Tuesday, July 25, 2017

True News Reports How the Election Law and the Media Protect Incumbent Elected Officials

It is Time for A Seabury Commission to Look At How Pay to Play has Infected Government and Politics in NYC 

De Blasio Ally Didn’t Register as Lobbyist Despite Big Push for a Donor (NYT)  Neal Kwatra, a consultant and lobbyist with ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio, worked aggressively behind the scenes for Harendra Singh, a restaurant owner who had contributed to Mr. de Blasio.

Nothing in Papers About the 2017 Campaign?

The NY Post Arzt's is Still Trying to Protect the Hynes Candidates Running for DA By Blaming A Cop for the DA's Many Illegal Convictions

Why is the Post trying the blame the cop for the Hynes Illegal arrests? Is Arzt trying to protect the Hines prosecutors like Ann Swean who Seddio George boss wants to win YOU GUYS ARE MORE CORRUPT WITH THE NEWS AND ARZT THAN I THOUGHT

NYT Pushing to Connect Cuomo Harder to the Buffalo Billion Corruption Trial

Cuomo’s Office Ordered to Release Records Sought by Timesin Graft Inquiry (NYT) A New York judge has ordered Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office to turn over to The New York Times documents related to a corruption investigation of former state officials and upstate contractors that it has withheld for the last year.  The decision, issued last week but filed with the Albany County Clerk’s office on Thursday, compels the governor’s office to release, within 45 days, schedules, email and other records requested by The Times under New York’s Freedom of Information law. The Cuomo administration had fought to keep the documents secret on multiple grounds, including that disclosing them might compromise the criminal investigation.

APNewsBreak: SUNY Poly Laying off 38 in Wake of Scandal   A New York state research institute is laying off 38 employees, a shakeup that comes after its former leader was charged in a bribery and bid-rigging case that rattled Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.


Now That the Prosecutors and Courts Have Failed to End the NY's Culture of Political Corruption Only A 2018 Constitution Convention Will

De Blasio has ‘nothing’ to say about Silver’s overturned conviction (NYP)  Mayor de Blasio, who once called Sheldon Silver a “man of integrity,” had nothing to say publicly about the former state Assembly speaker’s

corruption conviction being overturned. * Joe Bruno sends Sheldon Silver 'best wishes' after conviction overturned (NYP) *  Ex-assemblyman's lawyers blew case by not objecting: judge  (NYP)   * Sheldon Silver saga’s sad conclusion sends dangerousmessage that corruption risk is worth it (NYDN)*

Silver May Start ‘Parade of Horribles’ Out ofMcDonnell Case, Critics Say (NYT)*
Dean Skelos is already trying to pull a Sheldon Silver defense (NYP) *

The CFB Catches Up With Liu for His Straw Donors Campaign Corruption That Sent His 25 Year Old Treasurer to Jail Small Fine

John Liu fined $26,000 for straw donors (PoliticoNY)  Former comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu more than $26,000 for campaign finance violations related to a straw-donor scandal that landed one of his aides and one of his top fundraisers in jail.  Liu’s mayoral candidacy was derailed in 2013 by a federal investigation into his fundraising, which began after the New York Times published a series of reportsrevealing the campaign used straw donors and failed to disclose some of its bundlers. Formal wire fraud charges related to illegal donations were brought against his campaign treasurer Jenny Hou and one of his fundraisers, Oliver Pan, and both were convicted. Charges were never brought against Liu himself.*

After 3 Years Wills Trial States What A Joke
Disgraced councilman laughs off fraud allegations in court
  (NYP) Queens Councilman Ruben Wills literally laughed off allegations that he defrauded the city and state out of $30,000 at the start of his closely watched corruption trial on Wednesday.

de Blasio Hides the Homeless and the press Helps


Cuomo Albany Special Session Pay to Play Racetrack

Developer with ties to Cuomo gets $2M tax break amid bailout (NYP) A New York City developer who is a major campaign donor placed a losing bet on an upstate racetrack — but still came out a winner when Albany granted him a $2 million tax break. Developer Jeff Gural threatened to shut down money-losing Vernon Downs, a harness track and racino in central New York, unless the state gave him a better deal. In the special legislative session called last week to extend mayoral control of New York City schools, Gural’s horse came in. In a separate bill, the state Senate and Assembly slashed the taxes and fees paid by Vernon Downs by $2 million.  Records show that Gural, who runs other tracks and casinos, has made more than $400,000 in campaign contributions to Cuomo, and legislators in both major parties over the past seven years.  The donations include $91,000 to Cuomo, $50,000 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and $17,500 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.  One watchdog questioned why the government came to the rescue of a money-losing gambling joint.  “It’s absurd for the taxpayers to be bailing out gambling operations,” said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany. “There’s sleaze factor, on top of everything else, when you have a major political donor running it. It’s the triple jackpot of bad policy and sleaze.”

