Sunday, February 28, 2010

Queens Con Artist Raghunath on Lam in $7M Mortgage Fraud by John Marzulli - NY Daily News

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The FBI is hunting for a Queens man who went on the lam last week before he could be arrested for masterminding a $7 million mortgage fraud scheme.

Ishwardat (Danny) Raghunath, 46, a Guyanese national, is accused of ripping off lenders and leaving numerous homes in foreclosure.

He allegedly recruited straw buyers with good credit ratings to purchase homes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, according to an indictment in Brooklyn Federal Court.

In exchange for a $5,000 fee for using their names, the buyers were promised that they would not have to make payments on these "investment opportunities," the indictment says.

Raghunath submitted bogus mortgage applications to lenders, inflating the sales price of the properties, then deposited the loan money in a bank account he controlled.

After several months the mortgage payments stopped, and the lenders brought foreclosure actions against the buyers.

Also charged in the scheme are Halal Ahmed, 40, of the Bronx, and Phyllis Seemongal, 49, of Queens. They were arraigned on bank and wire fraud charges on Tuesday.

When FBI agents went to Raghunath's home in South Ozone Park on Monday night, he was already gone, said a spokesman for the FBI.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-5000.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

City to Stop Rockaway Ferry in March by Nicholas Hirshon - NY Daily News

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Ferry that connects the Rockaways and Wall Street will end service on March 19. City says it serves only about 160 commuters weekdays.

The Rockaway ferry won't see its second birthday.

The city will terminate the flailing ferry on March 19, ending a short-lived experiment that carried commuters between Breezy Point, Queens, and Wall St.

The $6 ferry was subsidized with about $1.5 million in City Council funds. But the cash dried up as ridership dipped below a mandated threshold of 300 daily passengers, city officials said.

Elected officials immediately opposed the ferry's discontinuation.

"I'm personally outraged," said Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway Beach). "The Rockaway ferry is a lifeline for so many people who rely on it to get to and from work each day."

A spokeswoman for Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a key proponent of the Rockaway ferry, said that she remains "fully committed to a five-borough, year-round ferry system."

The Economic Development Corp. maintained that the ferry averaged 160 weekday commuters, with far fewer riders during weekends and the winter.

Fare collections recover no more than 30% of the ferry's operating costs, said EDC spokesman David Lombino.

As a result, the city subsidizes the ferry as much as $100,000 every month - or about $25 per rider, Lombino said.

But the ferry's operator, Tom Fox, insisted the passenger average was 176. He also said that ridership jumped 2.3% from 2008 to 2009, while ferries declined in popularity citywide.

"I saw it trending very positively," Fox said. "It has tremendous potential."

Many riders prefer the ferry, which departs from Riis Landing three times daily and returns thrice a day, over the long A train ride into Manhattan.

Susan Malley, who lives in Breezy Point and commutes by ferry to her secretarial job near Wall Street, said she might "cry" without the reliable sea service.

Asked to describe her emotions, Malley replied: "Upset is putting it mildly. They [city officials] must be joking. The A train takes an hour and a half to get to downtown alone."

Fox blamed the ferry's demise on a lack of marketing since its 2008 debut. He also bemoaned the inability to easily transfer to the subway.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, meanwhile, targeted the hefty fare.

"We're not giving up on ferry service, but we will have to see how an alternate means of transportation can be achieved with a fare that is not $6 one way," she said in a statement.

The EDC is conducting a citywide ferry study that includes Rockaway and potential landing sites in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, Lombino said.

Long Island City is among the Queens options, Lombino said, adding the city aims to start "sustainable" East River ferry service in 2011.

Advocates Believe New York May Be Next to Legalize Medical Marijuana by Arun Venugopal - WNYC - News

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As of last month, when New Jersey signed it into law, there are 14 states that allow the use of medical marijuana. Some people think New York could be No. 15, and are watching as a bill winds its way through the state Senate and Assembly. WNYC's Arun Venugopal has more on the legislation and the people who would benefit.

Audio Time: 4:31

Friday, February 26, 2010

Panel for Educational Policy "Puppet Show" by Elizabeth Rodd

This is a must-see video from the January PEP meeting...

Panel for Educational Policy "Puppet Show" from Elizabeth Rodd on Vimeo.

Lisa Donlan and Jane Hirschmann from Time Out From Testing testify at the Panel for Educational Policy Hearing, held at Brooklyn Technical High School on January 26, 2010.

Over 350 people signed up to testify regarding Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to close 19 schools considered failing. Each speaker was allowed two minutes to make comments.

If you would like donate to a documentary film that follows grassroots education activists working against the education reforms underway in New York City, please contact

Blizzard of 2010-02-26

Click here to view these pictures larger

Some photos taken while I was out shoveling in front of the house today...

Statement from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

I am sure this is a difficult choice and a sad day for the Governor and his family. It is in the best interests of all New Yorkers that the state government function through this difficult time and address the pressing budgetary problems we face. This is an election year and I will announce my plans at the appropriate time. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on my job as Attorney General and the many important issues we are pursuing.

New York Gov. Paterson Won't Seek New Term -

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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Gov. David Paterson, who repeatedly and defiantly said he would let voters decide if he should run the state, abruptly quit his nascent election bid Friday amid a stalled agenda, faltering popularity and criticism of his handling of a domestic abuse case involving one of his most trusted aides.

"I cannot run for office and try to manage the state's business at the same time," Paterson said at a televised news conference announcing his decision.

The governor said that he is "being realistic about politics," and will step aside after serving out the remainder of his term.

Story continues below ↓
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Paterson, who had publicly prided himself on beating the odds, including overcoming blindness to rise through treacherous New York politics, formally announced his campaign last weekend but faced mounting calls to drop out of the race in the midst of controversy. A top aide is ensnared in a domestic-violence scandal, the governor was finding dwindling support in his own party and his campaign bank account paled in size to those of his rivals.

Alluding to allegations that he personally intervened in a domestic violence case involving trusted aide David Johnson, Paterson insisted that he did not use his position improperly. "I have never abused my office. Not now, not ever," he said.

Entire Press Conference

Paterson became governor in 2008, when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal. Paterson's decision paves the way for Andrew Cuomo to make an unimpeded run for the Democratic nomination.

"The governor isn't feeling pushed out," said a person who talked with the governor about his decision and who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. "He certainly realizes it's very difficult to do a campaign and govern, and the focus now is on governing and the best interests of the state."

