Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Media Blackout of Ratner's Lobbyist Trial Become A Cover-Up

Breaking: Romney's win in Arizona & Michigan * Romney wins Michigan and Arizona(NYP) * Romney Wins Michigan After Tight Race(NYT)
* Romney Wins in Michigan, Arizona(WSJ) * Santorum calls himself a conservative heavyweight(Boston.Com) * Romney wins Arizona, but Michigan less convincingly(Globe and Mail) * Romney wins Arizona and Michigan primaries(Wash Post) Next up is Washington and then Super Tuesday * Romney Faces Stubborn Question, Despite Victories (NYT)


John Liu May Have Known Of Sketchy Donations (NYDN)

The indictment describes how Liu donor Xing Wu Pan — prior to a fundraiser — coached an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman to tell the candidate this was his “event.” Liu, the court papers state, would “know what I meant” and understand that all the campaign contributions being collected at the event were really coming from the undercover agent’s “money.” * NYC Councilman Peter Koo, a major Liu supporter and one of his top fundraisers, said the comptroller should resign “if he knew” what his operatives were up to. "My campaign has acted properly at all times. I am aware the complaint suggests there are instances where that is not the case," Liu said. John Liu tells reporters tonight that he is "stunned," vows to stay on as comptroller, will "sort out exactly what has happened"

 NYT: "In a troubling development for Mr. Liu, the charges filed on Tuesday suggested that Ms. Hou was taking instructions from Mr. Liu as she was carrying out the fraudulent fund-raising scheme." 


Liu's Treasurer Arrested

A Blog Atlantic Yards Reporter Cracks A Media Cover-Up

From Norman Order's blog

The dailies ignore on the Yonkers corruption trial; what's wrong with the Times?(Atlantic Yards Review)

So Bruce Bender, long the top government relations official for Forest City Ratner and former Chief of Staff for Council Speaker Peter Vallone, testifies yesterday in federal court about the developer's nearly desperate search for the vote that green-lighted the Ridge Hill project in Yonkers--a process that led to corruption charges against two others--and what do the New York dailies do?

They ignore it. (The suburban Journal News has been covering the story and so has the Excellent blogger of Atlantic Yards Report Norman Oder)

You can almost understand the New York Post, which did have a reporter there (and did cover the testimony last week of Bender's colleague Scott Cantone), and the New York Daily News, which didn't send a reporter.

The tabloids want juicy headlines, though, by my lights, Bender's memo to lobbyist Mike Spano, now the mayor of Yonkers, qualifies as juicy insight into how development and politics really work:

"No fucking around. Get Sandy on board. Tell your brother we need help now."
Sandy would be Council Member Sandy Annabi, now on trial, and the brother would be Yonkers powerbroker Nick Spano, a longtime state Senator turned legislator with his own recent legal troubles.

What happened to the Times?

The New York Times? Well, their federal courts reporter was in the room, diligently taking notes. I'm sure he was capable of delivering a solid report. Maybe he even wrote one.

Someone decided no, maybe the same someone who decided the MTA deal Forest City Ratner renegotiated in 2009 was worth just five short paragraphs in print, or an article on the Nets' efforts to woo fans was worth 18 paragraphs.

Even if the Times folds the trial coverage into a later round-up, the immediacy and focus will be lost. (Remember, the paper has unlimited space online.)

Yesterday, as a reporter waited on line yesterday outside the Moynihan courthouse in Lower Manhattan, I exchanged a few pleasantries with a law professor bringing a class to the ceremonial courtroom.

"There's a big Yonkers corruption trial going on in 14C," I said. "Have you heard about it?"

The answer was no.

Blame the press, especially the Times.

Shocking: Forest City Had No Idea of Their Lobbyists Criminal Backround

 We didn't know we hired a crook: Ratner firm (NYP) 6:00PM  Officials of developer Bruce Ratner’s firm are claiming the company had no clue it recruited a convicted drug dealer and election fraudster to salvage a stalled $842 million mixed-use development in Yonkers.

NY Post: Forest City didn't conduct background check into Jereis, spokesman claims they had "no way of knowing" his criminal past(Atlantic Yards Report)

Past press coverage of Jereis Legal Problems: NY Times, Journal News, NY Daily News

Murdering Democracy
The Black Out Story Should Be Titled:
 Anatomy How Lobbyist and Developers Bribe Pols to Win Billions in Government Funds

Yesterday Ratner Lobbyist's Trial Testimony

Forest City's Bender, Cantone testify in Ridge Hill trial; no quid pro quo in Jereis hiring, but they strung him along until Annabi voted; developer nearly desperate, ordered Spano to get his brother's help(Atlantic Yards Report)

Updates from today's Ridge Hill trial testimony: go to @AYReport Twitter feed Click here.

