Monday, January 12, 2009

Inspector Clouseau Investigates

Inspector Clouseau Investigates
NYC Political Corruption

When a candidate for council was asked recently at a community meeting if she had been questioned about the investigation of the City Council member items slush fund scandal, she truthfully said no. A review of the member item scandal and other recent political corruption cases that made headlines reveals a very definite pattern. The investigations are more like shooting stars that flare for a second and then burn out and become forgotten by the prosecutors and the media after the headlines disappear. It is another third rail of politics that the media never reports on – the fact that the prosecutors in this one-party incumbent-protected city, must rely on those same elected officials and their political partners to get reelected.

When political corruption cases are brought to trial in NYC they are always limited to the individual charged. There is never a serious attempt to turn someone who has been caught into a “Sammy the Bull” type witness and to bring down the entire culture of political corruption itself. Those involved, know that their chances of being caught are slim to none and behave accordingly. A limited review reveals just how interconnected the corruption is, and how the investigators are missing in action.

Never Questioned
“Lots of people out there, including my opponents, have said, ‘You know, there’s an investigation and all these things.’ I have personally not been contacted by anyone,” said Ferreras, who hopes to replace Monserrate in the Council. “And as soon as I’m contacted by any agency or district attorney or whatever it is that people are saying out there that has contacted me, I will be more than happy to answer any and every question to the best of my ability.” Ferrerras served as the chairman of the board for the organization Libre, which received $400,000 in public funding. The organization is unable to account for the money, and the matter is now under investigation by the Queens district attorney. Politicker, Jan.6, 2009

Times Last Story on Libre 7 Months Ago
“The Queens district attorney’s office and the City’s Department of Investigation are looking into allegations that more than two dozen workers for the nonprofit agency Libre, collected signatures to help Mr. Monserrate get on the ballot in 2006 for his unsuccessful bid for the 13th Senatorial District seat in Queens, the official said.” – May 8, 2008

Slush Fund + Lobbyist + Judicial Corruption = Getting Away With It
It is not only Libre - dozens of councilmembers were shown to use the City’s budget to benefit family, friends and their own re-election efforts. All of those newspaper articles were written at the time of the federal indictment of two council workers – there has not been a story or follow-up since. The Press could have written about a member of a politically connected lobbyist firm that received the most member item funds from the City Council, and who walked away from judicial corruption a few years ago.

Judicial Corruption and Driscoll "Between 1995 and 2001, Bill Driscoll, an attorney, pulled in more than $320,000 in fees from guardianship appointments he received from judges installed by Manton. Even after 1998, when he became part-time counsel to the Queens County clerk, he kept getting the appointments—though he should have been banned from further guardianships, as a 2000 Newsday article noted. How had that issue been resolved? "As our business (Parkside) was growing Driscoll stopped doing the things in question, so it became kind of moot," said Stavisky. – Village Voice, Feb 21, 2006 .

Pols know that New York is the Wild Wild West – they can get away with it all – just like their brothers on Wall Street, and only the public pays. It is important for the press to stay on top of this story because of the changes occurring in the U.S. Attorney's Office which is leading the investigation into the member items scandal. The head of the office, Garcia, has left and the future decisions of that office will be made by the team Obama and his new AG put together.

Another Investigation Gone and Forgotten
Disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi's longtime top political consultant Hank Morris was paid over $25 million in fees from firms doing business with the state pension fund. There has not been one press follow-up, or even a question to future Comptroller candidates on how they would prevent this type of abuse in the future.

City Hall State Weighs Approval of School Dedicated to Hebrew *** New York City Council Seeks Grace Period for Parking Violations *** Atlantic Yards project on last legs? *** Next NYC campaign filing deadline *** Mr. Oddo's dilemma *** PLACARD BLITZ NAILS DA COPS: PARKING-PERK ABUSERS *** CREDIT THE CARDS FOR TAXI-TIP BOOST *** Breakdown of the Yankees' bond request *** Lights, camera, more action at city studios *** Bloomberg faces payback from Senate Democrats *** WEINER DOES FIVE-BORO BLITZ - fund-raiser closed to the press? *** COUNCIL TARGETS 'GOTCHA!' TIX - grant illegal parkers a five-minute grace period *** Post Editorial: THE MTA'S MATRIX OF MUSH *** A spokesman for Michael Bloomberg declined to say if the mayor will continue supporting Republican state senators *** Mr. Bloomberg strikes out - Albany Times Union

