Wednesday, February 29, 2012

John Liu Treasurer Arrested

And now, we see how far Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn will go to knock off each of Speaker Quinn's competitors for the Democratic primary.

From The New York Times :

City Comptroller’s Campaign Treasurer Arrested on Fraud Charges
Published: February 28, 2012

The campaign treasurer for John C. Liu, the city comptroller, was charged with fraud and obstruction of justice on Tuesday as an expanding federal investigation of the comptroller’s fund-raising reached inside Mr. Liu’s inner circle for the first time.
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Mr. Liu speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Lower Manhattan. He said he was “stunned” by Ms. Hou's arrest.

The treasurer, Jia Hou, 25, is accused of helping to funnel illegal campaign money to Mr. Liu by using straw donors and impeding investigators’ efforts to gather information about the fund-raising.

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

Mr. Liu said on Tuesday evening that he was “stunned” by Ms. Hou’s arrest.

“These allegations against Jia Hou are uncharacteristic and unexpected of this intelligent, hardworking person that I’ve come to know and depend upon,” Mr. Liu told reporters outside the office of his campaign consultant, George Arzt. “And I sincerely hope she will be treated fairly.” ....

He added that he would review the charges and “we’ll figure out how to move forward from here.”

Read the rest of the article here : City Comptroller’s Campaign Treasurer Arrested on Fraud Charges

Friday, February 24, 2012

Did Rudin Pay Off Stringer ?

According to a new Crain's article, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has wilted under pressure. Only a few months ago, true to his so-called "progressive beliefs," he issued a scathing report questioning City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's use of corrupt slush funds. Now, all of a sudden, he has turned his back on the community, to whom he promised that he would help lead the charge to fight for a full-service hospital to replace St. Vincent's Hospital. Instead, Borough President Stringer has sold out. Many community members are asking : "How large were the campaign contributions made by the Rudin family to Stringer ?"
Quinn covered on St. Vincent's

When the City Council casts a final vote on Rudin Management's plan to redevelop the defunct St. Vincent's Hospital next month, Council Speaker Chris Quinn will find herself caught between her vocal, left-leaning constituency and the scion of a prominent real estate family backed by the city's business community. But few observers believe she will find herself in a pickle.

Insiders say a path has been carved for Quinn to green-light Bill Rudin's project—which includes 450 luxury condos and a $100 million emergency-care  center—with limited backlash from longtime residents and Village activists who decry the loss of a full-service hospital in the area.

Rudin's concessions have given Quinn substantial political cover. The developer agreed to create a 16,500-square-foot park and a 564-seat public elementary school and to scale back the height and bulk of his project by 30%. Overall, it will have a smaller footprint than the shuttered St. Vincent's campus.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has also come to the speaker's aid. While Community Board 2 issued a blistering resolution against the redevelopment and voted it down, Stringer gave it a conditional thumbs-up. He didn't support the community board's demand for Rudin to finance affordable housing in the area, taking heat off the developer and Quinn.

Even as opponents scramble to extract further concessions, an insider said the speaker sees little reason to placate them. “Chris has grown beyond the old Village guard,” the insider said. “She's willing to roll over them on this one.”

Yet observers say opponents to St. Vincent's are formidable enough to make Quinn squirm a little. Few have forgotten that she won only 52% of the vote in her 2009 re-election campaign, as two challengers ran to her left. “There are still a lot of people in this community who feel they've been abandoned,” said a person who has worked closely on the project.

Those people, however, might have to come to terms with Quinn's likely choice. “Some politicians have to tell you what you don't want to hear,” said another observer, “whether you like it or not.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

YouTube Censors Political Video

By claiming copyright infringement, EMI has disrupted free expression and harmed the Internet.

After 457 views and 5 comments, YouTube has blocked a video critical of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 226 countries, according to information made available by YouTube.

You have disputed a copyright claim on your video, Christine Quinn's Puppet Show and Political Farce (Term Limits Remix).

All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content:

Entity: EMI Content Type: Sound Recording"

What should I do?

