Saturday, December 19, 2009

True News Updated All Weekend - How Albany Operates Like the Mob

How Albany Operates Like the Mob

Testimony during Bruno's trial "suggested the Senate often looks over its shoulder in the same way the mob does," writes Danny Hakim (NYT)

1. Hidden Books
Federal prosecutors said the absence of recordkeeping in the Senate was an impediment in their recent investigation of Joseph L. Bruno, the former Senate majority leader, which used subpoenas to try to pull back the veil on the notoriously secretive Legislature Prosecutors Assail Albany Record Keeping (NYT)

Lawmakers can hide their role in making politically motivated grants — known as “member items” . . . They are required to disclose almost nothing about their outside business interests

“You would think for the amount of money that’s being handed out,” said Andrew T. Baxter, the acting United States attorney for the Northern District of New York, in Albany, “there would be a process that was a little easier to sort out where the money was going and why, and who was causing it to happen.

2. Documentation Missing
Lawmakers dole out hundreds of millions in grants each year, but it was often not clear which lawmaker was responsible for a particular grant. And at times there appeared to be deliberate distortions in the Senate’s records. One senator, Elizabeth O’C. Little, an upstate Republican, testified at the Bruno trial that she had no idea how she came to be listed as a sponsor of two large legislative grants in her district. The grants, totaling $250,000, went to a union local that invested pension money with a company that employed Mr. Bruno.

3. No Records
The U.S. Attorney said “there is a lot of information, or a lot of decisions being made, without any paper follow-up, without any type of documentation that would allow us to say, ‘O.K., this individual has business with the state, and this individual has personal business with this part-time legislator.’ ”

4. Paying Off the Cops
Michael Cherkasky, New York State’s top ethics regulator said the Assembly proposed changes to overhaul legislative ethics oversight was “doomed to fail,” in part because it would leave the Legislature to police itself. Regulator Criticizes Ethics Plan (NYT)

5. Goo Goos Clueless or Pay Off
Mr. Silver’s plan has support from civic groups . In 2005 Good Government groups worked with Bruno to passing lobbying and ethic reform at the same time he was using his government position to rip off the tax payers according to federal prosecutors. It is clear that the goo goos because they support reforms proposed by legislatures are a hindrance to real reform in Albany.

True News has been reporting how New York politics has tuned into organized crime for the past year: Political Organized Crime - Part I *** Organized Crime Politics - The Rigged Election System *** Organized Crime pols voting *** New York’s Political Mob Wars *** Gov Where Is Our Seabury Commision? To Investigate the Crime Wave of Corruption in NY

Sunday Update With all the layoff of reporters the NYT does not seem to have much local news on weekends these day. There top local story today?
The Kensington Post Office in Brooklyn, reviled by many as the worst in the city, may be the antithesis of the lavish, colonnaded James A. Farley station in Manhattan.Bad Post Office. Good Post Office(NYT)
and An improv group takes “yearbook” photos and rides half-dressed to change the tenor of a trip. Even in a Subway Car, This Is Strange Behavior *** With the city's new Public Advocate caught up in the WFP scandal, Bloomberg has a better chance to eliminate the Advocate's office when he puts together a new Charter Commission in the January Mike seeks a smarter charter *** NYP editorial saying it is all up to Board of Regents Chairman Merryl Tisch to increase the cap of charter schools from 200 to 400. It is amazing how many politically hard decisions Albany passes off to non elected officials. Subway and Bus cutbacks due to budget gaps and now to avoid going against the UFT making the Regents Board responsible for lifting the charter school cap that Albany imposed. A test for Tisch(NYP ED) *** NYP is also trying to keep the Kingsbridge Armory story alive with two stories Grumble in The Bronx Mall nix will maul jobs: pol and Realty bigs taking up 'arms' Kingsbridge Armory *** The Daily News says 'No evidence' Giuliani will run for Gillibrand's Senate seat *** The Daily News attacks Barron for his racial rhetoric but does not go into what he has done right or wrong as chairman of the council's higher education committee. Wrong man for big job: Councilman Barron is not fit to lead higher education panel *** The Daily News has a report how Mayor Bloomberg's gun sales investigation costs city $1.5M *** The NYT has an op ed by VP Biden The Senate Should Vote Yes on Health Care *** Spitzer is still trying to even up the score with Hank Greenberg even though he no longer runs for AIG Spitzer: Quit Hiding AIG's Email *** Polar Bear Club Takes Dip In Frigid Brooklyn Waters
2025 Pulitzer to Local News Coverage of A Snow Storm
With all the local newspapers out of business, the Pulitzer committee has been turning more and more to local TV news. This year the committee award its prize to the entire local TV industry for is coverage of a snow storm. It cited the creativeness of reporters using rulers to measure the snow on live TV and the quick thinking of a reporters with time to fill makings snow angels. The Pulitzer in the awarding of this years award cited the investigative skills of reporters who found out that local airports have hundreds of canceled flights and the buses had more delays then the subways. Finally the committee was very impressed with the local reporters ability to get the big interviews citing how each station was about to interview the same man dressed as Santa in Times Square.

