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Stalling the ACORN investigation? The Democrats’ strategy to deal with ACORN scandal.

October 27, 2009

Democrats in Congress are now trying to put off any real investigation of ACORN in the House as per this article in The American Spectator. Maybe they think the scandal will fade away.  Maybe they just want to put off any harm (caused by the links between the Dem. Party and ACORN) till after the next set of federal elections in 2010.

I don’t think the scandal will go away anytime soon because of the following.

  1. The Big Government website is inflicting the political equivalent of the death of 1000 cuts to ACORN.  Every time ACORN comes up with some spin (no matter how lame) to explain the videos being posted on that Website (in which ACORN staffers give advice to two undercover reporters on how to fund a proposed prostitution scheme) the website then releases another video killing the spin attempt.  I’ve never seen this technique handled so well and be so effective. It’s almost like Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football.
  2. The MSN has been embarrassed (hopefully) by their failure to promptly jump on this story and the way they were taken in (lied to) by ACORN’s original spinning For years the MSN believed whatever they were told about ACORN. Whenever there was a voting/registration scandal the spin was basically “It’s only an isolated instance of misbehavior by low level staffers” and/or “the registration fraud really wasn’t significant” (i.e. you can’t prove we stole the election.) Eventually, the MSN will bring some of their resources to bear on ACORN and judging from what we’ve seen so far there will be a lot of grist for the mill. Aside from the wonderful videos at Big Government there is still the outstanding scandal of the embezzlement of $1 million (or is it more like $5 Million) by one of ACORN’s founder and the cover up of same. Then there is the matter of ACORN’s finances. Apparently lots of ACORN’s money was transferred between various accounts and/or affiliated organization seemingly haphazardly. My experience is that whenever a large organization plays fast and loose with its money someone somewhere will be dipping in the till. I think the investigation of the other scandals currently playing out will lead to the discovery of more instances of embezzlement/mis-use of funds.  Also, ACORN seems to have problems paying its bills/taxes.
  3. Importantly, ACORN so far has shown itself to be completely incompetent at covering up their messes.  ACORN is used to getting a pass from the MSN and politicians so they haven’t developed sufficient skills/paranoia to allow ACORN to conduct a successful cover-up.  All of a sudden ACORN has stopped being a powerful political force and become prey.
  4. Former staffers and other with ties to ACORN will start to turn on ACORN. This is already occurring but my experience tells me it will become much more prevalent.  Once a significant number of staffers turn there will be a free for all as everyone tries to make a deal /get immunity.

I think the leaders of the Dem. Party understand that their best strategy is to try to hold off the investigations as long as possible till after the 2010 elections and they retain enough seats to still control the House and Senate. If they retain control of Congress at least they can exert some control over the Congressional investigations of ACORN i.e. “control the fall”.  Unfortunately for the Dems this strategy it may not work since there are too many outside forces (republicans, bloggers, the MSN-reluctantly and maybe even some state AGs.) who will also be looking into ACORN.


ACORN, it’s nice to have friends in high places.

October 27, 2009

It’s nice when you have friends in high places but will it help in the long-term? Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) who chairs House Judiciary subcommittee that might well have to investigate ACORN has long term ties to ACORN ties to ACORN as per this article at Big Government (my new favorite blog) by Matthew Vadum.  As per the article Nadler a long term ACORN supporter (chairs a House subcommittee) was reported to have asked ACORN’s NYS based lawyer in a phone conversation why ACORN didn’t sue to stop Congress from cutting off ACORN’s funding from the federal government. Could there be a conflict here? Should a ranking House subcommittee chairman who may well have to participate in an investigation of ACORN suggest legal strategies to ACORN’s lawyer? Nadler was one of the few Congressional Democrats to vote against the funding cut off.

Cuomo Redux? Will Andy finally achieve Cuomolot?

October 27, 2009

There was a great article in the New York Post by Charles Gasparino about Andrew Cuomo (so far) less then illustrious career. Gasparino notes that Cuomo is currently the media darling (so was Elliott Spitzer at one point) and that looking at the facts of his career might tell a different story then what the media is peddling right now.

The article which seems to be  a teaser (at least in my mind) for Gasparino’s forthcoming book, “The Sellout” about the financial crisis   promises more about Cuomo’s responsibility for the financial meltdown we are living thru. The article is a brief synopsis of Cuomo’s career and hints that Cuomo is less than his current reputation.

There is a passing note about how Cuomo’s Trooper Gate investigation into Spitzer and companies’ misuse of NYS Troopers “never lived up to its initial promise”. I agree and I still can’t believe that Cuomo conducted that investigation without ever even interviewing Governor Spitzer or trying to take testimony from witnesses under oath. (He did allow 2 important witnesses to submit written statements to his office) I’ve know lots of Assistant District Attorneys and Law Enforcement personnel over the years and one thing they all agree on is that interviewing  an actual witness ( i.e. Spitzer) in an investigation like this is a good thing.  Spitzer readily submitted to an interview by the Albany County DA who was aklso investigating the scandal.

