because de Blasio is engaged in a vanity project as payback to NYCLASS, the animal activists who financed advertising that crippled former Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral bid. Although the complexities are overwhelming, de Blasio and the Council appear to believe they can surmount any obstacle while brushing past sure legal challenges. More likely, their ideas will go into oblivion, just like de Blasio’s scheme to have carriage drivers tool around Central Park in electric Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang cars..* Sources: City offering to pay for Central Park horse stables (PoliticoNY) Upgrade could cost millions in taxpayer dollars* City Study Thwarts Pols' Accusation That Uber Causes Traffic Congestion (DNAINFO) The report recommends more regulation for the for-hire vehicle industry. 
A Tale of Two CFBs: Albanese vs Campaign PAC NYCLASS,UFT's United for the Future

True News Wags the Daily News On the Kid Gloves Fine The Speaker Was Hit With By the Ethic Board
The Daily News Left Out the Name of the Lobbyists Advance Group and Its Interlocking-Directorates to the Mayor Who Picks the Ethics Board
The watchdogs did it (NYDN) The guilty must be identified. By whom we mean the city ethics watchdogs who make sport of severely punishing low-level city workers while giving the powerful a pass. These three members of the Conflicts of Interest Board mete out unequal justice: Andrew Irving, Fernando Bohorquez and Erika Thomas-Yuille. The trio sit on a panel that investigates and punishes violations by municipal employees. The board’s record includes fining parks and sanitation workers thousands of dollars and forcing them off the payroll for accepting a box of chocolates or tips as low as $5. But when Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito broke the same law by accepting $4,000 worth of free services from a lobbying firm that does business with the Council, the board went easy. Mark-Viverito faced a maximum fine of $25,000. The board let her off with a $7,000 penalty — and let her dip into campaign funds for the money. We pounded the board when it released the ruling this month, naming Chairman Richard Briffault as chief toady. Since then, more has come to light in regard to the inner workings of this secretive outfit. In fact, Briffault, a Columbia law professor, and fellow board member Anthony Crowell, dean of New York Law School, took no part in the Mark-Viverito matter. They stepped aside because they also serve as board members of Citizens Union, the good-government group that filed the complaint against Mark-Viverito. All the dirty work was done by three little pigs Irving, Bohorquez and Thomas-Yuille.

Ethics Board Also Ignores Lobbyists Working to Elect Candidates to Help Them Make $$$ Off of City Contracts 
A gift for MelissaMark-Viverito: Ethics watchdogs let the City Council speaker off easy forconflicts of interest (NYDN Ed)  By all rights, were justice equal in New York government, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito would be out of her job today. The city’s ethics regulations bar public employees from accepting gifts — but the Conflicts of Interest Board comes down hard, in fact, unforgivingly hard, only on the little guy or gal for even trivial rule violations. Consider 24-year veteran sanitation worker Lenworth Dixon, who accepted a $20 tip from a grateful homeowner for whom he had carted off yard waste. In 2014, the board forced Dixon to retire and fined him $1,500. Or consider 20-plus-year sanitation workers Robert Bracone and Rene Torres, who had each accepted a $5 tip. The board drove both men to retire and pay $2,000 fines. Now, consider Mark-Viverito. In 2013, she accepted freebie services from a lobbyist as she campaigned among her colleagues to be speaker. Still worse, the firm represented clients who would need the speaker’s backing for legislation. According to the conflicts board, the gifted services had a value of $3,796. Despite the fact that the amount was more than 700 times larger than a $5 tip, and despite the fact that Mark-Viverito had undermined the integrity of her office, the board imposed a fine of only $7,000 Which was $18,000 less than the top penalty. Which Mark-Viverito can pay out of her campaign funds, rather than out of the city salary she’ll continue to receive. Parks Department manager Cristina Badillo never got a break like that. The board last year fined her personally $1,000 for accepting a $15 gift of chocolate liqueur and an $8 box of Whitman’s chocolates. Still worse, the board ordered Mark-Viverito to pay $4,000 to the lobbying firm of Scott Levenson, who was her partner in crime. She will take that money, too, from a campaign account. Still worse, Levenson can take that $4,000 and pay his fine, in that exact amount. Still worse, Mark-Viverito admitted guilt only after waging a long battle against the board, running up legal bills of $123,313, with more to come. Again, she’ll