Real Journalism Expose Congresswoman Cluelessness
If you want to see a report knock a congresswoman off the house leaderships talking points on health care watch MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan's interview with Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Ratigan said the insurance companies stocks have gone up in the last few days because Wall Street has been convinced that congress will continue the money making monopoly that health insurance companies have had over the nations health care system. Ratigan went from conversational to heated when is became clear that Wasserman would not go beyond her talking points. Wasserman said congress was going to shift from health care system to Consumer system. Ratitian said the congresswoman was not answering her questions about why the health care stock when up. Wasserman then said she is not stock analysis and does not know why the stocks of health care are up. Do we elect people to congress who doe not understand why the stocks go up? Come to think of it Wasserman had a dummy know it all smile on her face throughout the interview. Watch the video here

More Arrogant Players
Times says editing of staff done for now In a memo brazenly entitled "We can exhale now," Executive Editor Bill Keller said he has reached the goal of reducing the Gray Lady's newsroom head count by 100 people, including 26 ousted over the past three days. The Times' misspelled memo

Bloomberg Improves his MTA Economic Forecasting Abilities Since the campaign billionaire seem to have sharpened his MTA budget forecasting skills, he now see the structural multi years problem with that agency. During the campaign he thought there was enought money to pay fo free crosstown bus service, even with the rejection of his revenue generating but not to popular in the outer boroughs congesting pricing plan. Mayor Proposes Free Crosstown Buses - Now the campaign is over the Mayor got his economic grove back. On his weekly radio show Bloomberg said "People are screaming about what they do now; wait until they see what happens in March," Bloomberg told WOR's John Gambling, reiterating that this all probably could have been avoided if Albany had seen fit to go along with his congestion pricing plan. We suggested it two years ago," the mayor said. "And I don’t know the MTA would have had all its problems solved, but it would have a lot of money and could have used most of that to get more bus lines, make the subways run faster, make the subways safer." Will the MTA Destroy NYC?

Where was the Times with these stories BEFORE THE ELECTION? Welfare Rolls in New York City Begin to Rise, Belatedly - *** Bloomberg wins elections and then cuts back on everything he promised 4 Schoolyards Cut From Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Goal of 290 Parks - *** City nixes 3,000 Section 8 vouchers
Poll: New York has been ranked the country's most unhappy state

New York Economic &
Compentency Melt Down Food stamps on the rise in BK *** City water use down, but rates could go up *** EMT duo on break let preg mom die
*** Misdiagnosis ruins woman's life, marriage ***Stuy Town Nine Are Like a Chicago Seven for Renters

Election 2010 Thompson Won’t Rule Out Pursuing U.S. Senate Seat If he could not raise enough money, with matching funds, to run for mayor, what makes him think he can raise enough to run for US Senate? He could win? *** 'No evidence' Rudy Giuliani will run vs. Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate seat

Inside City Hall Mayor Bloomberg's gun sales investigation costs city $1.5M ***
Riches to rags: Mike forgoes inaugural fete *** Bikers in the buff to protest demise of bike lane *Naked bikers to protest loss of Williamsburg bike lane*** Strapped Ed. Dept. dishes out raises *Education officials get huge raise despite budget crisis *Schools Chancellor Announces Pay Raises, Layoffs For DOE** Simple fix for complexes: Housing authority chief has smart new financing plan (DN Ed) ***Did Staten Island BP have police wrongfully arrest activist? *** City to Cover Rent for Families Who've Lost Section 8 Vouchers

Pay to Play City Council Hammer time: Thieving ex-Councilman Martinez should do every day of his five years *** More incoming councilmen acknowledge being approached by feds concerning WFP
Who Judges the Judges? 'Insulted' judges growl Several judges are seething over what they charge was an "insulting" call by Mayor Bloomberg's top legal adviser to make the bench "more accountable.".