Paterson was the scion of a Harlem political power base that included his father, former state Secretary of State Basil Paterson; the late Percy Sutton, who was Manhattan borough president; Rep. Adam Clayton Powell; former Mayor David Dinkins; and embattled U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel.

Calls to step aside
On Wednesday, the most alarming call for Paterson to end his campaign came from state Sen. Bill Perkins, the Democrat in Paterson's old Harlem seat, who told the AP that Paterson's cabinet is "falling apart" and his campaign was crippled.

"The crisis we are suffering in this state and in the community is being distracted by these reports and very, very serious allegations," Perkins said. "What we are learning is unacceptable, and the viability of his candidacy is obviously crippling."

It has been widely expected — and among some Democrats, eagerly awaited — that the more popular Cuomo would run for governor and help prop up the state's reeling Democratic party. Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, has already built a campaign fund five times larger than Paterson and consistently outpolls Paterson among New York Democrats, who hold a 2-to-1 edge over Republicans statewide.

Paterson's campaign "was going nowhere very quickly and the numbers couldn't have been any more bleak for him before this," said Lee Miringoff of the Marist College poll. "Regardless of the legalities involved and this specific controversy, the odds of him taking the oath of office next January were very remote."

Paterson's decision lets Cuomo avoid an expensive and divisive primary, Miringoff said.

Image: David Johnson
Mike Groll / AP
David Johnson, an aide to Gov. David Paterson walks to his office at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., in March 2008.

For Republican candidate Rick Lazio, it means he can no longer try to split the Democrats and now must confront the far better funded and more popular Cuomo.

"The fundamental issue is not who is going to be nominated for governor, at this point the fundamental issue is governing," said Gerald Benjamin, a political scientist and former dean at SUNY New Paltz. "You have a lame duck governor, a governor that has been ineffective already."

Paterson has been weighed down by low approval numbers for months. His problems intensified in recent weeks with a series of critical articles in The New York Times. The last, published Thursday, raised questions about how Paterson and state police officials responded to a domestic abuse complaint lodged against Johnson.

Court papers said state police may have pressured the woman to not level criminal charges against Johnson. The newspaper also said Paterson spoke with the woman personally, although the governor's office said it was the woman who placed the call.

Renewed calls for Paterson's exit were made hours after the story's publication, including one from a longtime ally, Rep. Steve Israel. The Long Island Democrat said he felt compelled to tell his friend that he should not seek election to a full term.

Paterson, an affable, slightly built politician, was never really seen as gubernatorial in the eyes of legislators, lobbyists or voters. Until he recently insisted on more formality, his staff and even rank-and-file lawmakers referred to him as "David."

He had been forced to confront allegations of sexual affairs and drug use since the day he rose to office on March 17, 2008, some of which were true. He held an extraordinary news conference detailing past affairs he and his wife were involved in during an 18-month period when it appeared their marriage would end. He also recounted past drug use from his youth.

He said he made the extraordinary admissions so that he couldn't be compromised as governor and to avoid further fracturing of a government rocked by Spitzer's resignation.

"We in public service and in life have all these great plans," Paterson said in a press event in Queens in the fall. "There's an old Jewish expression, I can't quote it, that man plans and plans and plans and God laughs. Because things change in a moment ... 24 hours in politics is a lifetime."

Crowd Heckles Harold Ford Jr. On Gay Marriage Stance by Josh Robin - NY1

Possible U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Junior received an icy welcome Wednesday from The Stonewall Democratic Club, a leading gay democratic club over what he called misguided votes on same sex marriage.

NY1's Josh Robin filed the above report.

Paterson Won't Run In 2010 - The Huffington Post.

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Democratic officials are telling The Associated Press that New York Gov. David Paterson is not seeking election.

Democratic officials in Washington were informed of Paterson's plans early Friday. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because Paterson had not publicly disclosed his plans.

Paterson formally announced his campaign just days ago but faced mounting calls to drop out of the race in the midst of controversy. A top aide is ensnared in a domestic-violence scandal and the governor was finding dwindling support in his own party.

Paterson became governor in 2008, when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal. Paterson's decision paves the way for Andrew Cuomo to make an unimpeded run for the Democratic nomination.

Albany Proposes Closing Bayswater Point State Park, Cuts to Riverbank Park; 79 Other Sites Affected - New York News - Runnin' Scared

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As expected, the state has proposed closing or limiting services to a lot of state parks and historic sites is response to its "historic fiscal crisis."

The local damage is limited. Under the recommendations, the 12-acre Bayswater Point State Park in Jamaica Bay would close. And Riverbank State Park -- the one built on the sewage plant on the far west side of Harlem -- would reduce its opening hours, close its Olympic-size swimming pool, and eliminate its seniors classes and "community/cultural events." (We guess the rink is safe for now.)

But six parks on Long Island would close, and four others lose services. (Jones Beach would lose its west pool and its 4th of July fireworks!) It's even worse upstate; all told 81 parks, historic sites, or related facilities would be cut.

Just because they'd be closed doesn't mean you couldn't necessarily get into the park sites -- the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is reviewing the public access implications -- though under the circumstances you might get knifed or eaten by a bear.

The OPRHP is also considering lifting fees for such parks as remain open by $4 million.

Great News for Jamaica Bay: New York City Commits to Major Water Quality Improvements in Jamaica Bay - NRDC

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New York City Commits to Major Water Quality Improvements in Jamaica Bay

Mayor, City Vow to Make Sewage Plant Upgrades, Marsh Restoration in Response to Calls from Environmental Groups

Mayor Bloomberg, the City Department of Environmental Protection, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and four environmental groups today announced an agreement-in-principle to significantly improve the health of Jamaica Bay through major sewage treatment plant upgrades and investments in marsh restoration.

“Today marks a new beginning for Jamaica Bay -- an amazing recreational and economic resource for New Yorkers,” said Lawrence Levine, staff attorney for the NRDC. “The city has committed to address the biggest source of pollution that has plagued Jamaica Bay for decades. We look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Holloway to turn today’s historic commitments into reality.”

This announcement follows months of intensive negotiations among the city, state, and environmental groups represented by the Natural Resources Defense Council as legal counsel -- including Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, American Littoral Society and NY/NJ Baykeeper -- over alleged permit violations at four city sewage treatment plants, which currently discharge levels of nitrogen pollution into Jamaica Bay that are among the highest in the world.