Another Slap of the Wrist for Lobbyists Advance Group This Time Illegally Working for Mark-Viverito Speakers Campaign 

An Interlocking-Directorate of Lobbyists That Controls the Council Speaker
Setting precedent, Conflict of Interest Board settles with Mark-Viverito   (CapitalNY) Lawyers for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have reached a settlement with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board following an investigation into free political consulting services that Mark-Viverito accepted during the race for speaker in 2013. As part of the settlement, the speaker has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine for accepting the services, a small fraction of the $25,000 statutory maximum she faced when the inquiry was first launched. The ethics board launched the non-criminal investigation in January of last year, alleging she acted improperly by accepting help from the Advance Group — a lobbying firm which has business dealings with the city. Elected officials are barred from accepting anything of value from registered lobbyists including a gift in the form of a service. The settlement decision was strengthened by the fact that the structure of Mark-Viverito’s undeclared campaign account is different because the race was not subject to regular campaign finance rules. Normally, elected officials are barred from using campaign money to run for another office, or to spend money from transition committees which typically only help pay for inauguration events. During the race, The Advance group helped Mark-Viverito prepare for the race, which included several community forums and debates as well as behind-the-scenes politicking with council members and county party leaders who helped collect votes in her favor. * Melissa Mark-Viverito Drops Advance Group for Speaker Bid(NYO) Ms. Mark-Viverito insisted today that this was not the case but out of an “abundance of caution,” the relationship would end. Melissa Mark-Viverito Drops Advance Group for Speaker Bid - Blogs(TU) * An operative with the controversial Advance Group, Jonathan Yedin, who has been working in Brooklyn Democratic Party politics for more than a decade and belongs to Mr. Seddio’s political club. Though Ms. Mark-Viverito eventually stopped taking free advice from the Advance Group, Mr. Yedin remained a crucial player in the brokering of the deal, sources said.  Inside Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Road to Victory(NYO) * Nailed! @MMViverito must pay $7K fine for accepting free help from lobbyists in bid for job (NYDN) In addition to the $7,000 fine, which Mark-Viverito can use campaign funds to pay, she’ll pay the Advance Group $3,796.44 for its work.

No Outrage That de Blasio Paid Off A Low Life Developer Who Used NYCLASS to Illegally Go Around the Election Law to Help Him Win the Mayor's Office
A NYC Council hearing today exposed gaps in basic knowledge among city officials related to de Blasio’s proposal to remove horse carriages from city streets in all but a limited number of situations, and create a new stable in Central Park.* Mayor's horse carriage plan faces a grilling in City Council hearing (NYDN) * City Provides Few Details on Carriage Horse Plans, Council Says (DNINFO) City officials have not selected a site for the proposed Central Park stable.

Pedicab Operators See Loss of Livelihood in de Blasio’s Plan (NYT) Pedicab operators, who say they are already scorned and powerless, face the prospect of losing customers if they are banned from Central Park below 85th Street.* 'Abuse of power, plain and simple': Park and animal rights advocates slam Mayor de Blasio's Central Park horse carriage deal (NYDN) * Pedicab drivers, the group most negatively affected by de Blasio’s horse carriage deal, were an easy mark for the mayor, as they are an unsympathetic bunch for most New Yorkers, often accused of swindling tourists,the Times writes:  *  
Two Developers Defend Proposed Deal on Carriage Horses (WSJ) Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu say they care about welfare of the animals, deny their cause is about real-estate opportunities; council vote looms The two developers who pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to get rid of Central Park’s horse carriages tried on Thursday to build support for a proposed deal on the issue, disputing allegations that their cause is about real-estate opportunities and has been aided by contributions they made to a political group tied to the mayor. Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu largely funded the campaign to ban the horses from Central Park, and they described the past two years as a political “learning experience.” “Under no circumstances would I have any interest in this real estate,” Mr. Nislick said. “If they gave it to me I wouldn’t take it.” The two together gave $125,000 to Mr. de Blasio’s political arm, the Campaign for One New York, and funded a campaign in 2013 against then-Speaker Christine Quinn during the Democratic primary race for mayor. Asked whether their political contributions influenced the mayor’s decision, Mr. Nislick said no. Even though his organization has lobbied City Council members and the mayor’s office.*  The de Blasio administration will not be issuing an RFP for the horse stables in Central Park, because it would not be "appropriate." *  The City Council’s Stupid Human Tricks (NYO)
@Adrian_Benepe Mayor de Blasio NO information loons speaking for him can't answer one question @NYCCouncil asked #SHAME #CarriageOn

