NYC Top Marginal Combined Tax Rate Would Near 60%
Who wouldn't want to work for the government until August every year?
Congressional plans to fund a massive health-care overhaul could have a job-killing effect on New York, creating a tax rate of nearly 60 percent for the state's top earners and possibly pressuring small-business owners to shed workers.
The top rate in New York City, home to many of the state's wealthiest people, would be 58.68 percent, the Washington-based Tax Foundation said in a report yesterday.
That means New York's top earners, small-business owners and most dynamic entrepreneurs will be facing new fees and penalties.
The $544 billion tax hike would violate one of President Obama's ironclad campaign promises: No family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s.
On the bright side, government control of private sector compensation ought to help ease New Yorkers' concerns about reaching the top bracket.
Chris Quinn's Hysterical Hyperbole
New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn is dismayed about the legislative gridlock in Albany, noting that it has prevented the State Senate from imposing her and Bloomberg's nearly billion-dollar
tax hike "revenue package" on New York City residents.
It's well known that New York is a dangerously undertaxed city, but I'm not sure Quinn's insistence that this is "close to life or death stuff" isn't just a touch overblown.
Hard Chairs and Near-Fights: The Torturous Life Of a Suspended NYC Public School Teacher
Weep for the fully salaried sexual offenders and other miscreants.
Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that's what they want to do.
Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its "rubber rooms" — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.
The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.
"You just basically sit there for eight hours," said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. "I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.' `I've been sitting here for six months.' That sort of thing."
Mimi Shapiro, who is now retired, said she was assigned to sit in what Philadelphia calls a "cluster office." "They just sit you in a room in a hard chair," she said, "and you just sit."
Teacher advocates say New York's rubber rooms are more extensive than anything that exists elsewhere.
NYS Senate Dems Failing To Adjust Gracefully To Minority Status
Blame an evil billionaire outsider, question the residency of your defectors, and when all else fails, lock the chamber doors, shut your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and scream, "Malcolm Smith is still majority leader!"
It's a helluva playbook.
Second Sign of the NY Apocalypse
Here's another head scratcher you probably didn't see coming: despite a 60% approval rating, most New Yorkers want to oust Bloomberg as mayor in November.
55-40 in favor of a "new person."
I rather doubt Mike is sweating the numbers. His bottomless war chest and Presidential-class campaign operation have been known to move mountains.
Holy $#!&: Twin Democrat Defections Hand NYS Senate Back to GOP
The State Senate has fallen silent after Republicans introduced a resolution electing Pedro Espada Jr. as temporary president of the Senate and Dean Skelos as majority leader.
Hiram Monserrate and Espada, both Democrats, apparently will vote with Republicans on the motion, and are doing so now in the midst of a procedural fight.
UPDATE: At 3:47 p.m., Espada was sworn in as president pro tem, and Skelos as majority leader. They called for an immediate meeting of the Rules Committee. All the Democrats but Monserrate, Espada, Ruben Diaz Sr. and Carl Kruger (the original, nominally Democratic "gang of four") are gone from the chamber.
UPDATE: Espada just told reporters that he decided to cross over the aisle and support the Republicans because of the "quagmire" that had occurred since Malcolm Smith and the Democrats took over. He said it has been "chaos" and that he and Monserrate will form a caucus of "reform Democrats."
It's too bad that half of the Gang of 2 is so clutzy, but I ain't complaining.
The State Senate had been in Republican hands for more than 40 years, until the Democrats eked out a majority last November. With all pillars of state government belonging to a single party (and with
gerrymandering redistricting on the horizon), this sudden reversal is likely welcome news for millions of New York taxpayers.
To what do we owe the defections? Did Monserrate and Espada catch sight of today's Rasmussen poll?
Update: All class, all the time.
During the coup, Democrats fled the chamber, turned out the lights, and cut off the Internet feed of chamber proceedings, leaving Republicans and their two Democratic friends to take the vote in the dark.
For the record, CBS News (et al), it wasn't a coup, strictly speaking. It was a leadership change effected through well-established, legal, democratic means, notwithstanding what erstwhile majority leader Malcolm Smith would have you believe.
Smith didn't see it that way. He said the coup was illegal and he was still the majority leader, although he only has about two dozen Democrats with him not the 32 he claims to have.
"Let's just be real clear. The Senate Democrats are still in the majority. Senator Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader," Smith said.
It is real clear, 3rd-person-self-referring Senator Smith. You're out. Skelos is in.
Billionaire Tom Galisano has had enough.
I LOVE New York. But how much should it cost to call New York home? Decades of out-of-control budgets, spending hikes and relentless borrowing have made New York simply too expensive.