Trying to take witness testimony under oath is an even better thing.  First off, questioning a witness face to face whenever possible is just standard procedure in law enforcement.  Also note, witnesses under oath are more likely to tell the truth during an investigation because they fear being charged with perjury if they lie. These are essential tools in the prosecutor’s toolbox and Cuomo didn’t bother trying to use them.  Questioning witnesses face to face and taking sworn testimony from witnesses are the underlying foundations for investigations/prosecutions all over America.  Look at any good TV show about cops and prosecutors, it’s that simple.

I can understand why Cuomo didn’t learn this since when he was employed as an Assistant District Attorney in New York County unlike most ADAs in NYC he neglected to complete the standard 3 year commitment to be an ADA. People took this commitment seriously when I practiced criminal law, No one wanted to break the commitment especially after only the 14 months as an ADA that Cuomo served.  As per Cuomo his boss, Robert Morgenthau, the District Attorney of New York County (Dem-Senile) had no problem with Cuomo leaving after (approx.) 14 months because of  Cuomo’s  (as per Cuomo) prior public service and that that was what he and Cuomo had previously agree on before Cuomo became an ADA. Note, Morgenthau’s letter to Cuomo regarding his resignation doesn’t seem to mention this understanding. Yeah, Cuomo got a pass that other politically unconnected ADAs (who didn’t have fathers that were sitting Governors) never would have received. Apparently, most of Cuomo’s prior public service consisted on working on his father’s political campaign.  As someone who lived in NYS during the years Mario was Governor my opinion is that helping Mario Cuomo run (ruin?) did not constitute a public service.  (Name one important achievement of Mario Cuomo during those years they did not involve rewarding the powerful NYS unions, growing government at a reckless pace or raising taxes.)

Speaking of the benefits of being the Governors’ son, Andy Cuomo after leaving the DA’s office became partner in a law firm and soon young Cuomo who had never practiced law in the private field before flourished. Clients flocked to the firm. Can we blame Andrew for cashing in on the fact his father was Governor?

It doesn’t matter if you get caught!

October 20, 2009

A Hearing Judge for the NYC Dept. of  Health is pleading guilty to using his City computer and e-mail account to pursue an online degree as per this New York Post article. The plea agreement posted notes as follows:

COIB CASE NO. 2009-479
OCTOBER 13, 2009
SUMMARY: The Board and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”) concluded a three-way settlement in which a Hearing Officer in the Administrative Tribunal of DOHMH’s Office of the General Counsel paid a $1,400 fine to DOHMH for, while on City time, using City resources to pursue an online degree at Capella University. The Hearing Officer admitted that, at times when he was supposed to be doing work for DOHMH, he used a City computer and his DOHMH e-mail account in an amount substantially in excess of the de minimis amount permitted by the City of New York’s Policy on Limited Personal Use of City Office and Technology Resources (also known as the “Acceptable Use Policy”) to complete coursework related to an online degree at Capella University. The Hearing Officer acknowledged that his conduct violated the City’s conflicts of interest law, which prohibits a public servant from using City time and City resources to pursue private activities. COIB v. Anthony, COIB Case No. 2009-479 (2009).

(I can’t figure out how to link to this doc. but it can be accessed thur the NYC Board of Conflicts website.)

In return for pleading guilty Anthony will only be fined $1,400.00. He will not lose his job or be suspended for any substantial period of time.  I know it seems this this might be a trivial affair but Anthony is a Hearing Judge, he judges the actions of other people for a living. Shouldn’t he be held to a higher standard? If people know the Judge is a crook how can anyone respect the system.  (I can’t find any further details online but why is someone who is a Hearing Judge seeking an online degree in the first place?)  I know there’s not a direct relationship between the two situations but in the meantime the powers that be in NYC have decreed that schoolchildren can’t hold bake sales anymore. There’s time for them to meddle in our lives in increasingly mundane matters but they can’t effectively police themselves. I need to get a government job that way at least I’d be on the inside laughing out (and possible earn a further degree).

P. Diddy’s new rap version of “Send in the clowns(?lawyers)”.

October 16, 2009

Saw a great article in the NY Post today about P. Diddy accidently tossing a diamond ring into a crowd of fans in a mid-town studio. If losing a ring worth $20,000.00 wasn’t bad enough it was allegedly decided to frisk the crowd/fans of about 160 by security staff before they were allowed to leave. The Post story also contains some Twitter posts from crowd members and they didn’t seem too happy.  One Twitter post quoted in the Post story noted “When it was over, diddy held us hostage looking for his lost ring. don’t like him anymore.”