Paying de Blasio's Legal Fees Paying Off his Lobbyists Lawyers While Getting Away With Pay to Play Crimes
De Blasio to make taxpayers pay for his campaign probe's legal fees (nyp)  In a sudden reversal, Mayor de Blasio said Friday that he plans to stick taxpayers with nearly $2 million legal bill for lawyers defending him against multiple federal and state...* Mayoral hopeful blasts de Blasio for making taxpayers pay his legal bills (NYP)  * De Blasio’s laughable ‘moral’ case for handing you his legal bill (NYP Ed)  Predictably, Mayor de Blasio chose the eve of a holiday weekend to pull a 180 and stick the taxpayers with his huge legal bills. Even more predictably, he tried to claim the moral high ground as he did it.  In an online statement, the mayor disclosed that after “a great deal of thought,” he’s having the city cover $2 million worth of bills for the lawyers who helped him face those multi-year state and federal investigations. Taxpayers are already shelling out some $13 million to pay the legal tab for mayoral aides caught up in the same probes — which ended with no criminal charges filed.   

De Blasio has always been legally entitled to take that route for his own tab at a white- shoe law firm. In fact, we predicted he’d wind up doing so as far back as last March.   City Hall repeatedly vowed that “no taxpayer funds will be used” to fund the mayor’s legal team. But that got harder to believe after the Conflicts of Interest Board ruled that any legal-defense fund couldn’t accept donations larger than $50.   And the delay in paying was starting to raise its own ethical issues. The mayor, after all, owes seven figures to a law firm that lobbies city agencies on behalf of clients that do city business. If he were a normal client, wouldn’t the firm have at least put a lien on his Brooklyn properties by now?  He’s making a point of not billing the city for $300,000 in legal help regarding what he considers his “non-governmental work.” 

 But de Blasio claims the $2 million is for aspects of the investigation that “relate directly to my public service and decision-making in government.”  That is, the city has a “legal and moral responsibility” to pay because those darn prosecutors went after him for doing his job!  Only Bill de Blasio would claim that there’s a moral imperative for the public to pay the high-priced lawyers who helped him avoid charges for alleged pay-to-play and favor-trading.  On the other hand, maybe selling City Hall really is his idea of public service. 

Special Parking for A Political Class of Pols

Secret parking perks for pols (NYP Ed) If New York City is going to grant special parking privileges to select insiders, is it really too much to ask that the perk be publicly reported?  Politico this week exposed the fact that City Hall won’t reveal which elected officials get placards with what extra parking rights.  “It’s the greatest perk in the world,” one former assemblyman confessed to the site.  Mayor de Blasio’s office hands out placards to City Hall staffers, City Council members and city marshals — along with at least 47 assembly members and seven state senators. But City Hall won’t say how many placards each pol gets.  And some placards are apparently extra-special. Most are supposed to be used only with a specific vehicle, but Carl Heastie, before becoming speaker, reportedly looked into getting a “universal” placard that he could switch between his personal car and one provided to him as Bronx head of the Democratic Party.

Feds Want Two Trials In Buffalo Billion Corruption Caper

Federalprosecutors call for two upstate corruption trials (TU) Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to sever the wide-ranging pay-to-play case against eight defendants involved in upstate development projects into two trials.  In court papers files Friday, prosecutors with the Manhattan-based U.S. attorney's office recommended that the complex case should be split between what have been termed the "Buffalo Billion" defendants and those involving allegedly illicit business conducted with Joseph Percoco, a former top aide and 2014 campaign manager for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  Broadly, the probe involves alleged cash payments or other gifts made by executives with three development firms in exchange for government favors or business advantage.

 A Fake Constitutional Convention is Possible

On Thursday, Cuomo said at a news conference he thinks “the devil’s going to be in the details” when it comes to the structure of the convention.  “Who are the delegates? Who would control it? What are the issues? I think that’s what New Yorkers want to know,” he said.  “If the convention is going to be run by the people who currently run the government, then I would say the purpose of the convention is basically defeated.”To be fair, Cuomo had sought to change the structure of the convention before, proposing a plan to study how to change the delegate-selection process, spending $1 million to “create an expert, non-partisan commission to develop a blueprint for a convention,” according to his 2016 agenda book. *
A Constitutional Convention for New York? This May Be the Year (NYT)  The election of President Trump has persuaded some that the state needs to chart its own course, and a ballot question in November offers that chance.