No action is required on your part. Your video is still available in the locations listed above. In some cases ads may appear next to your video.

What can I do about my video's status?

Please note that the video's status can change, if the policies chosen by the content owners change. You may want to check back periodically to see if you have new options available to you.

The controversial YouTube video was made only with the intention of being political satire.

In fact, this was the initial information submitted by the maker of the controversial YouTube, to protect the free expression nature of the video :

This video uses copyrighted material in a manner that does not require approval of the copyright holder. It is a fair use under copyright law. Copyright notice : Fair use of an excerpt of "Puppet On A String" by Sandie Shaw is claimed under applicable U.S. Copyright laws. The excerpt of the song was transformed into a political satire of the puppet-master relationship between New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and, as such, the appropriate use of the excerpt is different from the original song. This use is intended as a video version of an old-fashioned editorial cartoon.

This is perfect example of the First Amendment dangers of the SOPA (the "Stop Online Piracy Act") and PIPA (the "PROTECT IP Act") bills. The subject recording, "Puppet On A String," by Sandie Shaw, was excerpted for this video ; the entire song was not used. Rather, the song was split into 3 parts, with only the introduction and the second half of the song being used. This video does not purport to use the entire song, nor are the name of the artist and the title of the song used in the title of the controversial YouTube video. It is not known exactly when EMI and YouTube joined forces to block the >Christine Quinn Puppet Show video, but last week a replacement video was posted on DailyMotion :

Christine Quinn's Puppet Show and Political Farce by connaissable

According to information made available by YouTube in respect of the copyright dispute, the political video, "Christine Quinn's Puppet Show and Political Farce (Term Limits Remix)," has been "blocked" by EMI and YouTube in the United States and in 225 other countries, but it remains "available" in 21 countries : Aland Islands, Andorra, France, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe,Guernsey, Guyana, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, New Caledonia, Reunion, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, South Sudan, United Kingdom, Wallis and Futuna, and West Bank -- where it will have no effect to educate the public about Speaker Quinn's record of corruption.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bill de Blasio Campaign Cash Reporting

Bill de Blasio issues "corrections" to campaign contributions report ; real estate developer Bruce Ratner's role is altered.

In a confusing series of moves, the 2013 mayoral campaign of Bill de Blasio issued corrections to his campaign contribution disclosure reports,The New York Post reported.

The campaign filing showed that Mr. Ratner raised $4,000 for Mr. de Blasio's campaign from three construction executives — Michael Kaleda, Joseph Posillico, and Lloyd Sokoloff. But after Mr. de Blasio's Campaign Finance Board's filing was challenged by reporters from The NYPost, Mr. de Blasio's campaign disclosed that Mr. Ratner raised an additional $4,500 from real estate bosses Anthony Mann, Richard Minieri, and Vincent Sciullo.

Then, after the $8,500 was disclosed as being linked to Mr. Ratner, the de Blasio campaign then issued another alteration to their report : "They said it was a mistake to list him as the 'intermediary' since the entire $8,500 was actually solicited by Robert Sanna, one of his top aides at Forest City Ratner Companies," The NYPost reported.

Nobody knows what Mr. de Blasio has to gain by changing the name of the intermediary (or campaign bundler) from Mr. Ratner to Mr. Sanna.

Peninsula Hospital Center Bankruptcy Update

Peninsula's vital signs showing symptoms of distress.

Plans by Revival Home Health Care, a for-profit health care company, to acquire Peninsula Hospital Center could collapse, as a creditors group asks the Bankruptcy Court to let creditors market Peninsula to other potential buyers, reported Crain's.

It is unclear if Peninsula's unsecured creditors are afraid that the New York State Department of Health and/or the Bankruptcy Court will block the Revival Home Health Care deal. But the Crain's reported added that an official report by a court-appointed examiner found serious, possible conflicts of interests between the Peninsula's board and its buyer, Revival.

