Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Generation of New York Leaders Without Moral Leadership or $hame

A Generation of New York Leaders
Without Moral Leadership or $hame

You've heard of the “Blue Wall of Silence”, where policemen refuse to speak of other policemen’s wrong doing. You never hear of the “Political Wall of Silence” but it exists. The same politicians and community leaders who often protest when the police refuse to talk about corrupt cops, never ever speak out against corrupt members in their own profession. The Rev. Sharpton and others have protested and helped build public shame that ultimately weakened the Blue Wall. There is no shame in this generation of New York leaders. They are as reckless and arrogant as the police department was before the Knapp Commission.

From the Brooklyn Optimist:

This morning I read a quote in the union newspaper The Chief that made me mad: "Brian McLaughlin was a colleague and a close friend," said United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, "and this is a sad day for him, his family, and the labor movement." For those of you who don't know Brian McLaughlin, he is the former Queens Assemblyman and New York City AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President, who pled guilty on March 7th to federal racketeering charges, so that instead of facing 30+ years in prison, he'll likely only end up with 8 to 10. McLaughlin's crimes were particularly despicable. He ripped off $2.2 million from union members and City taxpayers to spend on stuff like a luxury house on Long Island, a Mercedes Benz, and country club fees. He even plundered money from a Little League set up for the children of union members. To quote the same Chief article, when McLaughlin learned that one of his corrupt confederates had spent $2,800 on equipment for the kids rather than stealing it all, McLaughlin lashed out: "[A]ll that fucking money he's fucking spending on other stuff, that ain't his money ... that's mine." Nice guy, huh?

You'd think so from the tone of Randi Weingarten's aforementioned quote in The Chief. Weingarten makes it sound like McLaughlin was a good person who somehow lost his way and carelessly fell into bilking Little Leaguers. I wonder if she would publicly express the same messianic compassion for Bernard Madoff. Now, the intention of this post is not to criticize Weingarten. She is merely representative of a political power structure that hardly ever breaks rank to criticize its members, even when they are deserving of our utmost scorn and contempt. How bad does an elected official have to be to provoke criticism from their colleagues? These days it seems like that there's no crime a politician can commit that is so heinous that their party's leaders bother to condemn them. Take Congressman Joe Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party. Crowley was one of the Congressmen who expressed moral outrage last week at A.I.G. execs for receiving millions in bonuses. Surely, if Crowley could muster so much anger over legal bonuses, he must have blown his top when he learned his longtime friend Brian McLaughlin had admitted to stealing over two million bucks from innocent people. What was Crowley's comment on McLaughlin's crimes? Over two weeks after McLaughlin's guilty plea, he still hasn't made one. (And why hasn't the press demanded one?) But then again, neither has any other elected official from Queens. Or any Citywide politician, for that matter. What about the candidates for Mayor, Comptroller, or the ombudsman of the people, Public Advocate? Not a word. Sadly, this is an all-too-familiar silence. Not one politician stood up to condemn disgraced Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio either when he was arrested last September for allegedly using a dummy consulting firm to take $500,000 in payoffs from people seeking his favor in Albany. According to the indictment, Seminerio, a 30-year incumbent, was caught on tape explaining the rationale for his scheme: “I was doing favors for these sons-of-bitches there, you know, they were—they were making thousands. ‘Screw you, from now on, you know, I’m a consultant.’”

Even State Senator Hiram Monserrate has escaped public reproach from his colleagues. Monserrate, who recently leapt from the City Council to the Senate, made the front page of every paper in the city in December when he was arrested for allegedly slashing his girlfriend with a broken glass during a fight. The incident wasn't the first blow to the beleaguered State Senator from Queens. Monserrate was already embroiled in an investigation into a highly dubious nonprofit he directed $250,000 in City money to called Libre, which was run by Julissa Ferreras, his former chief of staff and successor to his Council seat. How did Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith punish Monserrate, who was indicted this morning on felony assault charges? By throwing him a fundraiser last week! What did the Working Families Party do to chastise Ferreras for her role in Libre? They endorsed her bid for City Council. The fact that our politicians, for one reason or another, have collectively decided that it is either inappropriate or, worse, inexpedient to denounce their colleagues-turned-criminals is morally repugnant. When politicians ignore the profound injury done to society when the public trust is violated, they minimize this most serious of crimes in the eyes of the people and send a tacit message to other corrupt elected officials not to worry because their party will be behind them no matter what. They also perpetuate an environment where district attorneys feel no pressure to investigate their fellow electeds. The whole system becomes a polite détente, governed by the cynical principle that one hand whitewashes the other. This system works just fine for party insiders and our elected officials, but it damns the rest of us to endure a government stripped of accountability, transparency, and courage.