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic.” - Thomas Jefferson 

Today's NY Press Disgrace NY Journalism Hero John Peter Zenger Who Won In Court the Right of All Journalists to Write the Truth

Casey Seiler ponders a world without rhetorical grenades being lobbed at JCOPE by David Grandeau.

Are the Wheels falling off Albany's Plan to Use Redistricting to Reelect Incumbents

Federal Judges Appoint Fellow Magistrate To Draw State's New Congressional Districts(NY1)

A federal magistrate will do in two weeks what legislators couldn't do in 11 months: draw 27 congressional districts
Drawing districts to deepen divides?(NYP) * Unmapped: Update on New York Redistricting(NYT) * A Democratic Process That Goes On and On(NYT) New York’s new Senate and Assembly district lines are still in limbo, but at least there’s movement on new Congressional lines—thanks to a panel of federal judges. The three-judge panel yesterday appointed Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann to propose new lines by March 12, with a public hearing March 15 in time for candidates to start petitioning in the new districts by March 20. “What none of us have flexibility on is the deadlines,” said Federal Court of Appeals Judge Reena Raggi. The legislature’s LATFOR redistricting task force and plaintiffs who sued the state have to submit their own proposed Congressional maps by Wednesday, when David Lewis, counsel for Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Sen. Mike Nozzolio, said the Senate might pass its own Congressional lines. To help Mann get up to speed, the court plans to hire Columbia University Professor Nathaniel Persily as a redistricting expert – at $400 an hour. (City and State) * The appointment of a special master is a “pathetic indictment” of LATFOR Susan Lerner tells Jimmy Vielkind. * The Daily News editorial board doubts Cuomo can get the concessions he’s seeking in order to stave off a redistricting veto. * Despite the headline, a tabloid editorial calls on Cuomo to veto the current maps unless there's radical change to them, and also push for a constitutional amendment ensuring an independent process in the future. [Daily News] * League of Women voters urged a veto. * The Assembly and Senate majorities are prepared to submit House lines tomorrow, as required by the court. It’s unclear if these will be individual or joint/negotiated maps.* Redistricting Experts: Threaten Veto Now To Reform Later [UPDATED] (C&S)

Election 2012/13  Grimm Picks Up Union Endorsement After Rough Patch (WSJ) * Speaker Quinn Voices Support for NYPD Monitoring of Muslims (WSJ) * Where the top mayoral candidates stand on the release of the teacher data. * More On The Congressional Run Of Sylvia Kinard, Ex-Wife of Bill Thompson (NYO) * Joyce Johnson said a Charlie Rangel staffer intimidated one of her supporters.

Avella Stop the State of Your Office Crap

Hey Pols: Tony Avella Doesn’t Want to Hear Your Speech(NYO) Tony is sick of the "new fad we are witnessing is the multitude of 'State of the State' and 'State of the City' addresses."

UFT Albany Power
State education officials are split on legislation to shield teachers from further disclosures to protect a statewide evaluation system after the release of New York City teacher rankings
Parents React
Some parents of students at PS 89 in the Bronx, which had the most poorly rated teachers in 2010, plan to send their kids elsewhere, though a school official dismissed the flawed rankings

Fix teach failures – or our kids walk!(NYP)  * Why the scores matter (NYP Ed) * State Eyes Shielding Teachers(WSJ) * Video: Crunching the New York Teacher Evaluations(WSJ) * Teacher Rankings Are: A) Ignored B) Welcomed C) Puzzling D) All of the Above (WSJ) * Doing homework on kids’ teachers(NYDN) * New York City Teacher Ratings(Fox 5) * Analysis: Shaming Teachers Is Not Good Educational Poli (NBC) * Charter school teacher data released(NYP) * Mayor Bloomberg said parents have the right to see teacher evaluations.