Losing the affection of fans may be the least of Diddy’s worries. How long do you think it will be before the crowd “lawyers up” and sues everyone in sight? This could be a nightmare for Diddy since any insurance he might have may well not apply to this situation leaving him to hire lawyers to defend any lawsuits out of his own pocket.

There was a case awhile ago reported by the Village Voice in which a bunch of kids on their way to a funeral were stopped and frisked by the NYPD. In the end the City of New York ended up paying $257,000 to 16 of the kids/plaintiffs. That works out to approx. $16,000 per plaintiff. In the Diddy matter there seem to be approx. 160 potential plaintiffs. If the all settled for $16,000 it comes out to a total of $2,560,000. That doesn’t include the fees and expenses of lawyers to defend the claims which could add a few hundred thousand more dollars to the potential total. So whoever make the (alleged at this point) decision to frisk the audience essentially ended up risking over $2.5 Million dollars to recover a $20,000 ring. That’s just bad decision making.  But there may be a silver lining, these days those who make bad financial decisions are eligible for government bailouts.

One final note (if the story is true) whoever made the decision to frisk the audience or carried out the frisking could possible by guilty of the crime of Unlawful Imprisonment. It has been years since I practiced criminal law but if you unlawfully prevent someone from leaving a place against their will you might be charged with this crime. It may well be that the New York County District Attorney’s Office will look into this situation. According the Diddy Wikipedia page that office previously indicted and failed to convict Diddy on weapons charges stemming from an incident at Club New York in 1999. Prosecutors tend to have long memories and celebrity defendants are tempting/career making targets.

Charlie Rangel’s primary opponent, hope and Change for NYC?

October 15, 2009

Charlie Rangel’s primary opponent is Vincent (Vince) S. Morgan. I looked him up as well as I could and his current employment is as a VP at TD Bank apparently in charge of compliance with the CRA. His Face book bio contains info as follows:

Vince’s professional career spans almost two decades in sectors ranging from business to banking to politics. Currently, he serves as a Vice President and Community Development Manager for TD Bank. As manager of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance for the State of New York and Northern New Jersey, he manages strategic partnerships in both corporate and not-for profit sectors. Two of his priorities are the development of affordable housing and financial literacy. “As a community banker, I am most proud of my work to bring resources to not-for-profits dedicated to investing in people and neighborhoods.”

He began working for Rangel  in 20001 as a volunteer. At the current time he is also listed as a founder of Harlem Now.

His Facebook bio does not mention that he is also the chairman of the 125th Street BID.   My understanding is that in NYC BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) are quasi-public entities which are intended to help a community develop itself. They are funded by a tax on businesses in the designated community.

From my research above it seems to me that Morgan is not much of a reformer as much as an ambitious political machine politician. Even if his is elected in place of Rangel the ideology will be as before i.e. liberal/leftist. (Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss.) The major difference would be that Morgan not having as much seniority as Rangel accumulated in the House would not be installed as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee but would start out as a relatively powerless freshman representative.

Morgan eventually may be more effective on behalf of his ideology then Rangel.  Rangel despite his seniority in the House and the fact the MSN treat him as some sort of deity is really sort of a clown/incompetent. I remember his way of trying to stop the Iraqi war effort was to propose a draft. In addition Rangel once met with officials of AIG to seek and donation to a school at City College named for Rangel, shortly after which AIG sought Rangel’s support for a tax cut bill benefitting AIG.  How much more open and obvious can you be! Rangel also used a rent-stabilized apt in the building where he lives as a campaign headquarters. The rent stabilizations laws were supposed to help NYC residents keep their apts by limiting rent increases.

It may be too early to tell but Morgan doesn’t seem to stand for anything new under the sun, just old wine in a new bottle. He might be smoother then Rangel having had some corporate experience. But the fact that his current job at TD Bank (I can’t find out any info on how long he’s held this job) involves compliance with CRA requirements leads me to believe his skills may lie more in the field of gaming the system rather than pushing for real reform and changing the dysfunctional way this city works.  The CRA forced banks to lend money to people who previously were turned down for loans because the banks (based on prior experience in the field of banking) thought there was a significant likelihood the loans could not be paid back. The politicians behind the CRA on the other hand knew better.  We all know how that turned out, gee the banks who had been in the business of making loans for decades were right.  The CRA forced banks to hire compliance staff/community liaisons like Morgan which in my mind is like a protection racket- if you don’t hire our friends we’ll complain you’re not complying with the CRA and cause you all sorts of trouble.

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October 8, 2009

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