2017 Mayoral Race Update 

Bo Dietl’s bid for mayor takes a hit with link to jeweler’s ‘murder cover-up’ (NYP)  Private eye Bo Dietl’s long-shot mayoral bid got even longer when he emerged as a key figure in a suit accusing celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover of trying to help cover up a grisly slaying, political experts said MondayWill the Next David Dinkins Please Stand Up? (NYT)  The lack of an African-American challenger in the mayoral race highlights the absence of a rising generation of black politicians in New York. *
De Blasio Is in Unfamiliar Territory in 2nd Run: Way Out Front (NYT) * Faith leaders furious after big names skip mayoral candidate forum (NYP) 

Mayoral candidate wants to fix your hellish commute (NYP) “His neglect of our city infrastructure is a travesty and it is making life a nightmare for New Yorkers.”  One element of the plan would create a G train loop that extends the current Brooklyn and Queens route to Manhattan.  The G line currently runs from Court Square in Long Island City to Church Avenue in southern Brooklyn.  Connecting to Manhattan would improve access and reduce travel time for residents of northern Brooklyn, who must navigate closure of the L train beginning in April 2019.  Massey also proposes a PATH Expansion that would connect the west shore of Staten Island to New Jersey via light rail over the Bayonne Bridge, to help relieve traffic congestion on the island’s roads and bridges and provide another mass transit option into Manhattan.  The MTA recently set aside $4 million in its budget to study the feasibility of light rail between Staten Island and New Jersey. The borough has no direct rail connection to the rest of the city or Jersey. Most borough residents commute to Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry or express bus service and drive to Jersey over tolled bridges.


Deal As de Blasio Allows Charter Schools to Expand
Mayoral Control of Schools A Game of Albany Chicken With Charter Schools As A Chip and Block 

State lawmakers appear to reach deal on de Blasio’scontrol of schools and other issues after called back to Albany by Cuomo (NYDN)  *

De Blasio agrees to help charter schools expand  (NYP) Mayor de Blasio has agreed to do more to help charter schools open or expand as part of the Albany deal that extended his authority over city schools, sources said...

Potential Deal in Albany on Mayoral Control of Schools  (NYT) No votes have been taken during the special session convened by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, and thus any agreement was tentative.
The mayoral control emergency: What New York City schoolparents and elected officials should do now (NYDN)
Does It Matter Who Runs New York City’s Schools? (NYT)  Mayoral control of education in New York City is in limbo. Experts say school boards can also be effective, but may be less accountable in a city challenged by poverty.

Board of Ed. making a comeback would be bad news for de Blasio (NYP) * Charter schools still face challenges if mayoral control ends (NYP) * Cuomo threatens to call special session over mayoral control (NYP) * Does de Blasio really want to keep control the city's schools?  (NYDN Ed) * No Deal, Just Blame, on Mayoral Control of New York City Schools  (NYT)The day was full of pointed language from lawmakers, the mayor and the governor, and no plans were made to return to Albany to seek a compromise.

De Blasio's pushback on charter schools may cost him control (NYP)

What if Mayor’s School Control Lapses? A 2009 Episode Offers Clues  (NYT)  Dire warnings from the de Blasio administration notwithstanding, the last time the law on mayoral authority was allowed to expire, chaos didn’t reign.

New York City Officials Raise Pressure Over Mayoral Control of Schools  (NYTY) As the legislative calendar nears an end, officials are resisting the use of the issue as a bargaining chip.

Mayor de Blasio Waits (and Waits) for a New Mandate to Run New York’s Schools  (NYDN) Without an extension from the State Legislature, the power that the mayor has to choose the city school chancellor and set educational policy will expire at the end of June.