$QUEEZING THEM OUT: NYERS EYE EXIT AS RICH TAX LOOMS -DIANE RAMIREZ is successful in business, lucky in love, and a die-hard New Yorker. But don't push her too far. She might walk. "I love New York. I don't want to leave." But the thought of adding a so-called millionaire's tax which could affect couples making $500,000 is making tough New York life unbearable.

The City DETENTION THREAT: CLASSY CHARTER IN TEACHER TROUBLE *** FIRE-DAMAGED CHURCH TAPESTRIES RESTORED TO FORMER GLORY *** MIKE FORESEES FRIGHTENING FLIGHT PATTERN: Mayor Bloomberg yesterday warned Gov. Paterson and state lawmakers that they risk further damage to New York City's economy if they back a plan to increase income taxes on those earning... *** THE PLAN FOR NY'S RUIN: Gov. Paterson yesterday denied that he's on board for an $8 billion, two- year income-tax hike, as The Post reported- NYPPOST Ed *** Former NYPD Commissioner Faces Two Trials *** Cardinal Egan Not Going Out Quietly *** Display of Names at Trade Center Memorial Is a Painstaking Process *** Children’s Services Layoffs Under Fire in City Council *** NJ politico: Nets should drop Barclays naming ... *** Ed Dept. backs principal called abusive in Qns. *** City 'playing with fire' in ACS cuts *** Willets Point team spirit EDC open to bid from Islanders, sources say *** Brooklyn prekindergarten is tougher to get into than Harvard *** Oil spill in New York Harbor *** Mets Hope Every Flush Is Perfect For Opening Day *** New York Pols Who Make Tweets ***

Road to City Hall Will Placating GOP Backfire on Bloomberg? *** New York Democrats Say Power Vacuum Threatens Party Candidates *** Just two Council members have perfect attendance record *** Q Poll: NYers Cool On 'Cold' Bloomberg, But He's Still Ahead *** Poll: Weiner Leads Thompson, Both Lose to Bloomberg *** Sources: Bloomberg Will Join Steele for April 1 Event *** Bloomberg's First Campaign Video *** Report Finds Poor City Council Attendance Record

MTA $$$ A-PAUL-ING BEHAVIOR It was a hard day's night for many straphangers, but not for MTA board member Nancy Shevell. Shevell, who sits on the agency's finance committee, ditched the panel's meeting... *** MTA SET TO $OCK RIDERS: PANEL OKS $2.50 FARE *** SPEAKER SILVER'S FARE HIKE *** MTA Finance Committee Approves Fare Hike *** New Yorkers Lament Rising MTA Costs *** M.T.A. Is Set to Approve Higher Fares and Service Cuts *** How Will You Cope With Higher Fares? *** Gov. to MTA: Go ahead with Doomsday budget *** Doomsday comes for MTA, but it'll get worse *** 'TAXI' CARDS FOR DISABLED *** Richard Lipsky thinks the DN is somehow in cahoots with Bloomberg on the MTA bailout *** “M.T.A. fare hikes will eat up at least half” of the stimulus money, writes Nicole Gelinas

MTA Public Relations
Will Do Anything to Take Our Minds Off the Fare Hike

Pay to Play Adolfo, the urban legend It is time again, boys and girls, so we return to the tale of the powerful borough president who ruled over a place called the Bronx and who was asked by people for permissions to build - DN Ed *** Diazes may not be off investigation hook yet *** Another Day, Another Indictment On the heels of yesterday's indictment on assault charges of Sen. Hiram Monserrate comes a superseding indictment of another Democratic lawmaker from the other side of the Capitol: Assemblyman Tony Seminerio *** Two-Ton Tony in more trouble FEDS SLAP QUEENS LAWMAKER WITH MORE CHARGESBy BRUCE GOLDING, NY Post