Today’s announcement is a critical milestone in the effort to restore the Bay. The groups will continue over the next several months to work with the city and state to finalize the agreement, in a way that ensures long-term implementation of a 10-year water quality improvement plan and can help secure federal funding to back up the city’s efforts.

Specifically, the agreement-in-principle announced today includes commitments from the city to:

  • Upgrade four sewage treatment plants to drastically reduce nitrogen discharges to the bay, on a schedule running through 2020
  • Spend at least $15 million on marsh restoration over the next five years, which could leverage nearly $30 million in additional federal funding through the Corps of Engineers
  • Resolve a long-running dispute over the city’s Clean Water Act permits by agreeing to new, stricter permit terms that will lock in the treatment plant upgrades, and the resulting water quality improvements, into the future
  • Improve water quality monitoring in the bay, which may include using new equipment to provide continuous, real-time information on conditions in the bay.

Nitrogen discharges from the sewage treatment plants are the biggest cause of the severe water quality problems in Jamaica Bay. The plants discharge nearly 40,000 pounds of nitrogen into the bay daily, which cause harmful algae blooms that frequently render portions of the bay inhospitable to marine life and unusable for people. There is also mounting evidence that elevated nitrogen levels contribute to the rapid and accelerating loss of the bay’s signature marshlands, which provide not only invaluable wildlife habitat but also shoreline erosion control and a protective flood barrier to the neighborhoods ringing the bay.

Jamaica Bay is considered the crown jewel of the city’s ecological resources, with more than 25,000 acres of water, marsh, meadowland, beaches, dunes and forests in Brooklyn and Queens, all accessible by subway. It contains a federal wildlife refuge the size of 10 Central Parks, a portion of Gateway National Recreation Area, Bayswater State Park and nearly a dozen city parks. It provides a nursery for the region’s marine life, including valuable recreational fisheries like summer flounder, and a critical bird habitat area that is visited by nearly 20 percent of North America's bird species annually. It is also home to various endangered and threatened species -- from sea turtles to peregrine falcons. More than a half million New Yorkers live in the Jamaica Bay watershed/sewershed, and the bay is a popular fishing and boating area.

“We applaud Mayor Bloomberg and the new DEP commissioner Holloway for their good faith effort in finding solutions that work for Jamaica Bay,” said Deborah Mans, Baykeeper and Executive Director of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “Based on very productive negotiations with both the Mayor's office and the DEP Commissioner, we feel confident that we can finalize our preliminary agreement and secure lasting commitments to measures that will improve and save the precious waterways of New York City and its citizens, especially those affected by pollution in Jamaica Bay.”

“The Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers are pleased to support this agreement which will go a long way to assure the future health of the bay. Jamaica Bay is a unique environmental jewel and the largest natural resource of our city,” said Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers. “The heavy nitrogen loading from these four plants have long been identified as the primary causes contributing to low dissolved oxygen problems, harmful algae blooms and saltwater marsh loss. The upgrades to the wastewater treatment plants that this agreement will require will ensure significant nitrogen loading reductions are achieved at this critical juncture in the future of Jamaica Bay. In addition the funds allocated to the saltwater marsh restoration will help in recreating critical habitat that has been lost.”

“This agreement holds great promise to bring cleaner water to Jamaica Bay,” said Don Riepe, Director of American Littoral Society, Northeast Chapter. “We are encouraged by our discussions over the last several months and the work we’ve been able to do with the city towards cleaning up serious sources of pollution.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Top Paterson Official Resigns by Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim- City Room Blog -

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The cabinet official who supervises the State Police has resigned in the wake of reports of intervention by the State Police and Gov. David A. Paterson into a domestic-assault case against a senior Paterson aide.

The official, Denise E. O’Donnell, deputy secretary for public safety, issued a statement Thursday after inquiries from The New York Times.

“The fact that the governor and members of the State Police have acknowledged direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the governor’s staff is a very serious matter,” she wrote. “These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent.”

The resignation, at 2 p.m., came on a day when New York’s political establishment reeled at the news of Mr. Paterson’s involvement, with some of the beleaguered governor’s few remaining allies publicly suggesting that he should end his campaign for election.

Ms. O’Donnell wrote that she found the breach “particularly distressing” in an administration “that prides itself on its record of combating domestic violence.

“The behavior alleged here is the antithesis of what many of us have spent our entire careers working to build,” she added, “a legal system that protects victims of domestic violence and brings offenders to justice.”

Ms. O’Donnell wrote that the State Police superintendent, Harry J. Corbitt, had misled her last month about the involvement of the State Police in the case, in which the senior Paterson aide, David W. Johnson, was accused of hitting his companion:

Superintendent Corbitt told me the staff member had an argument with his girlfriend, that a domestic incident report had been filed, but that there was no arrest and that the matter was being handled as a local police matter by the New York Police Department.

My immediate concern was what role the State Police would take in the investigation and I was assured by Superintendent Corbitt that the State Police were not involved.

It was only last night when I learned from press reports the contrary details, including the involvement of the State Police.

For these reasons, I am resigning my position as commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services and Deputy Secretary of Public Safety effective today.

Though Mr. Paterson has asked Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, his likely opponent in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, to investigate the matter, many Democratic officials around the state said on Thursday, even before Ms. O’Donnell’s resignation, that there was little the governor could do to restore confidence in his ability to lead.

While no prominent Democrats have yet called on Mr. Paterson to resign, sentiment appears to be growing rapidly for him to suspend his campaign, regardless of the outcome of Mr. Cuomo’s inquiry.

“I think it’s become apparent that he should not seek re-election and should announce it soon,” said Representative Steve Israel of Long Island, who called Mr. Paterson in the morning to urge him not to run. “There’s a case to be made that he can leave Albany with his head held high, having focused exclusively on the crises that confront the state, rather than facing the distraction of a tough campaign.”

Mr. Israel is a longtime friend of Mr. Paterson’s who was among the governor’s finalists last year to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate seat.

Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic assemblyman from central Brooklyn, said he believed Mr. Paterson should suspend his campaign at least until Mr. Cuomo had finished his inquiry. But Mr. Jeffries also suggested that the results of Mr. Cuomo’s investigation might not matter, politically speaking.

“There is a growing sentiment, even among African-American elected officials, that this latest incident is not just the beginning of the end, but perhaps may be the end,” Mr. Jeffries said. “There’s no other evidence that we need to see. This is not going to work.”

