Archive for August 2010

Paladino is NY GOP’s worst nightmare – By George J. Marlin

August 28, 2010

The following appears in the August 27-September 2 issue of the Long Island Business News:

On Sept. 14 – primary day – the candidate New York Republicans choose as their gubernatorial standard-bearer will determine whether their party will remain politically competitive or be reduced to permanent minority status.

Yes, if former Congressman Rick Lazio loses to self-proclaimed Tea Party rival, Carl Paladino, the November outcome may be worse then the GOP’s 1990 disaster when their candidate for governor, Pierre Rinfret, garnered only 23 percent of the total vote.

Who, you ask, was Pierre Rinfret? Here’s a little history: In May 1990, members of a desperate GOP gubernatorial search committee frantically combed their address books and under “R” came across the name of economic consultant Pierre Rinfret. They telephoned him and after a brief conversation, Rinfret agreed to be the candidate against two-term Gov. Mario Cuomo.

It quickly became apparent that Rinfret was not ready for prime time and had no knowledge of state issues.

And he was the loosest of loose cannons. To wit:

• He called incumbent Republican Comptroller Ned Regan an idiot and endorsed the opponent, Democrat-Liberal Carol Bellamy.

• He called the man who discovered him, Sen. Roy Goodman, “one of the most destructive people in this state.”

• He called Secretary of HUD Jack Kemp a traitor to the party and “a lackey” for Cuomo.

• He told a female reporter to come to his inauguration and to leave her husband home.

• He referred to African-Americans who live in Harlem as “those people” and insisted they prefer to live outdoors in the streets.

Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak said Rinfret “has turned out to be a worse candidate than even his critics feared.” Nassau County’s then comptroller, Republican Peter King, referred to Rinfret as “the brainless wonder.” Republican insiders called him a “bozo,” a “buffoon” and other things unprintable.

On Election Day, Nov. 6, 1990, the political world was shocked by the results: While Cuomo coasted to victory with 53 percent, Rinfret received 865,000 votes (23 percent) to Conservative Party candidate Herb London’s 827,000 (22 percent). The Conservative Party had come within 38,000 votes of outpolling the Republicans. Rinfret received the lowest vote percentage of any GOP candidate in the 20th century.

Paladino has the makings of another Rinfret. In television and print interviews, he has revealed he knows little about the workings of state government or its fiscal problems. Moreover, he is gaffe-prone. Even his rehearsed sound bites come across as puerile bromides.

Republican political consultant Susan Del Percio said Paladino “tends to be inflicted with foot-and-mouth disease quite often…” For instance, Paladino said in March that the new federal health care law would kill more Americans than the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It has also been revealed that he has forwarded to friends and admirers insensitive, racist, pornographic and stupid e-mails.

If Paladino wins the GOP nod in September expect scads of responsible Republicans to jump ship in November and vote for Lazio on the Conservative Party line. And expect the Andrew Cuomo juggernaut to ferociously expose Paladino’s flaws.

With New York’s political demographic becoming darker blue, thanks to the exodus of about 600,000 economically challenged upstaters since 2000, it is possible that Paladino would garner no more than 18 percent of the vote statewide, with Lazio snagging up to 16 percent. Such an outcome would be disastrous for the entire GOP ticket. They would fail to retake the state Senate which would mean Democrats would have sole power to recut district lines of both houses of the Legislature.

Carl Paladino is the GOP’s worst nightmare. One can only hope the rank and file will not be swayed by his money or his bumper sticker formulas to fix New York.

Paul Johnson at 82 – By George J. Marlin

August 28, 2010

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on August 25, 2010.

The Richie Kessel NYPA Watch, August 22, 2010 – By George J. Marlin

August 22, 2010

Street Corner has filed a request under New York State Freedom of Information Law with the FOIL officer of the New York Power Authority requesting certain public records of NYPA relating to various activities and policies of the  C.E.O. of NYPA, Richie Kessel.

Street Corner Conservative will keep its readers informed of NYPA’s response to the FOIL request. 

The following is the text of the letter sent to NYPA’s FOIL officer:

New York Power Authority
Office of the Secretary
123 Main Street, 15-M
White Plains, NY 10601

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am a taxpayer and resident of the State of New York and pursuant to New York Public Officer Law and the provisions of the regulations of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) adopted pursuant to the Public Officer Law (21 NYCRR Part 453), I demand access to the following records by email to me if possible:

1. Information and records as to contributions and payments to not-for-profit entities from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate including purchase of tickets or sponsorships to events conducted by any such not-for-profit for the period January 1, 2009 through and including July 31, 2010;

2. Information as to each NYPA facility or office the President and CEO of NYPA was physically present in during each business day of the period from February 13, 2009 through and including July 31, 2010;

3. Information and records as to discussions, memoranda, financial and analyses and information as to any proposed merger, consolidation, combination or other transaction of any kind between or among NYPA and the Long Island Power Authority created (whether or not by or on behalf of NYPA) from February 13, 2009 and through and including July 31, 2010;

4. Information and records as to health insurance coverage or benefits or indemnification against health insurance coverage provided to any NYPA Board member;

5. Information and records as to use of cars in NYPA’s car pool for the White Plains office from the period from September 1, 2008 through and including July 31, 2010 by any of Richard Kessel, Bert Cunningham, Rocco Iannerelli, Francine Evans, Sarah Barish Straus, Denise Ellison, Roni Epstein, Victoria Simon and Francis X. Ryan (collectively, the “Subject Employees”);

6. Information and records as to expense reports by any of the Subject Employees filed during or with respect to the period (or any part thereof) September 1, 2008 through and including July 31, 2010.