Albany DAVE'S MARKS ARE WORST BY NY GOV *** HIRAM AND FIRE 'IM: DEM POLS SUSPEND INDICTED SENATOR *** MONSERRATE INDICTED: From Queens DA Richard Brown's office: *** Monserrate indicted on assault charges *** Senator Monserrate Is Indicted in Slashing of Companion *** Monserrate Loses Chairmanship, Says That 'Truth' Will Prevail *** STATE HIKES BIG-$$ HIRES: Despite a ballooning budget deficit and a months-long hiring freeze, the state government added hundreds of six-figure employees last year, an Albany-based think tank reported yesterday... *** Governor Considers Raising Annual Fees For Cigarette Vendors *** Hoyt, Stachowski To Introduce Legislation Targeting NYPA *** Weighing Paterson's Tax-Hike Choice *** Gov. Paterson waffles, fibs, bungles and mumbles - but he doesn't resolve - Daly *** Dave's bungling no surprise in Albany *** Dems and GOPers fume at cig fees plan *** Skelos hints a bum-rush budget is an April Fool's errand *** Paterson asks the New York Power Authority to reconsider rate hikes and bonuses *** State leaders still don’t have an agreement on the budget *** Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith insisted a bailout deal for the MTA is still possible, but didn't sound all that optimistic, saying: "You do the best you can." *** Newsday thinks it's time for Paterson to admit the Ravitch tolls-and-tax plan is "too unpopular" to be viable *** Millionaires for the millionaire's tax *** TNPM State Budget Gap Now Even Wider *** TNPM Silver Blames Smith for Our Imminent Transportation Disaster *** Paterson Ordering Up to 8,900 Layoffs, Blaming Unions *** Republicans give signs of blocking the budget *** Smith on Why Monserrate Doesn't Need to Resign *** GOP Senators: Monserrate Should Resign...Like Bruno! *** Paterson Orders State To Lay Off 8,900 Employees

President Obama OBAMA DROPS IN ON GORBY POWWOW WITH BIDEN *** WHITE HOUSE PLAN AIMS TO UNFREEZE CREDIT MARKETS: PROGRAM WILL BUY UP TOXIC ASSETS *** Obama trying to temper furor over AIG bonuses *** AP source: EPA closer to global warming warning *** Obama nominates federal housing commissioner *** Embattled Secretary Gets Some Nods, For A Change *** Inside Obama's Economic Brain Trust *** Obama Flinches on Immigration The suffering that illegal immigrants endure is a civil-rights crisis that cannot be left to fester while we wait for the big immigration bill that may or may not arrive under this president NYT Ed *** Bloggingheads: Obama's Ponzi Scheme *** President Obama links budget to environment; Pushes for clean energy *** President Obama: Anger over AIG isn't a governing strategy *** Obama Publishes Op-Ed In 30 Papers Around The World - Time for global action *** President Obama holds the second prime-time news conference of his White House tenure tonight *** The Reconstruction of Eliot Spitzer

Drama at Gillibrand-Clinton event: Behind the scenes, the two camps wrangle mightily over the former president's role at the event.

Cindy Adams notes “PER a reader named M. Schenkler: ‘Congress is looking into this Bernie Madoff scandal. The guy who made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by people who made $750 billion disappear.’ ”

Congress Rep. Frank calls Scalia a 'homophobe' in interview *** Justice Scalia a 'homophobe,' Rep. Frank says *** Schumer Declares His Support for Same-Sex Marriages *** Congress isn't feeling much heat from Obama's 'army'... *** Group looks to cut lobby money *** Companies try to clean up their act 40 of the nation’s 100 largest corps. are providing more details on political operations and donations *** GOP warns about budget hardball *** Pelosi's role diminishes *** Grassley: 'socialist' trend *** Follow-on biologics 'soon' *** Freeman blasts Wolf *** The new faces of GOP leadership *** It's the Bernanke and Geithner show on Capitol Hill today *** Sen. Chuck Schumer changed his mind about gay marriage.