How Can Quinn Remain Silent When the Mayor Pays Off A Political Debt That Killed Her Chance to Be Mayor

Mr. Nislick said “we are not politicians. We do not understand the political process.”* When de Blasio announced a deal last weekend to limit horse carriages to Central Park while banning pedicabs in the park below 85th Street, it came as a surprise to the city’s 837 licensed pedicab drivers. * Park and animal rights advocates joined forces yesterday to protest the compromise plan to move the horse carriage industry to stables inside Central Park. * The two developers who pushed de Blasio to get rid of Central Park’s horse carriages tried to build support for a proposed deal on the issue, disputing allegations that their cause is about real-estate opportunities and has been aided by contributions they made to a political group tied to the mayor. While Homeless Are Put In A Decontamination in A City Hospital The de Blasio administration is so desperate to find space for the burgeoning homeless population that it’s housing downtrodden New Yorkers in a decontamination unit at a city hospital.
De Blasio switched committees from consumer affairs Espinal had the votes to kill it #CarriageGate

Wag the NYT Stenographer Dwyer 
True News Published A Picture Editorial 3 Day Before Dwyer That Stable Money Can Better Be Spent On the Homeless
 The Times’ Jim Dwyer writes that de Blasio’s horsecarriage plan solves a problem that doesn’t exist and will cost the city millions of dollars that could otherwise be spent on other issues, like homelessness

True News Also Wags the Daily News On the Speaker Statement That the Mayor Owns Central Park 
The public doesn’tcount in Central Park horse deal (NYDN Ed) Mayor de Blasio’s campaign-donor-driven obsession with carriage horses has revealed how one-party political rule distorts the minds of elected officials. First, Queens Councilman Rory Lancman: “I’ll probably support the agreement because my goal is to protect the drivers’ jobs and keep the horse carriages for New Yorkers,” he said, adding: “It really is ridiculous that we have to spend $25 million and upend not one but two industries” because de Blasio would not buck his donors. His was the pronouncement of a supine politician who would rather get along with the mayor than refuse to divert $25 million from, say, affordable housing. Next, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is backing de Blasio and just wants park advocates to shut up: “At the end of the day, the city owns the park. The city owns this facility, and the city is making a decision to invest in this facility.” First, Queens Councilman Rory Lancman: “I’ll probably support the agreement because my goal is to protect the drivers’ jobs and keep the horse carriages for New Yorkers,” he said, adding: “It really is ridiculous that we have to spend $25 million and upend not one but two industries” because de Blasio would not buck his donors.

His was the pronouncement of a supine politician who would rather get along with the mayor than refuse to divert $25 million from, say, affordable housing. Next, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is backing de Blasio and just wants park advocates to shut up: “At the end of the day, the city owns the park. The city owns this facility, and the city is making a decision to invest in this facility.”

The New York City Council has increased its spending by millions of dollars over the past two years, hiring new staff as it seeks to pass more legislation and play a greater role in the city’s land-use process under Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Journal reports:   * A day after carriage drivers criticized parts of his plan to move their industry inside Central Park, de Blasio’s animal rights friends reversed course and said they now fully embrace the controversial compromise, the Daily News writes *  The Daily News writes that the public’s opinion seems to matter little in one-party New York City on the matter of horse carriages in Central Park, as de Blasio’s political donors have been driving his push to ban the practice