Even some of the governor’s closest allies — including black elected officials and Democratic activists from New York City — believe there is little he can do to salvage his political career.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, one of Mr. Paterson’s strongest allies, said he had called a meeting of black elected officials for Saturday, the day before Mr. Paterson is scheduled to hold a campaign rally.

Mr. Sharpton said that John L. Sampson, the Senate Democratic leader; Senator Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat; and Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat, would be among those in attendance.

“We’re going to talk about the obvious fallout from this,” Mr. Sharpton said.

Mr. Paterson was not invited to the meeting, Mr. Sharpton said. The minister, whose influence has been widely viewed as one of Mr. Paterson’s few remaining buffers against Mr. Cuomo, would not say what he thought the governor should do next, commenting that he did not want to pre-empt Saturday’s meeting.

Another ally of the governor, Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns, paused and sighed heavily when asked to suggest a course of action for Mr. Paterson.

“I don’t know,” said Mr. Towns, a former chairman of the Legislature’s caucus of minority lawmakers. “I don’t know.”

Assemblyman Carl E. Heastie, who is also the chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party, refused to say whether he still supported the governor or whether Mr. Paterson should step aside.

“No comment, no comment, no comment,” was all Mr. Heastie would say.

“This may be the last straw,” said one person who is close to the governor, but who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. “If the governor played any role at all in this scandal, he won’t survive.”

Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, a prominent upstate Democratic official and chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party, said that the facts of Mr. Paterson’s communication with the woman who said she had been assaulted by Mr. Johnson needed to be aired in “days, not weeks and months.”

“If there’s any impropriety, I think it raises serious questions about whether he can continue to serve,” Mr. Morelle said of the governor.

Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.

Notice: Parent-Teacher Conferences Planned for Today Will Be Rescheduled Due to Snow Conditions

Parent-teacher conferences at intermediate and junior high schools planned for today will be rescheduled due to snow conditions. After-school and PSAL programs will take place as planned.

While we continue to monitor the weather, all indications are that schools will be open tomorrow. If conditions become worse than expected and schools do have to be closed, we will inform parents immediately.

Contact: Chancellor’s Press Office (212) 374-5141

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wilderness in the City by Eleanor - Quirky NYC

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A small lake, a natural wetlands, a forest, and dozens of species of birds: this is not the typical New York that people picture. But it’s exactly what the Ridgewood Reservoir in Queens offers.

The reservoir water that remains is the remnant of what was once three individual basins used for drinking water supplies in 19th-century Brooklyn and Queens.

Today, the small lake is surrounded by a forest and natural wetlands that evolved naturally and is unique to New York in many ways. Dozens of species of birds make their home here that can’t be found anywhere else in the city, for example.

A paved walking path circles around the forest and reservoir, though unfortunately much of the land inside that path is fenced off from the public. Local officials and activists are currently locked in a battle over the reservoir’s future. Mayor Bloomberg and city parks officials want to drain the basin and develop the land into more active recreational facilities, including baseball fields, while many residents say the reservoir and its trails are a welcome respite from city life.

For now, the Ridgewood Reservoir, officially part of the larger Highland Park, is still welcoming visitors. Check out this hidden gem for birdwatching, peaceful hiking, and beautiful forest and fields in the heart of a bustling city!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Addabbo, Pheffer, Queens Community Bd 10 Statement: Why We Must Work to Move Forward on Aqueduct Project

NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., joined by NYS Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer and Queens Community Board 10 Chairperson Betty Braton, today released the following statement on the controversy over the selection of AEG by Governor David A. Paterson as the winning bidder for the Aqueduct racino project:

New York State approved VLT gambling for Aqueduct Racetrack eight years ago. Now, two governors later, VLTs are still not up and running at Aqueduct, a community is in a frustrated limbo, and our cash-strapped state is still not realizing much-needed income.

After seven years of false starts and much delay, a decision was made in October 2008 to select a VLT franchisee, which did not result in a signed memorandum of understanding between the state and the company selected. The inability of the company to deliver on its financial commitment to the state was cited as the cause.

The process used in that selection was the same used this year. There was controversy then, as there is now, about the use of that previous process. There was controversy then about the ability of the entity selected to deliver. That selection was met in the local community with much skepticism. Rumors of “the political fix” ran rampant in the local area. Yet no call for a special investigation or media attack was evident then when the selection took place a couple of years ago.

Now fast forward to the recent selection of AEG to begin work at Aqueduct. The media-driven firestorm now calling for details, criteria used, and investigations is, to some, unfortunate and very late.

“The process created years ago to select a VLT operator for Aqueduct is a flawed one,” said NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “Its lack of transparency and a set of objective criteria are fair game for criticism. But what is not fair game is to scrap the entire project at this point.”

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer stated,”It is imperative that New York State moves expeditiously to finalize the contract that establishes the racino at Aqueduct Racetrack. It is a long-awaited project that will bring both construction and permanent, full-time jobs to our community. We welcome this project as an economic engine that is vital to the future of our local economy.”

Also not fair game is the attack on AEG now, at the end of this much-delayed process. This current process has been going on for over a year. There has been ample time for all the calls for documents from all bidders to be released and calls for scrutiny of all investors in each of the bids, over the course of the past year. Further delays now in moving this project forward will hamper efforts to ease the state’s financial crisis, create further problems for the future of horseracing in the state and at Aqueduct, and lose the opportunity of witnessing thousands of quality jobs open up in the area.

“The potential jobs this racino project offers are needed now, not later. The potential economic development in southern Queens is needed now, not later. The state has to deal with its budget now, not later,” said Addabbo. The Senator also mentioned that he has constantly criticized the selection process and the Governor’s apparent decision-making delays. Addabbo stated that many residents in the area have been calling for a decision to be made on Aqueduct and for this project to move forward. According to the Senator, a number of constituents were unaware of the fact that AEG has been part of the selection process for over a year and has complied with all previous requests for financial information and business dealings, as supplied by the other bidders that were not selected.

Aqueduct Racetrack is situated wholly within Queens Community Board 10. “We’ve roundly criticized the process; it’s not the best way to make this kind of a decision, but it’s time for this project to move forward without any further delay,” said Betty Braton, Community Board 10 Chairperson. “Our criteria in looking at the information provided to us by all the bidders could be summed up by five questions: Can they build it? Can they run it? Will this proposal mesh well with our community? Will the company be open to working with us to minimize any negative impacts? And will the state realize a big pot of money that will help ease the burden on NY taxpayers? The AEG selection meets our criteria and we can work with them.”