National Corporate Money and Campaigns If Citizens United prevails in its Supreme Court case, it would allow corporate money to flood into partisan politics in ways it has not in decades NYT Ed *** Who are the big health care players? *** PoliticsGOP Begs Dick Cheney: Go Back Into Hiding

Where Are the Pitchforks and the Torches When You Need Them? Much of the citizenry would like to storm the citadel, any citadel, be it A.I.G. headquarters, the M.T.A., Bernard Madoff’s penthouse or City Hall.

Wall Street Mess A GREAT GRAB$-BY HAMPTONS HOMES GO FOR NEARLY HALF OFF *** WALL ST.'S DREYFUS IN HOSPITAL *** HALF & HALF NOT: AIG'S BONUS BUMS GIVING BACK JUST 50% *** FRANCE MANSE BATTLE: FEDS FIGHT FRENCH OVER CHATEAU BERNIE MADOFF *** French officials to seize Ruth Madoff's chateau *** NO MORE SIGN OF TROUBLE: AIG's Water Street workers were liberated yesterday from the company's toxic name. And they couldn't be happier. The hobbled insurance giant's name and logo, which stretched... *** AIG Ditches Its Tainted Name *** Dow jumps as White House moves on bad bank assets *** Aig Loses Latest Bid To Get Charity's Stock *** Bargain Homes Moving *** Trillion To The Rescue *** Search Turns Up $1 Billion In Madoff-Linked Funds *** Ruth Madoff’s Girls Have Her Back *** Madoff's Messenger Is Basically Travis Bickle *** Trustee Says He’s Found $75 Million of Madoff’s *** Rescue Plan, With Some Fine Print, Dazzles Wall Street *** When Economy Sours, Tootsie Rolls Soothe Souls *** U.S. Expands Plan to Buy Banks’ Troubled Assets *** Nafta’s Promise, Unfulfilled *** At Auto Engineers’ School, a Course in Layoffs 101 *** Hedge Fund Investors See Returns of 5 to 10% *** Moody’s Joins Standard & Poor’s in Downgrading G.E. *** Breakingviews.com: Sweating Bullets at Wells Fargo *** Television Review: That Big Hole in the Economy, and Who Dug It *** Hotel Spas Try to Lure Locals *** Stimulus? USA to buy Chinese condoms, ending Alabama jobs... *** Recession claims another major law firm *** Wall Street cheers bank rescue plan *** Goldman may sell stake in Chinese bank *** Multi-family housing sales tanked 37% in 2008 *** Official defends Fannie bonuses *** Wall Street rallies amid news of bank rescue effort *** Madoff's pain is a Queens man's gain *** Six ways car buying has changed amid the recession *** When buying a new, rather than used, car makes sense *** JPMorgan Chase to spend $120M on luxury jets ***
U.S. Seeks New Financial Oversight

International Analysis: US leaders say Afghan war stalemated *** A Tentative Free Trade Deal for S. Korea and E.U. *** Russia Recalibrates After Commodities Downturn *** BEIJING TO PITCH NEW GLOBAL CURRENCY; DUMP DOLLAR *** MEXICO OFFERS $2 MILLION BOUNTY FOR TOP DRUG LORDS... ***
$2M Bounty for Mexican Drug Lords

Media Melt Down More Bad News From Newhouses *** Ann Arbor News to shut down after 174 years *** 4 Michigan Markets Will Lose Daily Newspapers, as Ailing Industry Tries to Cope *** Genre Magazine Ceases Publication *** Chuck Todd to Revolutionize Presidential Pressers *** Kristol: Douthat Will "Do A Great Job" But He Won't Replace Me *** Howard Dean To Become Regular CNBC Contributor *** NEWSPAPER REVITALIZATION ACT: CONGRESS MOVES TO SAVE PRINT; OUTLAW POLITICAL ENDORSEMENTS...