Why won’t de Blasio compromise to save mayoral control? (NYP)
Cuomo says de Blasio is likely to lose control of city schools (NYP)
'Compromise can be made' in NYC schools battle: Cuomo (NYP)  Cuomo on Thursday proposed a compromise in the battle over mayoral control of New York City public schools, suggesting a three-year extension that includes an expansion of charter schools.  Mayor de Blasio’s authority over the city school system expires on July 1 without action from Albany.  “There is a compromise to be made. There should be a multiple-year extension of mayoral control. You can’t do this year to year,” Cuomo told NY1.  With a just a week left before Legislature recesses for the summer, Cuomo said “I would bet against” re-authorization of mayoral control.  “They could have made this compromise a long time ago. . . .The Senate won’t do it without charter schools. The Assembly won’t do it because they don’t like charter schools and they have a component [of Democrats] that doesn’t want mayoral control,” he said.
De Blasio still jostling for control of city schools  (NYP) ALBANY — Mayoral control of New York City’s schools is no closer to a resolution with just five days of the legislative session remaining.
NY spends more money per-student than any other US state (NYP)
* The state Senate voted to give New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio five more years of control over city schools, but with conditions the Assembly refused to back, leaving the fate of mayoral control uncertain as the end of the session nears, the Post reports.  *

New York’s school-spending insanity (NYP Ed) Empire State public schools (not counting charters) spent a whopping $21,206 per student in the 2014-15 school year, the latest Census figures show. That’s the highest of any state — and nearly twice the $11,392 national average.
And the city’s even more extreme: It spent $21,980 per kid.
Notably, 70 percent ($14,769 per child) of New York’s $64.8 billion total went to salaries and benefits for the adults running the schools. That’s a revealing $6,903 (or 114 percent) more than the nation’s average.  Heck, Utah spent less per kid on all school costs than New York did on just staff.  Don’t blame New York’s high prices, either. As fiscal expert E.J. McMahon notes, the per-pupil outlay here topped that in other high cost-of-living states, exceeding New Jersey by 16 percent, Connecticut by 15 percent and Massachusetts by 36 percent.

Eva Moskowitz’s urgent lessons (NYDN) Eva Moskowitz is on a nice little roll. On Friday, a state appeals court handed her network of Success Academy charter schools a victory — and $720,000 — in ruling that New York City overstepped its authority trying to impose its pre-K contract on the network. 
State Senate Republicans are prepared to end the legislative session next week without extending the law giving New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio control over the city school system if the Assembly won’t negotiate
State pols must negotiate for Mayor de Blasio to get extended control of city schools (NYDN) State Senate Republicans are prepared to end the legislative session next week without extending the law giving Mayor de Blasio control over the city school system if the Assembly won’t negotiate, one insider warns.  The Assembly, over Senate GOP opposition, included a two-year extension of the expiring mayoral control law in a bill that also contained dozens of local taxes in counties across the state.  While the Senate Republicans, who have been warring with de Blasio, have sought to link mayoral control to pro-charter school initiatives and other issues, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie insists he will not wheel-and-deal on the issue.  “If the Assembly refuses to come to the table, they run the risk that nothing gets done,” said a source close to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County).  The high-stakes political game of chicken comes as the legislative session is scheduled to wrap up on June 21.  One bill would extend the law five years but also enact a controversial education investment tax credit that’s vehemently opposed by Assembly Democrats and the state teachers union.  The other two would extend mayoral control by one and two years, respectively. All three bills would also loosen restrictions on charter schools — a move opposed by Assembly Democrats and the teachers union.*
De Blasio needs to compromise if he wants to keep control of schools (NYP) Do Mayor de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie want to save City Hall’s control of the schools — or do they want to keep standing in the way of a deal?  Last week — with mayoral control set to expire this month, absent an agreement by the June 21 close of the legislative session — the mayor finally spoke about it with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. He reached out again Monday.  Yet de Blasio shows no willingness to compromise: “We are all for a clean extension of mayoral control that doesn’t play politics or horse-trade off of the backs of our kids,” mayoral spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein told The Post.*
Protestersargue DOE lacks budget transparency (NYP)
State Lawmakers Leverage Their Power Over de Blasio’s Schools Role (NYT)

Panic as Albany Sausage Factory Back for A Day for Mayor School Control but Anything Can Be Passed
Legislature’s special session isn’t looking like a sausage factory, but a madhouse (NYP)  What’s the impact of Gov. Cuomo’s ordering the Legislature back for a special session? Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) on Tuesday summed it up nicely: “We’re coming back tomorrow but no one knows exactly what for. It’s a mess.”   Cuomo’s action cites the need to renew mayoral control of the city schools, but lawmakers do as they wish. And rumors are rife about possible deals, since other issues up in the air include renewal of local sales taxes and the city’s personal-income tax.

