Skip to main content

Barrett on the trail of Senate corruption, including Sampson and Kruger; Sharpton's incorrect appeal to racial pride re Heastie

From Wayne Barrett's THE DEAN OF THE SENATE: A commentary on the chronicles of corruption in the state Senate, originally published by City and State 2/12/15:
With all the focus on Shelly Silver and his Assembly apparatchiks, let’s not forget New York’s state Senate, where four of the last five majority leaders have been indicted and the fifth, Dean Skelos, is reportedly under investigation.
The first, Joe Bruno, got his conviction overturned because the U.S. Supreme Court significantly narrowed the “honest services” he owed his constituents, excluding the $3.2 million in conflict-of-interest consulting fees he collected from clients with public business before him. Pedro Espada was forced to resign as leader the same day he was indicted for embezzling hundreds of thousands from a state-funded nonprofit, using $49,000, for example, to make a down payment on a Bentley. Malcolm Smith, who thought cash bribes were the quickest way to buy himself a ballot line for mayor, is now facing 45 years in prison. And John Sampson, who succeeded Smith, will soon go to trial for stealing $400,000 from foreclosure accounts and trying to get a list of the witnesses against him so he could, as he put it, “take them out.” He wasn’t looking for dates.
As one measure of how interlocked this two-house degeneration is, Frank Seddio, the former assemblyman who’s now the boss of the Brooklyn Democratic party and played a pivotal role in the elevation of new speaker Carl Heastie, took credit for Sampson’s 2014 re-election, running the indicted senator’s campaign out of his own Canarsie club.
Remember, as I reported when Sampson was charged, he has been an Atlantic Yards supporter and, as I reported 10/6/09, had a fundraiser hosted for him at Forest City offices. He's another project supporter tainted by criminal charges or convictions.

Public apathy

It's a dismaying tribute to political momentum and public apathy that an indicted elected official like Sampson could be re-elected. But it's not surprising. As Barrett writes:
Criminal charges have become so routine in Albany that the Senate Republicans just re-elected Tom Libous as deputy majority leader without so much as a word of public criticism. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has already indicted Libous and just convicted his son...
Of course numerous other senators have been nailed in recent years, including Carl Kruger, who chaired the Senate budget committee, where billions are bartered.
Kruger, of course, was another big Atlantic Yards supporter.

The Sharpton connection

Barrett writes:
It is comforting to note that local comedian Al Sharpton hosted new speaker Heastie at his National Action Network over the weekend and declared that any attempt to change the three-men-in-a-room nirvana in Albany would now be seen as racist. Along with a prayer blessing for Heastie, Sharpton issued a threat: “If you mess with Carl, you’re messing with us.”
“Don’t talk about breaking up the trio now. We just got into the trio,” Sharpton said, forgetting that Smith, Sampson and ex-governor David Paterson were recently part of the three, actually outnumbering white men at one point. It’s hard to believe Sharpton might’ve forgotten Paterson, Smith and Sampson, since all were involved with him in the Aqueduct scandal, with Sharpton collecting $100,000 in NAN contributions from bidders on the $3 billion, 30-year racino contract, the richest in state history.
(Emphasis added)

Sharpton specializes in such factually-incorrect appeals to racial pride and solidarity. At the March 2010 groundbreaking for the Barclays Center, he declared:
I'm glad I lived to see the color line in ownership broken in Brooklyn, where we've gone from Jackie to Jay-Z, where we can not only play the game but we can own a piece of the game. So my mother saw Jackie and my daughters will see Jay-Z--we have come a long way.
Not only was it odd that Sharpton would declare pride in someone having a tiny fraction of the team, he neglected to point out that in June 2006, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, announced that Brooklyn-born Michael Jordan would become the second-largest investor--two black men running a basketball team.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

As…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…