Cuomo Comptroller Pension Battle Continues

Pension reform may be floundering because lawmakers are only obsessed with their new district lines * Governor, State Comptroller Continue War Of Tongues Over New Pension Tier(NY1) Pension Borrowing Madness  NY borrows from the pension fund 2 pay the pension fund  Cities Borrow From New York Pensions to Pay for Them(NYT) New York cities struggling with rising pension bills are increasingly borrowing from the same state pension fund they owe money to, delaying costs while banking on an economic rebound   

State and local governments are borrowing $750 million in order to meet pension obligations, a realization of the concerns first raised fiscal watchdogs when the unusual borrowing plan was first reported. * Gov. Cuomo’s Pension Proposal (NYT Ed) The governor has outlined a major pension reform for new workers in New York City and New York State that could offer desperately needed relief. * NY1 Online: Supporters, Opponents Debate Governor Cuomo’s Pension Reform * The NYT says it’s “fine” that Cuomo is flexible on Tier Six, but: ” he must hold the line on the fundamentals: bringing the retirement age and employee contributions into line with other states. There is no other way to tackle the crushing pension burden.”


 Daily News Calls Cuomo Gumby

Andrew Cuomo says, 'Just call me Gov. Gumby' (NYDN) Cuomo says he was 'born flexible' and will bend over backward to negotiate on pension reform


Pension Reforms and the Budget Are Linked

This year’s Albany redistricting battle may be the enemy of reform in more ways than one. The multipronged effort to create public pressure for pension reform is aimed at reaching lawmakers who are obsessed with protecting their seats over the next month, said someone involved in the effort. “You call up there to talk about substance, and all they want to focus on is district lines,” the source said. Pension reformers say they have to get language in the next budget, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes to resolve by late March, because it would never pass on its own later in the session. “The chances of doing pension reform outside of the budget in an election year is remote,” said Kathy Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York City, which yesterday sent Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver letters calling for action on Cuomo’s proposed pension reforms. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has organized a coalition of other mayors in the state to pressure lawmakers as well, and is coming to Albany to lobby for it Wednesday. (City and State)

Espada Has A John Liu Problem
Staffer to rat out Pedro(NYP) An employee of former New York Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.’s healthcare firm will testify that he conspired to circumvent campaign finance laws by using “straw donors” to make political contributions, prosecutors said.* A former staffer to ex-Sen. Pedro Espada is expected to testify today that the Bronx Democrat used “straw donors” to beef up his political contributions and skirt election law.

Catholic Bishops Denounce Assembly Bill Making It Easier for Sexual Abuse Victims to Sue(NYO) Bobby Davis, who alleged he was sexually assaulted by former SU basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine, will lobby for an extension of the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases.

Fake Tickets 
Sanitation workers caught giving bogus tickets(WABC)* Lawmakers: Sanitation Workers Caught Giving Phony Tickets(Huff Post)

Elevator Safety Off

Blunder led to elevator horror(NYP) * Faulty Maintenance Blamed for Elevator Death(NYT) * City Cites Firm for Safety Error in Elevator Death(WSJ)City Officials Blame Safety Switch In Deadly Elevator Accident(NY1)
 Report: Elevator safety sytem was disabled(NYDN)
* Exclusive: Elevator repair company implicated in ad exec death still operating(NYP)


Not One City Employee Indicted In the $700 Million Scam Citytime 

Trial of alleged Ed Department scammer begins(NYDN) The computer consultant accused of looting $1.7 million from the city Education Department saw an opportunity to make a lot of money “by telling lies,” prosecutors told a jury in Manhattan Federal Court


Crane Trial Continues

Crane trial shocker(NYP) Crane Boss Lomma never made good on a vow to have a cracked turntable bearing repaired as per the manufacturer’s specs, a licensed engineer’s verification and Buildings’ approval in advance, Klein said. Prosecutors said he instead hired a cut-rate manufacturer on the sly. * Crane owner avoided cuffs (NYDN)* City Finds ‘Safety Protocols Ignored’ In Deadly Elevator(WABC)


Decisive Vote Looms, Finally, for Whole Foods in Brooklyn(NYT)

 Update Whole Foods Market clears final hurdle to open B'klyn store(NYP)


Prospect Park Bike Path Back to the Future

Proposal Would Separate Drivers, Cyclists and Walkers on the Prospect Park Loop(NYT)* Prospect lane change(NYP) * Changes Proposed for Prospect Park Loop(NBC)


Waste-Transfer Station Meeting(Fox 5)





Occupy Groups Get Funding(WSJ)The Occupy Wall Street movement is set to get corporate funding from the founders of Ben & Jerry’s and other business leaders, with $300,000 raised so far and a $1.8 million goal



MTA: Tolls are up, drivers are down(NYDN)

MTA Flack Spin No Cash Toll Henry Hudson Bridge and Cut Off-Peek Fares

Cashless Bridge Is Breaking Even(WSJ) In the wake of encouraging early results, the MTA is planning to push ahead with its plans to remove all cash tolls from the Henry Hudson Bridge by fall. * MTA big has cut-rate idea(NYP) chopping off-peak prices to win back disgruntled rider * A bill that would increase the Port Authority’s accountability and would  eliminate free tolls, sports tickets and other perks for Port Authority executives is making its way through the New Jersey legislature.