The employees and creditors of Peninsula don't have much to worry about : the serious conflicts of interest that existed in the bankruptcy and sale of St. Vincent's Hospital to the Rudin family for pennies of the dollar, the Rudin family's campaign donations to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn that have the appearance of "pay-to-play" implications, and even an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, have yet to stop the Rudin family's massive billion-dollar luxury condo and townhouse conversion plan for St. Vincent's.

The only thing that remains truly uncertain is how much of Peninsula's full hospital services will remain after the sale. By comparison, after St. Vincent's was closed, its full-service hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center services were downsized to an urgent care clinic to be operated by Lenox Hill Hospital.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rudin Political Donation Hedging

When both Anthony Weiner and Christine Quinn were the front-running mayoral candidates, the Rudin Family made sizable campaign donations.

Do the Rudin Family's $70,000 in political donations to Christine Quinn, Peter Vallone, and Anthony Weiner constitute a corrupt effort to make sure that the Family gets approval for their controversial luxury condo conversion of St. Vincent's Hospital ?

Rudin-Family-Poltiical-Donations-2013-Election-Cycle, Is the Rudin Family making $70,000 in political donations to Christine Quinn, Peter Vallone, and Anthony Weiner an corrupt effort to make sure that they get approval for their controversial luxury condo conversion of St. Vincent's Hospital ?

The Family's equal total donations to each of former Congressman Weiner and Speaker Quinn were calculating, because now that Mr. Weiner is out of the mayoral race, they had a Plan B in Speaker Quinn.

Councilmember Vallone is chair of the Public Safety Committee : now, there will likely be no councilmember, who will be allowed to speak out to the irresponsible public health aspect of closing charity hospitals, privatising their real estate, and doing nothing as luxury condos are built on the former site of St. Vincent's Hospital.

You can confirm the sources of the funding from these links : (i) Eric C. Rudin, Jack Rudin, Katherine L. Rudin, and William C. ("Bill") Rudin ; (ii) Beth R. DeWoody ; and (iii) Madeline R. Johnson.

The Rudin family has spent almost $70,000 in political donations, and another $500,000 in lobbying expenses -- all in a desperate attempt to get approval for the luxury condo conversion scheme for St. Vincent's, because there is profit that is valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rudin Luxury Condo Lobbying Expenses

Like our new Facebook page : Is Fried Frank betraying the legacy of Sarge Shriver ?

Bill Rudin and the Rudin Family stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars from the Luxury Condo Conversion of St. Vincent's Hospital, so much so, that spending $500,000 in lobbying alone is no big whoop.

Rudin Management Company, Inc., has declared $576,921 in lobbying expenses to New York City under the "Pay-to-Play" campaign finance reform regulations.

Rudin-Management-Lobbying-Expenses-St-Vincents-Hospital-Luxury-Condos, Rudin Management Inc. - Declared Lobbying Expenses - Melanie Meyers Travis Terry - Fried Frank James Capalino & Associates

Over the course of the last 4 years, Rudin Management has paid at least $371,246 in declared lobbying expenses to the real estate lawyers and other lobbyists at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. The Fried Frank real estate lobbyist that was most visible during the Community Board 2 hearings was Melanie Meyers. (Fried Frank is the old law firm, where Sarge Shriver once worked as a name partner ; Fried Frank is now disparaging Mr. Shriver's activist commitment to healthcare under President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty.")

Another $205,675 was paid by Rudin Management to the James F. Capalino & Associaties, Inc., lobbying firm. Interestingly, over 75% of the staggering amount paid to Capalino & Associates was for lobbying that targeted Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. On November 25, 2011, President Stringer issued a recommendation in favour of the Rudin Luxury Condo Conversion of St. Vincent's Hospital.

A .pdf report of the Rudin Management Company, Inc., lobbying expenses is available on Scribd :

Bill Rudin - Rudin Family Lobbyists - St Vincents Hospital - NYC Search Results

(All the money that Rudin Management has spent on lobbying does not include what amounts are undeclared lobbying expenses, or how much North Shore-LIJ and Lenox Hill Hospital have spent on lobbying, public relations, or advertising campaigns, to install a first aid clinic in the O'Toole Building.)