As this process to select a VLT franchisee for Aqueduct has moved forward, Addabbo, Pheffer and Community Board 10 have been in agreement that while none of the bids were perfect, some, like the one submitted by AEG, were better than others. They have also been in agreement that they would be able to work with whatever bidder was selected to make the project work for the local community.

They all agree that AEG has been open with them as to its plans and they believe the AEG proposal can result in a successful project with much-needed employment opportunities for local residents. Lastly, they all agree that AEG’s proposal can result in a facility that impacts the community positively. The criteria imposed on the decision by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are reasonable and prudent. If they are met by AEG, this project must move forward without further delay.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Volunteers Ring Alarm: Cash-Strapped Community Ambulance Corps to Charge Insurance by Lisa L. Colangelo - NYDaily News

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Helping their neighbors isn't just a hobby for sisters Kathy Sexton-Dalbey and Kelly Sexton of the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

It's a family tradition.

Their father, Timothy, helped start the corps 45 years ago. It's where he met their mom, Patricia.

That history gives them even more reason to keep the struggling volunteer ambulance service afloat.

A recent drop in donations, government grants and volunteers has hobbled the once-thriving group.

"The financial times have hit everyone hard," said Sexton-Dalbey," an emergency medical technician who is chief operating officer of the corps.

For the first time, they will be charging patients' insurance carriers for their service.

People who do not have insurance will not be charged. And no one will be asked to pay any money out of pocket.

"None of us get paid, and we never charged," she said. "But now we have to charge against the insurance to get some kind of payment."

She estimates it costs a minimum of $65,000 a year just to keep the service running.

The group has about 35 active members. That's down from a high of 135 more than a decade ago.

Members of the community pulled together recently to hold a pasta dinner benefit.

The corps has a page on Facebook and is looking into new ways to raise money. Their pals at the cash-strapped Woodhaven Residents' Block Association recently contributed $500 to help out.

Block Association President Ed Wendell has seen firsthand how the volunteer ambulance corps helps the neighborhood.

"My wife's mom needed a transfer from one hospital to another," said Wendell. "A private ambulance would have charged hundreds of dollars, which she couldn't afford. The corps did it for free."

Sexton-Dalbey said the corps also is a good training ground for people interested in the medical field.

"We handle everything from sick calls to jumpers on the J train to transports," she said. "If we had the staff, we would be here 2-4/7."

For information about the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, call (718) 296-7918.

Queens Bar Owner Gunned Down Two 'Good Friends' in Drug Deal, Prosecutors Say by Kevin Deutsch and John Lauinge - NY Daily News

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Nicholas Kiriakakis is jailed on $3 million bail for the execution-style slaying of two Queens pals.

A Queens bar owner facing a double murder rap in New Jersey turned his gun in cold blood on two "good friends" over a drug deal, prosecutors said.

Nicholas Kiriakakis, 25, is jailed on $3 million bail for the execution-style slaying of Queens pals Jonathan Beneduce, 28, and Michael Mirasola, 27.

A Teaneck, N.J., woman found Beneduce's and Mirasola's bullet-riddled bodies inside a still-running Ford Explorer outside her home early Thursday morning.

"We believe this is tied to a drug transaction," Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said, referring to the dead men as "good friends" of Kiriakakis.

NYPD cops nabbed Kiriakakis on Saturday and searched his Queens home and his bar on Bell Blvd. in Bayside.

They found a stun gun and illegal prescription drugs, but it was unclear whether the murder weapon was recovered.

Kiriakakis' neighbors in Auburndale, Queens, said animal-care authorities visited his home several times to check on his two German shepherds.

"He wasn't well-liked on the block," said Janine Menoutis, 31. "He rubbed people the wrong way."

Kiriakakis' bar, Pearl Restaurant and Lounge, had a reputation as a drug-friendly hangout, local merchants and bargoers said.

"All the neighborhood cokeheads go there," said a bartender at neighboring Cue Bar.

"Nick's a good guy and he runs a respected establishment," countered a bar worker.

Site in Limbo as Bidder Loses Out by Howard Koplowitz -

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The former home of the Ozone Park Animal Clinic at 107-30 Rockaway Blvd was purchased by SL Green and is steps away from the entrance to Aqueduct Race Track. Photo by Christina Santucci

When Aqueduct video lottery terminal contract bidder SL Green made a presentation to the Queens Chamber of Commerce in September, it pointed to the purchase of property near the Ozone Park track as evidence of its commitment to the community.

Even with the selection of Aqueduct Entertainment Group as the winner of the VLT contract, SL Green said it has no plans to sell off the property, which is a stone’s throw away from Aqueduct.

Rick Matthews, an SL Green spokesman, said SL Green purchased a site at 107-30 Rockaway Blvd., but the company has not decided what it plans to develop at the location, which was formerly the Ozone Park Animal Clinic.

“There are several possible uses for it,” Matthews said.

With a multibillion-dollar redevelopment project planned for Aqueduct, Matthews said SL Green believes the property should increase in value.

SL Green partnered with Hard Rock Entertainment to submit a bid for the VLT contract, but lost out on the contract last month to AEG.

AEG has come under scrutiny for its ties to the Rev. Floyd Flake, the influential southeast Queens minister and an AEG investor.

SL Green’s partnership with Hard Rock would have included a rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia bar and the possibility of live musical acts, which would perform at Aqueduct’s grandstand.

— Howard Koplowitz


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two Queens Men Sitting in SUV Slain Execution-Style in New Jersey by Lisa L. Colangelo,Michael J. Feeney and John Lauinger - NY Daily News

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New Jersey police investigate a double homicide Thursday in Teaneck where two Queens men were shot in a possible hit while they sat in their SUV. Zehawi/Bergen Record

Two Queens men were executed inside an SUV in New Jersey on Wednesday night - and the bullet-riddled vehicle's engine was still running when the bodies were found Thursday, authorities said.

Anthonia Njoku of Teaneck, N.J., was leaving for work around 7 a.m. when she spotted a black Ford Explorer with New York plates parked outside her home on Oakdene Ave., a quiet block near Interstate 95.

"She came close enough to see that the guy [in the passenger seat] was shot," said Njoku's daughter, Amaka, 27. "She couldn't believe it. She's terrified."