Election 2012

Michigan a Testing Ground for Doubt on Romney(NYT) * A Crucial Test for Romney(WSJ) * Rick Santorum’s lack of a cohesive campaign organization has hurt his ability to take advantage of Mitt Romney’s weaknesses as a candidate. * Romney, Santorum Neck and Neck in Michigan - Josh Lederman, The Hill * Rivals Offer Different Versions of Same Message - John Dickerson, Slate * Romney's Electability Edge Has Evaporated - Charlie Cook, Nat'l Journal * David and Goliath in Michigan - Paul Rahe, Ricochet * Romney's Problem Speaking About Money - Dan Schnur, New York Times * Santorum's Rhetoric Goes to Extreme - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post * Latest Michigan Polls: PPP: Santorum + 1 | Mitchell: Romney +1 * GOP Race Could Be Headed for the Convention - Orange County Register * Romney Says His Gaffes Are Hurting His Campaign(NYT)


Jon Stewart Ridicules Santorum’s Snob Remark: You Are Against College Because It Is ‘Fancy’?



Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe won’t seek re-election.  The Democrats just gained a Senate seat. Sen. Olympia Snowe says growing polarization in Washington affected her decision to retire Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe to retire in blow to GOP(Wash Post)



 Insider Targets Expanding(WSJ) The FBI is seeking to build insider-trading cases against 120 people. The FBI also enlisted Michael Douglas, the actor who played Gordon Gekko in the movie "Wall Street," to appear in a public-service announcement

Cellphone-swiping frenzy in subway(NYP) * Transit cops increase arrests in 2012(NYDN)

Kelly Defends Surveillance of Muslims(NYT) * Police Monitoring and a Climate of Fear(NYT) Despite the risk of another terrorist attack, NYPD surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey and at top colleges raises questions about whether the monitoring is justified * Civil Liberties Groups Demand Investigation Into Federal Money Used For NYPD's Surveillance Of Muslims(NY1)* Kelly defends spying on Muslims(NYDN) * Sen. Chuck Schumer stands up for the NYPD’s fight against terrorism (NYDN Ed)  Speaks the truth about effort to tar cops as anti-Muslim * Likely mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn backs the NYPD’s surveillance of ethic communities, even as the NYCLU calls for a probe.* Hikind on NYPD Critics: ‘These People Are Nuts!’ (NYO)


Miracle cop’s face-off with ‘shooter’(NYP) * Hero cop shot in the back of the head stares down alleged(NYDN)



Shot boy, 8, lives with bullet(NYP) * 8-year-old Bx. shooting vic leaves hospital (NYDN)* 8-Year-Old Bodega Shooting Victim Finally Out Of The Ho(WABC) * 8-year-old shot at bodega released from hospital(WABC) * Shot Bronx Boy, 8, Leaves Hospita(NBC)


Police officer arrested in B'klyn after allegedly driving drunk in patrol car(NYP)


In Rutgers Case, Testimony About Text Message Exchange(NYT) * Cam kid in gay shock(NYP)*

Law and Order

‘Kid-kill’ mom sues hosp over lost ‘evidence’(NYP) * Mob ‘cabby’ no ‘Angel’(NYP) * London Jeweler Battles to Recover Stolen Diamonds(NYT) * Three Former Officers Plead Guilty in Gun-Smuggling Case(NYT) * 3 ex-cops admit to conspiracy charges (NYDN) * New Measures Sought On Domestic Violence(WSJ) * NYPD investigating synagogue theft(WSJ) * Verdict expected in deadly Megabus crash in NY(WSJ) * Ma accused of killing son sues hosp (NYDN) * Ex-NYPD cop pleads guilty to fraud rap(NYDN) * op accused of groping woman is arraigned(NYDN) * Argument ends in stabbing inside deli(WABC) * Silver Valuables Stolen from Queens Synagogue: Police(NBC) * Two N Train stations in Astoria have seen a spate of IPhone thefts.* Queens teacher's assistant back in court on sexual misconduct allegations(NYP) * Feds bust mob associate for Brooklyn bank robbery(NYP) * Teacher at Midtown High School Is Charged With Abusing Girl, 14(NYT) * Brooklyn Police Officer Is Accused of Driving Patrol Car While Drunk(NYT)