Law and Order Wheelchair-bound men in knife fight, one dead *** Cops find bloody gun near upper West Side slay site *** Man killed in lobby of Harlem building ***Cops eye murder gun
*** Saturday Massacre gun missing *** Kerik's explosive e-mail to the White House *** Bloody butcher rob *** Ex-union big out on $100K bail (Newspaper Mailers Union) *** On the Upper West Side, Killings Bare a Grit That Never Left *** Man Accused in Parking Scam on a City Lot *** Woman Hangs Herself at Police Station After Marijuana Arrest*** Judge slaps gangster 'Mikey Cigars' with 16 years in jail *** S.I. man first DWI driver impacted by Leandra's Law *** 9/11 hero cop wins $1M on TV poker show *** Police Continue Search For Gun Used In UWS Shooting *** Bedbug Complaint Leads to Lewdness Arrest in NJ *** Woman survives Brooklyn Bridge plunge into frigid East River *** Wheelchair-bound men in knife fight, one dead

More City News Bad Post Office. Good Post Office The linoleumed Kensington Post Office in Brooklyn, reviled by many as the worst in the city, may be the antithesis of the lavish, colonnaded James A. Farley station in Manhattan *** Brooklyn Library Celebrates 40 Years Of "Sesame Street" *** Too cold for nude protest, NYC bikers switch gears *** Sitt, City Close Coney Island Deal: About 7 Acres for Us, $95.6 Million for Him *** Williamsburg topless bike protest is a bust *** Bryant Pk. rink pulls a fast one This will leave skaters cold -- the Bryant Park ice rink, which boasts it is the city's only free skating venue, now sells "VIP fast passes" for $19
Off to the RacesA competitive Earth Race led by America can be a more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference (Friedman NYT) *** China 'positive' on Copenhagen summit (AP)
*** China and Indonesia welcome Copenhagen summit deal BBC News

***Saturday U.N. Climate Talks ‘Take Note’ of Accord Backed by U.S. *** Obama praises a climate flop *** A Little Shoving at Copenhagen *** Last Minute Deal in Copenhagen Satisfies Few - Bryan Walsh, Time *** It's Settled: Climate Circus Was a Fairy Tale - Mark Steyn, OC Register *** 11th Hour Climate Deal Slightly Better Than Nothing - Boston Globe *** Five Countries Forge Climate Deal *** Copenhagen closes with weak deal that poor threaten to reject *** In Copenhagen, a Last-Minute Deal That Satisfies Few *** Obama's climate deal unravels at last moment Times Online *** China's delaying tactics threaten climate deal (The Independent) *** Climate Summit Recognizes U.S. Deal Wall Street Journal

White House The Election Sabotage Commission President Obama needs to fulfill his 2008 campaign commitment and begin filling the Federal Election Commission with new, truly independent experts (NYT Ed) *** Taming the Fat CatsPresident Obama should push congress to enact a levy similar to the hefty tax on bonuses that the British have used to realign boundless greed with public interest (NYT Ed) *** Critics call Obama's climate deal all hot air
*** Obama says nation on 'cusp' of making health care reform a reality *** ObamaCare: A Round Square - Thomas Mitchell, Las Vegas Review-Journal *** We Need an 'Earth Race' Strategy - Thomas Friedman, New York Times *** Playing Beat the Clock in Afghanistan - David Ignatius, Washington Post *** Obama's Copenhagen Deal - David Corn & Kate Sheppard, The Nation *** 11th Hour Climate Deal Better Than Nothing - Barely - Boston Globe *** Axelrod to Dean: Not Insane, But His Facts Were Wrong *** Axelrod to Iran: There Will Be 'Consequences'(ABC)
*** Saturday U.S. to Make Stopping Nuclear Terror Key Aim *** President Obama touts 'breakthrough' on climate change at Copenhagen, but deal lacks teeth *** ABC: Obama Ordered U.S. Strikes That Killed Terrorists In Yemen *** Obama's Minimalist Climate Deal - David Corn & Kate Sheppard, The Nation *** Obama's Not Perfect But He Deserves a B - Edward Luce, Financial Times ***Merry Christmas, Obama! Last health care holdout Sen. Nelson agrees to support bill *** Obama hails 60th Senate vote for health care *** President Obama Hails Senate Health Care Bill - Huma Khan, ABC News *** Senate GOP Blasts New Health Care Bill - Michael O'Brien, The Hill *** Left/Right Populist Rage Will Defeat Bill - Jane Hamsher, Huffington Post *** Stupak: Abortion Compromise 'Unacceptable' - Ben Smith, Politico