The slumped-over driver was Jonathan Beneduce, 28, of Howard Beach. Slain in the passenger seat was Michael Mirasola, 27, of Ozone Park. Both had been shot multiple times, authorities said.

The bloody hit was straight out of a Hollywood shoot-'em-up flick: The passenger-side front door was wide open, and blood was splattered on a nearby snowbank. There were bullet holes in the passenger-side front window and in the windshield, Amaka Njoku said.

Beneduce and Mirasola were both unemployed and lived with their parents, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli confirmed in a statement that shed no light on a possible motive for the gruesome slaying.

The Explorer - registered to Beneduce - was towed away yesterday with the corpses still inside.

An unmarked police car with New Jersey plates showed up at Beneduce's home yesterday, but a resident declined to comment.

Investigators were "exploring every angle," a law enforcement source said, including the possibility of a Mafia-related rubout, which the source thought was unlikely.

Man Awaits Arraignment In Connection With Wife's Death -

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A husband was awaiting arraignment late Friday in connection with the death of his wife, whose dismembered body parts were found inside a suitcase in a Queens park.

Edwin Fuentes of Newark is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

The Queens district attorney said Fuentes killed Reina De Los Santos Reyes, seen above, in their Woodhaven apartment in June 2007 and then dismembered her body.

Nearly a year later, a group of teenagers walking in Forest Park found a suitcase containing some of the woman's remains.

Police say Fuentes told them he used to be a butcher.

If convicted, Fuentes faces 25 years to life in prison.

How Ford Got Gilly in Gear: Potential Rival has Made Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Tougher, Say Experts by David Saltonstall - NY Daily News

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, with Council member Robert Jackson, at left, and Comptroller John Liu, right, runs in the New York Runners' Run for Haiti in Central Park Saturday. Hagen for News

Harold Ford's maybe-I-will, maybe-I-won't stance on jumping into the Senate race has been a boon for one person - his likely opponent, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, experts say.

Consider the dynamic: two months ago, Gillibrand was the little-known Senate appointee whose name many voters couldn't even pronounce, much less find in a newspaper.

If she got press at all, it was because President Obama or Sen. Chuck Schumer had arm-twisted yet another potential Democratic primary challenger into staying out.

Then came Ford, 39, a telegenic former congressman from Tennessee who cast a giant spotlight on the race - and at the same time forced Gillibrand to raise her political game.

"She has become better at the work of being a candidate," observed Hunter College Prof. Ken Sherrill. "And that wouldn't have happened if she hadn't faced a challenge."

Ford has also raised his own profile, going from a little-known Tennessee pol to New York's latest Democrat to watch. He could quit the race tomorrow, many say, and still claim a PR success.

"It just puts his name out there for future elections, whether in New York or elsewhere," said Columbia University Prof. Robert Shapiro.

But it's really Gillibrand - still trying to shake perceptions that she's Schumer's sidekick, and certainly vulnerable to anti-incumbent fervor - who has used the last six weeks to the greatest advantage, experts say.

Since Ford launched his quasi-campaign in early January, she has nailed down coveted endorsements from Democratic county committees in the Bronx and Manhattan, as well as leaders like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former mayoral contender Bill Thompson.

She successfully cornered President Obama on 9/11 health issues, and her push for a Senate hearing on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has won her accolades among gays and their allies.

At the same time, she has put up her dukes - hitting back at Ford every time he jabs, and in the process undercutting her image as a political weakling.

"A fighter becomes better the more sparring they do," said Baruch College political professor Doug Muzzio. "She has become much sharper in the ring."

None of this would have happened, or at least gained this much attention, if Ford hadn't made the race a contest.

"There has been a spotlight on the race, and she is coming off as tougher than expected," said consultant George Arzt. "So from that perspective it is good for her."

It remains unclear whether Ford, a vice chairman at Merrill Lynch, will get into the race or not; he has said he expects to make a decision within the next week or so. But no matter what he decides, some say Gillibrand has already come out ahead.

"If she faced a challenge from Steve Israel or Carolyn Maloney or Scott Stringer," Sherrill said, referring to veteran New York pols dissuaded from running, "they may well be having her for breakfast."

But Gillibrand drew Ford, who has made defending Wall Street banks from further taxation a big campaign theme - a curious pitch to liberal Democratic primary voters.

Cracked Sherrill: "He might as well come out in support of landlords."

Gillibrand, MoveOn 'Hero' by Elizabeth Benjamin - NY Daily News

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was once a proud member of the Blue Dog Democrats, is now a darling of the progressive set. sent an e-mail to supporters today touting Gillibrand as a "hero of the public option," and urging them to "call her local office hearest you and tell her that you really appreciate her work and are counting on her to keep fighting."

"As next week's health care summit approaches, a group of progressive senators - led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - are standing up and fighting to get a public option in the final health care bill," the message reads.

"Senator Gillibrand has taken the lead in pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to give the public option an up-or-down vote. The letter that she drafted with Senators Bennet, Merkley, and Brown already has 18 signatures and is really picking up momentum."

"When a senator stands up for progressive priorities, it's really important that she hears from her constituents. In just the last few months, Senator Gillibrand has taken courageous stands on the public option and on saving the Clean Air Act."

MoveOn is the sort of organization that a Democratic senator who might be facing a primary challenge from a former Tennessee congressman would really like to have in her corner - particularly since the sort of voter who tends to come out on primary day trends to the left.

The group has supported Gillibrand in the past, which became a campaign issue for her Republican opponents.

Sen. Chuck Schumer has also signed on the public option letter.

Will Akio Toyoda Bow to Ed Towns' Request? by Reid Pillifant | The New York Observer

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This morning, after a New York Times story indicated that Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda might answer a formal invitation to appear before Congress--and with the ranking Republican member calling for such an invitation--House Oversight Committee chairman Ed Towns formally invited Mr. Toyoda.

"There appears to be growing public confusion regarding which vehicles may be affected and how people should respond," Mr. Towns wrote. "In short, the public is unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it."

It's an unenviable position for almost any corporate bigwig. "He's not going to know the answers to the satisfaction of members of Congress," a former Ford p.r. person told The Times, suggesting Mr. Toyoda bring a coterie of company officials to help him.

The invitation doesn't legally compel Mr. Toyoda to attend, but should he decline, the committee could then subpoena him.