True News Yesterday 
Did Mark-Viverito Just Admit The Council is the Mayor's Puppet?
Central Park is Owned By the People, Not You and the Mayor Madam Speaker
Mark-Viverito: Critics just have to deal with Central Park stable plan (NYP) City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Tuesday that critics of the city’s plans to convert a maintenance building into stables in Central Park should just accept that the city has the power to do it. “At the end of the day, the city owns the park, the city owns this facility, and the city is making a decision to invest in this facility,” Viverito said. “There are those who may think they own the park. Central Park Conservancy has a contract with the City of New York. The park in Central Park is city property, and the mayor does make decisions as to what are priorities for the city.” Outside City Hall on Tuesday, pedicabbies protested the move, chanting: “Central Park is not for sale.” *After de Blasio characterized a potential ban on pedicab rides below 86th Street in Central Park as a “fair outcome” in the deal to cut the number of horse carriages, pedicab drivers protested outside of City Hall, Politico New York reports: * The de Blasio Diaries, Chapter 53: Save a horse, ride amayor  (Vanity Fair)* "Animal rights advocates suddenly back de Blasio horseproposal" (PoliticoNY) * #NYCLASSsays it backs new bill to limit horse-drawn carriages to #CentralPark 

How Can de Blasio Spend Millions on A Stable for Horses When There Are Homeless All Over Our Streets

A day after the mayor declared the matter closed, his proposal to limit the hansoms to Central Park drew more criticism, with pedicab drivers chanting “one-term mayor” outside City Hall. * De Blasio CarriageHorse Deal Ticks Everybody Off (NYO) Stable owners, cart drivers, park advocates and pedicab cyclists are bristling at Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Council’s plan to rein in the horse carriage industry. The agreement negotiated with the Teamsters union representing the drivers would cut the city’s equine stock from 220 horses to 95 and prohibit them from leaving Central Park. The animals would live in a new stable remodeled from a maintenance building, set to open in 2018. As a sweetener, the proposal would restrict pedicabs to the area north of 85th Street in order to eliminate competition. Norman Siegel, a prominent attorney representing the carriage drivers, argued that the regulations posed a threat to his clients’ civil rights—and promised to sue if efforts to persuade the Council to reject the plan fail. “Is this really the proper use of this beautiful parkland?” Tupper Thomas, executive director of the group New Yorkers for Parks asked yesterday, noting that $25 million could restore Saint Mary’s Park in the South Bronx. “Could there be other things done there that would be more useful to the citizens of the city of New York?” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who previously called the carriage industry“inhumane,” testily defended the plan and scoffed at suggestions that the plan would poorly allocate city funds. Pedicab drivers, meanwhile, staged a hundred-strong rally outside City Hall against the plan, chanting “save our jobs.” Those the Observer spoke with argued that curtailing their activities to the north end of the park would destroy their industry, as most of their fares come from the tourist-rich area around 59th Street.*  Mark-Viverito "went on to deliver a searing rebuke ofparks advocates who have criticized the deal."(Politico) * New Yorkers Don’t Think The City Is Doing Enough to HelpThe Homeless (NYO)

Horse Feathers: Carriage Deal Is All About Making Money Off the Stables Real Estate

New York City reaches agreement on horse carriage deal  *  City officials and advocates reach a deal to keep horsecarriages in Central Park and off citystreets. (NY1) * Horse carriage industry, City Hall strike deal to keep carriage rides in NYC (NYDN) The number of horses will drop from the current 180 to 110 by December, and to 95 when new stables open in the park, according to the Council. Horses will be banned from traveling the streets outside Central Park, except when going to and from their current stables, starting in June.
The de Blasio administration announced a deal to reduce the horse carriage industry from about 220 horses to 95 and build a stable in Central Park and will seek the New York City Council’s consent, The New YorkTimes reports:  * The Central Park horse carriage industry would be significantly reduced – and its horses confined to a new stable within the park – under a deal announced late yesterday by the de Blasio administration. The agreement eases a longtime political headache for the mayor, who promised campaign supporters he would eliminate the industry on Day One of his first term.* There are currently 220 licensed horses in the city. That will drop to 110, carriage rides will now be confined to just Central Park and all of the private stables around the city would be forced to shut down by October of 2018.* Mayor @BilldeBlasio will allow 75 horses to continue plying Central Park,down from 220.Carriage horse compromise calls for new Central Park stable, reduces licenses to 75 from 180 (DNAINFO) * De Blasio strikes deal to cut number of horse-carriage drivers (NYP)

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