Diebold may see recount The Department of Justice could vote down an already-completed merger of the two biggest makers of voting machines.

Congress Democrats Clinch Deal for Deciding Vote on Health Bill *** Negotiating to 60 Votes, Compromise by Compromise *** Senate healthcare bill set to pass by ChristmasLos Angeles Times *** Senate extends COBRA subsidy and federal unemployment filing deadlines *** Nelson's Compromise Pays Off for Nebraska Feds will pick up state's costs for Medicaid expansion *** GOPer sets new push to oust tax-challenged Rangel*** Vanity tax burns tanners New tax replaces plastic surgery ***Payoff for Ben Nelson: Free Medicaid *** Senate Healthcare Bill Set to Pass by Christmas - Levey & Hook, LA Times *** The Underlying Divisions in Healthcare Debate - Glenn Greenwald, Salon *** Dems' Health Care Bill Is Political Suicide - Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics ***Could Nelson Lose His Job? ***Nelson Accused of Selling Vote on Health Bill for Nebraska Pay-OffFOXNews *** How health lobbyists influenced reform bill Former staffers of lawmakers from Harry Reid to Mitch McConnell push clients' agenda (Chicago Tribune) ***Brown: GOP Protecting Ebenezer Scrooge (CBS) ***Feingold: Obama Responsible For Loss Of Public Option
*** Saturday What Ted Would Say: Victoria Reggie Kennedy Pens Op-Ed, Backs Senate Bill *** John Kerry Takes On Howard Dean For 'Kill The Bill' Comments *** Senator Reports Progress in Talks on Health Bill *** Helping Dem-selves More stimulus $$ to 'liberal'-spending pols *** War Opponent to the Rescue of Defense Bill *** Ethics Office Closes Inquiry on Lawmakers’ Ties to Lobbyists *** Reid declares 'real progress' in health care reform talks *** Health care bill snowed in by political shenanigans in Washington, D.C. *** Reid declares 'real progress' in health care reform talks *** Absent Broad Support, Bernanke Should Withdraw - Larry Kudlow, RCM *** Dean Says Bill is "Hocus Pocus" Reform - Joe Conason, Salon *** Teddy Would Have Voted for Bill - Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Washington Post *Victoria Kennedy Backs Bill** Health Care Bill Is Political Suicide - Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics *** Military Spending Bill Passes *** US Democrats strike deal on health bill Reuters *** Nelson supports health bill after tough bargaining *** Minority Businesses Shut Out of Stimulus Loans - New American Media *** Congress Investigating Charges of Afghan 'Protection Racket' - Wash. Post *** Democrats Clinch a Deal on Health Bill *** Abortion coverage battle on health bill continuesThe Associated Press *** Senate OKs boon for jobless CNNMoney *** GRAPHIC: How the bills stack up (Wash Post) *** Health care wearing on Dems (Wash Post) *** Senate Democrats Forge a Deal - Hulse & Herzenhorn, New York Times ***

Political Parties Pawlenty vs. Romney: The Race Begins - New Hampshire Union Leader