Wall Street Mess Robert Rubin's Free Ride: How does Clinton's treasury secretary escape blame for the market meltdown? *** Adding to Recession’s Pain, Thousands to Lose Jobless Benefits *** New Honda Hybrid Challenges Prius, Promises To Revolutionize Market *** Brooklyn's Court Street Hurting *** 2009 DETROIT AUTO SHOW: Battery-powered cars spark buzz *** Madoff Apologizes to Neighbors for the Ultimate Co-Op Crime - media scrum in the building lobby *** Madoff victims: Toss Bernie in jail and let him rot *** A few investors spotted Madoff's red flags *** Bush's Economy Worst in Generations *** Fixing the Stimulus *** Citi May Book $10 Billion Gain on Morgan Stanley Deal *** Bank of the United States Citigroup cuts a deal with its new bosses on Capitol Hill *** Small Town Rescinds Request for $375 Million of Stimulus Cash.

Washington Obama: More oversight, openness needed in bailout *** Senate May Vote This Week on Remaining Bailout Funds *** Politics: Obama Team Offers Concessions On Stimulus *** Senate Dems set Feb. 13 goal for stimulus ***Burris lawyers in Senate Monday *** Gimme my seat, sez Blag pick *** The Craft of Graft: Gov. Rod Blagojevich is giving corruption a bad name *** Obama is a Political Party of One - Times *** How Obama Will Get What He Wants - Guardian,Tomasky *** Building grassroots health reform *** Gitmo's a no-go, sez Bam *** Tuskegee Airmen get front-row seats at inauguration *** Dodd could face serious challenge in re-election bid *** THE SUN BEGINS TO RISE on Obama’s energy plan *** Obama bumps up against egos in Congress - LA Times *** Thousands making trip to Obama's inauguration - Chicago Sun-Times *** What's next for Obama's Web team? - Mother Jones *** George Bush Top 10 Moments - David Letterman Show

Albany Will transit-strike judge's role matter in Paterson pick? *** It's still unclear if AG Andrew Cuomo has interviewed with Paterson for Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat *** PATERSON JOINS ISRAEL SUPPORTERS IN MIDTOWN *** 7 Officers Hurt in Gaza Protest Scuffle *** A Bigger Dirty Tricks Scandal? - Some members of the state Public Integrity Commission, official watchdogs over public ethics, have hired private criminal attorneys because of an ongoing probe into leaked information *** Gianaris proposes shortened work week *** Daily News Editorial: Editorials: Smith Does he have what it takes? to change Albany? *** Jacob Gershman notes the absence of any mention by Paterson of public corruption in his first SoS address *** Caroline Kennedy is 'impressive' at Brooklyn pol confab *** State transit troubles: Lawmakers are playing a tax shell game with the California budget that eliminates money for buses and rail *** Schumer, Paterson talk stimulus today in Albany *** State Senate rules reforms to be revealed today *** Soda tax foes speaking up.

Media Meltdown Mess Sun-Times Media Group to Close 12 Suburban Papers *** Who Will Be the Last Media Giant Standing? *** Billionaires Who Buy Newspapers - Wolff *** Goosing the Gray Lady *** Could some "cybergeeks" working on the Times Web site save the paper *** Magazine Readers Can’t Afford a Country Home *** Journalism Timeline.

2009 Bad News for the News Business
• Newspaper stocks fell an average of 83.3% in 2008 *** Newspaper audience penetration has fallen a third, from 23% to 16%. In that time, circulation fell 14% (59 million to 50 million *** Viewership for network evening news continues to decline *** Since 1994, newspaper print advertising revenue fell on an inflation-adjusted basis by 10% *** Since 1994, the number of newspapers in America fell from 1,548 to 1,422, according to NAA *** In 2008 alone, 15,586 newspaper jobs were lost *** In 2008, the Pew Research Center found that the Internet surpassed newspapers as a primary source of news for Americans (following TV). For young people, 18 to 29, the Internet will soon surpass TV at nearly double the rate for newspapers *** Survey found young people 12 to 25 will “never read a newspaper.” *** In 2008, the American Society of Newspaper Editors took “paper” out of its name.