Cuomo and de Blasio Stay Clear of Derailment Bad Photo Op?  Second Ave Subway Everyone Shows  For Opening  

Cuomo Declares a State of Emergency for New York City Subways (NYT)  Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also pledged to direct an additional $1 billion for capital improvements to the system, which has been plagued with accidents and delays. *

Draining the State swamp, how Cuomo wrecked the subway & other comments (NYP) * State Republicans tying MTA woes to Cuomo to derail reelection campaign (NYDN) *
The MTA can't even keep its website running (NYP)

Seeking Commuters to Help Report on New York Transportation Woes (NYT)

MTA officials barely ride the subways they overseedespite free MetroCards (NYDN)  But few MTA executives and board members can relate to their soul-crushing commutes.  Records of MetroCard swipes show that some agency brass rarely ride the subway.  A Daily News analysis found that two transit honchos swiped their free MTA-issued MetroCards only once between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2016. Another used it only twice during that two-year window.

MTA and Bridge Tolls


Some subways literally held together with zip ties (NYP)

Subway Derailment Inquiry Focuses on Track Repairs (NYT)  Two supervisors were suspended as a piece of leftover rail stored in the tracks was blamed for Tuesday’s crash. Union officials defended the workers performing such repairs.

Legislature’s special session isn’t looking like a sausage factory, but a madhouse (NYP)  What’s the impact of Gov. Cuomo’s ordering the Legislature back for a special session? Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) on Tuesday summed it up nicely: “We’re coming back tomorrow but no one knows exactly what for. It’s a mess.”   Cuomo’s action cites the need to renew mayoral control of the city schools, but lawmakers do as they wish. And rumors are rife about possible deals, since other issues up in the air include renewal of local sales taxes and the city’s personal-income tax.*

It took 50 years for the MTA to totally screw up the subway

A Political Stunt by Albanese and Eisenbach Forced deB Into An Overcrowded Subway Yesterday
Mayoral hopeful Sal Albanese tries to get an elusive deBlasio to ditch SUVs and ride subway for once (NYDN) Mayoral candidate Sal Albanese headed for Mayor de Blasio’s Park Slope gym Wednesday to try to goad Hizzoner into finally taking the subway.  But de Blasio — who often works out in the late morning at the YMCA after being driven in city SUVs the 12 miles there from Gracie Mansion, a routine that has drawn mockery — opted instead to rise early and give Albanese the slip, driving off from the gym before he arrived.  His primary challenger nonetheless brandished a MetroCard he had brought for the mayor and said de Blasio should try getting around like regular New Yorkers — noting it’s just a 25 minute ride from the gym to City Hall.  “It may be cheap symbolism in his eyes but basically, I think if he got onto the system, he would find out that people are packed in like sardines, there are delays on a regular basis,” he said, calling it hypocritical “for a guy who claims he's a progressive not to take the subway, even just once in a while to share the experience.”

NYT: A Rare Underground Appearance By de Blasio in 2013 the Mayor's Political Prop Was the LICH Hospital

Welcome to our hell, de Blasio (NYP) de Blasio decided to ditch his SUV Wednesday and get some first-hand experience of just how dreadful the city’s hot and crowded subway system has become. The mayor was accompanied by his entourage on the C train platform at 33rd Street in Manhattan Wednesday afternoon and was forced to let two jam-packed subway cars pass him by — before finding some room on the third attempt. * De Blasio Makes a Rare Underground Appearance (NYT)  * South Ferry station finally reopening nearly 5 years after Sandy (NYP)

Democratic rival finds a way to get de Blasio out of bed early (NYP)   Someone finally got Mayor de Blasio to wake up early.  Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese boasted Wednesday that he forced de Blasio to work out before his usual late-morning start time by threatening to confront him outside the Park Slope YMCA about the deteriorating subway system.  While Hizzoner is known to regularly leave the gym in his old neighborhood at 10 am or later, he was spotted pulling away around 8:40 am Wednesday by a photographer — 20 minutes before Albanese’s scheduled press conference.“We’ve already achieved a major milestone. Bill de Blasio had the earliest workout – I’m convinced – in the history of his workouts,” said Albanese.“What I wanted to do was ask Bill to take the subway: On behalf of all New Yorkers, he should experience what I’ve experienced many times. The system is in disarray and the mayor should take the subway once in a while. So we’re here to spur him on.”*

Every Elected Official Campaigns On Improving the City's Infrastructure . . .  Yet Our Trains Are Held Together With Twist-Ties

5 steps the city must take if its serious about fixing the subways (NYP)*

Joe Lhota Returns as M.T.A. Chairman to Fix Subway Mess (NYT)