Blunder on the Mountain It’s impossible not to think of Osama bin Laden’s escaping from Tora Bora as one of the greatest bungled opportunities in history (Dowd NYT) *** Al Qaeda-Linked Suspects Sent To N.Y. On Drug ChargesNBC New York *** Dead man walking: Illness-faking Pan Am Flight 103 bomber must be locked up again *** Chicagoan Said to Have Helped Terrorists Target Nuclear Plant *** Saturday Judge Is Asked to Reject Terror Defendant’s Claim That He Didn’t Receive a Speedy Trial *** Fort Hamilton to Get Federal Antiterror Money *** Illinois Town Sees Economic Bonanza as New Gitmo - Joe Barrett, WSJ *** KSM Should Be Tried by the Military - Senator Orrin Hatch, New York Post *** Three Charged in al Qaeda Drug Case ***
International Top Iranian Dissident Cleric Dies *** Iranian dissident cleric Montazeri diesA Dead End on Iran - Chicago Tribune *** Karzai Unveils New Cabinet ***U.S. Companies Shut Out as Iraq Auctions Its Oil Fields *** Pope John Paul II closer to sainthood *** Afghan Killing Bares a Karzai Family Feud *** Dutch teen who sought solo sailing trip disappears AP *** U.K.-France Rail Service Suspended Tens of Thousands of Travelers Affected by Shutdown After Breakdown of Eurostar Trains in Channel Tunnel ***Poland declares state of emergency after 'Arbeit Macht Frei' stolen from Auschwitz | World news

National Boola Boola, Boola Boola: Yale Says Yes, 4 Times *** Cancer Center Ads Appeal to Emotions at a Fragile Time *** In Sudden Slump, Charlie Crist Seems Lost - Beth Reinhard, Miami Herald *** The Rot At Duke -- And Beyond - Stuart Taylor, National Journal *** How Las Vegas' Opulent CityCenter Survived Dubai *** Utility Shutoffs Climb by 5% Despite Doubling of U.S. Aid - Wall Street Journal *** Calif.‘s Failed No-Bid Bond Sale - Bloomberg *** Louisiana Has Big Stake in Health Care Debate *** Will Prisons Be Less Crowded?

Wall Street
20 most memorable business events of the decade *** Trump, Icahn trade barbs in Atlantic City casino fight *** AIG Show Us the E-Mail By ELIOT SPITZER, FRANK PARTNOY and WILLIAM BLACK *Snow Threatens Weekend Sales** Bankers' Bonuses Won't Pay for Our Bailouts - Heidi Moore, The Big Money *** Banks Stupidly Pay Back TARP At Our Peril - David Pauly, Bloomberg *** Thanks, Ben, For Doing All Our Dirty Work - Joshua Zumbrun, Forbes *** Bernanke's 2009 Was Easy. 2010 Won't Be - David Callaway, MarketWatch
John Mack, Morgan Stanley's chairman and chief executive officer, won't accept a bonus for a third-straight year *** GM to pull plug on Saab *** Executive at Barclays Defends Pay *** Unlike Most on Wall St., Morgan Stanley’s Chief Will Forgo His 2009 Bonus *** We Wasted a Perfectly Good Financial Crisis - Paul Barrett, BusinessWeek *** Group: SEC Ices Staff Probes - Politico *** FDIC Shuts Down Seven More Banks

Media and New Tech A Reader’s Digest That Grandma Never Dreamed Of *** Boffo Box Office for Avatar *** Imus Radio Syndicator Files For Bankruptcy
*** Saturday
The local angle Google in talks to acquire Yelp Inc., a popular site for searching for local businesses *** Web Attack on Twitter Is Third Assault This Year *** Google Said to Be Near a Yelp Deal *** Google Loses in French Copyright Case *** WATCH: Charlie Gibson Signs Off From "World News" *** Amazon Cheers Record Kindle Sales for December PC World *** Google Talks Transparency, but Hides Surveillance Stats - Wired *** Paris Court Convicts Google *** TV Makers Gamble on 3-D at Home *** Google fined $14,300 a day in France over books ***Teacher who punched 'Jersey Shore' girl apologizes

Blog Report
Recovery Zone Bonds for a Project that Won’t Aid Recovery (Clawback) *** City Approves Plan for More Electricity Submetering (PULP Blog) *** City Court Date Reporting System is Paperless ( *** Bloomberg Inspired by Danish Offshore Wind Farms (Inhabitat) *** MTA Would Still Be in Current Mess with Congestion Pricing (NY Fiscal Watch) *** Voting for City Software Application Competition Now Underway (NYC BigApps via Open NY Forum) *** Big Picture Questions: Does MTA Chairman Jay Walder Comprehend Atlantic Yards Link to MTA Cutbacks? (Noticing New York)