"It's 3 a.m. in Japan and he just got it, basically a few hours ago," said Cindy Knight, a spokesperson for Toyota. "We're aware of the invitation and, due to the time zone differences, we haven't yet received a response from Japan but we're hoping for one in a few hours."

Of course, the real question is how low he might go. Will Mr. Toyoda go with his usual 40-degree bow? Or the more contrite, 60-degree bow he deployed at a press conference last week? Or will the imposing Mr. Towns compel something even more chastened and painful?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Addabbo Trashes LIC Rail Link for City Waste Disposal by Jeremy Walsh -

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State Sen. Joseph Addabbo speaks to constituents at Maspeth Town Hall last week. Photo by Jeremy Walsh

Putting a rail siding on the property of a waste transfer station in Long Island City is out, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said at a meeting in Maspeth Town Hall last week.

Speaking to about a dozen Maspeth residents last Thursday, Addabbo said the angle of the Waste Management station at 38-22 Review Ave. to the Long Island Rail Road tracks that would have to serve a rail siding was not suitable.

Addabbo said he wanted to speak to Waste Management, which is planning to expand the station as part of the city’s garbage strategy, about using barges to transport the waste. The company’s initial proposal called for solid waste to be transferred at the location from city trucks into sealed containers, which would then be taken by tractor-trailer a mile down the road to the Maspeth Rail Yard, where they would be loaded onto trains headed out of the city.

Maspeth and Middle Village residents are furious about the anticipated increase in truck traffic that the project would bring to their surface streets.

The expansion would increase the facility’s 1,000-ton capacity by 30 percent, bringing 25 more city garbage trucks to the location along Review Avenue and adding about 35 more tractor-trailers heading down the road to Maspeth, according to Waste Management.

Addabbo was also skeptical about the storm of criticism surrounding Paterson’s choice of Aqueduct Entertainment Group to install and maintain video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Race Track.

“AEG on its own is a good entity,” he said. “Nobody ever spoke about [the Rev.] Floyd Flake and Daryl Greene and how politically connected they were. It was only political when the governor selected it.”

Flake is the head of the Allen AME church and one of the most influential figures in southeast Queens. Greene is a minor stakeholder in AEG who was convicted of fraud 10 years ago.

He aired his frustrations, however, with delays in Albany over awarding the contract, which he said could have been done last year.

“Why did Steve Wynn back out? Because of the unprofessionalism of the process,” he said, referring to the Las Vegas casino magnate who once expressed interest in the site.

Addabbo also warned that if the contract is not agreed upon soon, the state may not receive the $300 million in fees the Aqueduct vendor is supposed to provide until the 2011 fiscal year, adding to the state’s budget woes.

Judge Denies Monserrate’s Bid to Stay in Senate by Jeremy Peters - City Room Blog -

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Former State Senator Hiram Monserrate in front of the courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday. David Goldman for the New York Times

A federal judge on Friday denied [pdf] former State Senator Hiram Monserrate’s petition to block his expulsion and halt the special election called for next month to select his replacement.

Mr. Monserrate’s lawyers are expected to immediately appeal the ruling, which was issued by Judge William H. Pauley of Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Mr. Monserrate, who earlier this month became the first state legislator removed from office in nearly a century, argued that the Senate had no power to expel him and that by doing so, it violated his due process and the rights of the voters who elected him.

But during oral arguments in the case on Thursday, Judge Pauley seemed skeptical of Mr. Monserrate’s claims.

Searching For Harold Ford by Jonathan Chait - NPR The New Republic:

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Potential U.S. senatorial candidate for New York, Harold Ford Jr., leaves a meeting at the offices of NARAL Pro-Choice February 2, 2010 in New York City. Ford visited the NARAL offices a day after appearing on the Colbert Report, where he was questioned about perceived inconsistencies in his views. David Goldman/Getty Images

"Southern voters are interested in solutions," said Harold Ford Jr. in 2003. "They can spot a fake." Perhaps this explains Ford's subsequent decision to decamp from the South in search of a more gullible electorate.

Having lost a 2006 Senate race in Tennessee, Ford is now all but officially running in New York. His efforts to date offer a fascinating character study. All politicians, to varying degrees, have pliable beliefs that must bend and twist to mesh with political surroundings that change over time. Ford's distinguishing trait is that his principles are not merely pliable but completely liquid — they have no form of their own, taking the shape of whatever surrounds them.

Ford comes from a family that seems to regard politics as a lucrative profession. His father, a longtime member of Congress, was indicted (but acquitted) of bank fraud. One uncle was indicted for corruption, and another was convicted of insurance fraud. Harold Jr., groomed at elite institutions like St. Albans in Washington, always trod a more respectable path. After inheriting his father's House seat in 1996, Ford cultivated a centrist profile to keep himself viable for statewide (or national) office. He endorsed constitutional amendments requiring an annual balanced budget, outlawing gay marriage and flag burning, and permitting organized classroom prayer in public schools. Shrewdly claiming a seat on the capital markets subcommittee of the Financial Services Committee, he raised copious sums from Wall Street executives, who, in turn, he favored by endorsing tax breaks for capital gains. Ford attracted a series of mostly favorable profiles in the national press, highlighting his charisma and centrist stands as a model for a new generation of Democrats. "Rigid ideology makes it easier to resist good ideas," he declared.

Ford's career, alas, did not proceed quite as hoped. Even admirers regarded him as "undisciplined and immature," as a friendly Democratic strategist told The New Republic in 2002. Much of Ford's reputation centered around his personal life. (He's "known on Capitol Hill for robust socializing," as The Washington Post delicately put it.) Ford ran for minority leader, only to be crushed by Nancy Pelosi, by a vote of 177-29. To the extent that he now receives any sympathy from the base of his party, it is because he was the subject, during his 2006 Senate run, of a vicious ad featuring a comely blond saying "Harold — call me."

Ford's transition to a new political milieu has entailed some awkwardness. Only a few years ago, he was filming ads in church, posing in front of a Confederate flag, and touting his "Tennessee values." He now seems to regard his former constituents as racist hillbillies. "There was so much bad racial stuff out of Tennessee on Obama," he tells Maureen Dowd. "I think my marriage is more accepted here than it would be in Tennessee."

Ford now embraces gun control and gay marriage, the latter of which, until recently, he wanted to ban via constitutional amendment. After calling for sealing the border and attacking President Bush from the right on immigration in 2006, he now takes a liberal stance. What about the border fence he favored? "Even if we had a fence now, we are not going to stop it," he told The New York Times, not explaining why he had supported such a futile gesture in the first place.