If all of the records I have requested cannot be e-mailed to me, please inform me by e-mail of the portions that can be e-mailed and advise me of the cost for reproducing the remainder of the records requested.

If the requested records cannot be e-mailed to me due to the volume of records identified as responsive to my request, please advise me of the actual cost of copying such records onto a CD-ROM, if that is possible.

Please advise me of the cost of providing paper copies of the requested records.

If my request is deemed to be too broad or not to reasonably describe the requested records, please contact me via e-mail so that I may clarify my request and, when appropriate, please advise me as to how NYPA records are filed, retrieved, or generated.

If for any reason any portion of my request is denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name, mailing address, and e-mail address of the person to whom an appeal should be directed. Thank you for your expected cooperation.

Very truly yours,

George J. Marlin

Political corruption, New York style – By George J. Marlin

August 13, 2010

The following appears in the August 13-August 19 issue of the Long Island Business News:

As New York sinks further into the fiscal abyss, shameless members of our political class are out of control in their quests to sidestep the law, line their pockets or enrich their families and cronies.

On the federal level, let’s start with the dean of New York’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel. The 20-term representative has been charged with failing to disclose $1.7 million of personal assets; failing to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income; receiving improper benefits from the use of four rent-stabilized apartments and using office stationary to solicit funds for a charity named after him.

Then there’s U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman who, after making a $100,000 profit on Xenonics Inc., held a meeting in his congressional office with Xenonics employees and representatives of the Israeli government. His actions appear to violate House ethic rules.

He’s followed by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, who is being investigated by the Feds over a charity scandal, confessed to failing to report $55,000 in personal loans. (In 1985, Idaho Congressman George Hansen served time for not disclosing loans made to him.)

As for this year’s Albany scandals, here’s a sampling:

  • Gov. David Paterson is being investigated to determine if he lied about receiving Yankee tickets worth $2,000, and if there was a quid pro quo for awarding the Aqueduct racino contract to a politically connected consortium.
  • Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. was accused in a civil suit filed by AG Andrew Cuomo of diverting over $14 million from nonprofit clinics he founded. The U.S. attorney is heading a criminal investigation.
  • The Senate’s Temporary President Malcolm Smith is being investigated by the U.S. attorney concerning $111,000 in members’ items that were being steered to New Directions Development Corp. of Queens.
  • Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson did legal work for a shady Queens real estate broker being investigated for fraud and predatory lending.
  • State Sen. Hiram Monserrate was expelled by his colleagues after being convicted of assaulting a lady friend.
  • Former state Sen. Efrain Gonzalez Jr. was sentenced to seven years for stealing hundreds of thousands from nonprofit groups.

Reacting to these scandals, Cuomo put it this way: “The amount of political dysfunction in Albany is matched only by the lack of integrity.”

Local governments are not exempt from corruption charges: New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook was hit with a 13-count federal indictment involving $1.2 million of city money granted to nonprofits controlled by his brother and two sisters.

And in Nassau, two former county legislators, Roger Corbin and Patrick Williams, and two North Hempstead officials, Neville Mullings and David Wasserman, were indicted by the D.A. on charges of theft, conspiracy and fraud in connection with the New Cassel Redevelopment Project.

Political parties are also in the muck: The Working Families Party, a creation of ACORN and public employee unions, is being investigated by the U.S. attorney over campaign finance activities.

Manhattan’s D.A. indicted Republican John Haggerty in June for allegedly gleaning $750,000 from the Independence Party. Party Chairman Frank McKay is under investigation by two district attorneys for roles he played in 2009 New York City races. Political wags are also wondering if it was a coincidence that both 2006 Republican AG candidate Jeanine Pirro and 2010 GOP Comptroller candidate Harry Wilson hired the Roosevelt Group, a mysterious political consulting firm with ties to the party, after receiving their respective Independence Party nominations.

Corruption in New York has reached epidemic proportions because too many pols are vain, arrogant people who believe that their lofty positions place them above the rules. Holding office is not about principles or the pursuit of the common good, but about the spoils of office: lifestyle, patronage, contracts, favors, deals and money.

Our state is in fiscal crisis and while many wonder whether the state’s best days may be behind it, this “damn the taxpayer” behavior is turning the once-mighty Empire State into a municipal desert.

On Hobbes’ Leviathan – By George J. Marlin

August 11, 2010

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on August 11, 2010.