Ford had so much difficulty explaining his intellectual evolution that, at one point, he gave an interview to the Daily News only, as the paper reported, "under the condition that the questions be limited to his rationale for running, and not issues." (Southern voters may be interested in solutions, but, apparently, Northern voters aren't.) None of this is to say, however, that Ford's prospective candidacy lacks ideological content. He is running as the voice of Wall Street. The financial industry deeply resents the Obama administration and congressional Democrats who, after bailing them out to prevent a broader economic collapse, are attempting to impose regulations to prevent such a recurrence and demanding that the large banks pay back a portion of their subsidy. Casting about for a champion, Wall Street's eyes turned to Ford.

The Tennessee expatriate turned out to be the perfect man for the job. He already had a foothold in the city through his financial services committee connections, a $1.8 million East Hampton vacation home his father had purchased in 2003, and a lucrative part-time job at Merrill Lynch. Ford breakfasts regularly at the Regency and relaxes at upper-class redoubts like the Waverly Inn. "Ford started hearing about [the backlash] at cocktail parties," reports Politico.

In a New York Times interview, Ford attempted to put a slightly more populist sheen on his candidacy:

"[T]he response I have gotten is overwhelming, from different categories, the spectrum of political leaders, people involved in politics, people representing different social and income classes in the city, be it the cabdriver on the way down here, who had positive things to say, and wanted to take a picture with me before I got out of the taxi, to people who are business leaders and leaders in the entertainment industry and media industry based here."

Truly, this is a trans-class coalition, ranging from rich businessmen to rich entertainment businessmen to rich media businessmen to cabdrivers — who, like all members of tip-based professions, are known for their frank assessments of their customers.

Ford has come out against the current health care legislation and in favor of "a huge tax-cut bill for business people, not only in New York but across the country." Ford has chosen to label himself an "independent voice," independence being defined as total subservience to Wall Street. (Ford promises, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, "I would support no bill that does harm to New York's financial industry.")

Ford's candidacy is an epiphenomenon of Wall Street's retreat into a fantasy world. In this alternate reality, the titans of finance are innocent victims of a freakish accident, the Democrats' struggles result from their hostility to these victims, and the people are clamoring for a leader who will openly cater to their demands. The notion that Democratic primary voters in New York will embrace Ford may be more fantastical than the wildest investment scheme that predated the crash.

Harold — don't call me. We'll call you.

Statement from the Office of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on the NYS Senate's Expulsion of Hiram Monserrate...

“We are gratified that the Court has confirmed our position that the Senate had the authority to expel Mr. Monserrate. The time for changing the culture of Albany is long past due. Today's ruling is a step in that direction. The Office of the Attorney General will continue to represent the Senate in this matter.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani's Ex-Head of New York Police, Gets 4 Years in Prison by Sam Dolnick-

Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York police commissioner who rose to national prominence, was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.

Under the terms of a plea agreement reached in November on the eve of his trial, the prosecution and the defense recommended that Judge Stephen C. Robinson sentence Mr. Kerik to 27 to 33 months in prison. But the judge departed from the sentencing recommendations, giving Mr. Kerik a longer sentence.

“I think it’s fair to say that with great power comes great responsibility and great consequences,” Judge Robinson said. “I think the damage caused by Mr. Kerik is in some ways immeasurable.”

The sentencing was the end of a legal saga in which federal prosecutors denounced Mr. Kerik, a former detective who rose to the upper echelons of power, as a corrupt official who sought to trade his authority for lavish benefits.

Mr. Kerik, looking thin and clean-shaven as he entered the courtroom in United States District Court here, spoke briefly.

“ I make no excuses,” he said. “I take full responsibility for the grave mistakes I’ve made. Believe me when I say I have learned from this and I have become and will continue to become a better person.

“I know I must be punished,” he continued. “I only ask that you allow me to return to my wife and two little girls as soon as possible.”

As the judge delivered the sentence, Mr. Kerik sat impassionately at the defense table, flanked by his lawyers. Behind him, his supporters — including Geraldo Rivera and Steven McDonald, a former New York City police officer who was paralyzed from the neck down in 1986 — filled the gallery.

Mr. Kerik will begin serving his sentence on May 17. Prosecutors had requested that Mr. Kerik be sent to prison immediately, but Judge Robinson allowed him to surrender later to get his affairs in order in light of the longer sentence. Mr. Kerik has awaited sentencing under strict house arrest at his home in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

The sentence follows a fall from a rarefied perch where he wielded power with a signature mix of brash confidence and tough-guy charm.

He was a close ally of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, whom he served as a bodyguard and driver. Mr. Giuliani then tapped him for a senior position in the Correction Department, and he went on to become the agency’s commissioner. As testament to his clout, Mr. Kerik had a jail named after him in downtown Manhattan. (The name has since been changed.)

Mr. Kerik later served as police commissioner, and his performance during after 9/11 attacks turned him into a national figure, earning him the respect of President George W. Bush, who nominated him to lead the Department of Homeland Security. That bid quickly collapsed in scandal, marking the beginning of the end of Mr. Kerik’s career.

The case against Mr. Kerik centered on charges that a New Jersey construction company, the Interstate Industrial Corporation, which was suspected of ties to organized crime, had paid for renovations at Mr. Kerik’s home in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Prosecutors said company officials had hoped Mr. Kerik would help them obtain a city license.

In addition to pleading guilty to two counts of tax fraud and one count of making a false statement on a loan application, Mr. Kerik also pleaded guilty to five counts of making false statements to the federal government while being vetted for senior posts.

Prosecutors had called for Judge Robinson to make an example out of Mr. Kerik, and to punish him for his “egotism and hubris.”

Mr. Kerik’s lawyer, Michael F. Bachner, had asked the judge for leniency, citing his years of public service, and the dozens of letters of support written by family members, former colleagues in the Police Department, and even strangers who said they admired Mr. Kerik’s bravery.

After the sentencing, Mr. Kerik paused outside the courthouse, where he read a statement before being driven off in a black sport utility vehicle.

“I’d like to apologize to the American people for the mistakes I’ve made and for which I have just accepted responsibility,” he said. “As history is written, I can only hope that I will be judged for the 30 years of service I have given to this country and the city of New York. It has not and will not diminish my love for this country.”

When asked if Mr. Kerik intended to appeal the sentence, his lawyer said, “No comment.”