Politicians like to talk about incentives -- for businesses to relocate, for example, or to get folks to buy local. After reviewing the new budget, I have identified the most compelling incentive of all: a major tax break immedi ately available to all New Yorkers. To be eligible, you need do only one thing: move out of New York state.
Last week I spent 90 minutes doing a couple of simple things -- registering to vote, changing my driver's license, filling out a domicile certificate and signing a homestead certificate -- in Florida. Combined with spending 184 days a year outside New York, these simple procedures will save me over $5 million in New York taxes annually.
By moving to Florida, I can spend that $5 million on worthy causes, like better hospitals, improving education or the Clinton Global Initiative. Or maybe I'll continue to invest it in fighting the status quo in Albany. One thing's certain: That money won't continue to fund Albany's bloated bureaucracy, corrupt politicians and regular special-interest handouts.
Previously: New Evidence Confirms: People Rational
It's Less Cute When You're Not a Fabulous A-Lister
It's been a rough few days for the paparazzi-unfriendly New York State Senate majority whip Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn). After being arrested on Friday, he was stripped today of his $22,000 leadership stipend by majority leader Malcolm Smith.
Parker, of Brooklyn, is accused of chasing down and confronting a New York Post photographer to prevent him from taking his picture Friday night. He's charged with felony and misdemeanor criminal mischief, assault and menacing. If convicted of a felony, he could lose his seat.
"I expect to be here every week," Parker said from Albany. "I think that the (court) system will work. It's worked for me in the past."
Indeed it has.
The encounter was the latest in a string of reported assaults involving Parker, who has held office since 2002.
In 2005, he was arrested on charges he punched a traffic agent who was writing him a ticket. The charges were dropped after Parker agreed to take an anger management class.
That year, Parker's security pass for state buildings was temporarily suspended for repeated violations of security regulations. A former aide complained that Parker had once assaulted her, then threatened her for talking about the incident.
Last summer, another aide filed a report with police saying Parker had shoved her and smashed her glasses during an argument. At the time, Parker claimed that the woman hit him first.
Smith said he's also awaiting a report on a recent confrontation he was told was "heated discussion" involving Parker and state police in an Albany parking garage.
If you ask me, Smith's giving off mixed signals. Earlier this year, he agreed to seat alleged lady-face-slasher (and habitual, self-dealing diverter of taxpayer funds) Hiram Monserrate into his new Senate majority.
To what can we credit the majority leader's suddenly limited tolerance for violent recidivism among his caucus members?
Previously: Clutzy Hiram Monserrate Sworn Into NYS Senate
Decision Day For Manhattan GOP On Bloomberg's Candidacy
Tonight, members of the New York Republican County Committee will vote on whether to allow Mike Bloomberg a special exemption to run as a Republican (despite having quit the party in 2007) for his prospective third mayoral term.
I've noted in the past that I was at best skeptical that Bloomberg would be able to make a sufficiently convincing case to outweigh his track record of expedient party shifting and lifestyle regulation. Following consultation with Bloomberg's staff in the weeks since, I'm somewhat more encouraged that the mayor's pitch may include what we (or I, anyway) need to hear - namely, that Bloomberg is willing to extend (and, tonight, to pledge with specificity) more overt and substantive support for local candidates, something that's been conspicuously missing over the last eight years.
No Manhattan resident has a Republican representative at any level of government, an imbalance that Bloomberg's staff acknowledges makes his job more difficult. As growing some coattails would seem to be in his honor's own interest (irrespective of his access to the GOP line), I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll make a sufficiently strong commitment on this front to justify the party agreeing to serve as the mayor's doormat as he reenters City Hall.
I'll update tonight with the results of the vote.
Update: What timing. Two separate invitations in the mail today to parties at Gracie Mansion.
Update: As the only candidate to appear at the screening, Bloomberg easily won the county endorsement (and thus access to the GOP primary ballot) with a voice vote that went roughly 30-1 in his favor. More on this later.
My President's Plane Went To Lower Manhattan and All I Got Was This Stupid Ulcer
The $328,835 snapshots of an Air Force One backup plane buzzing lower Manhattan last week will not be shown to the public, the White House said yesterday.
"We have no plans to release them," an aide to President Obama told The Post, refusing to comment further.
The sole purpose of the secret photo-op, which sent thousands of New Yorkers running for cover, was to take new publicity shots of the presidential jet over the city.
"The photos . . . are classified -- that's ridiculous," Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., said.
So the promotional snapshots - so vital as to require absolute secrecy, despite recognition by the planners that the stunt would scare the bujeezus out of New Yorkers - aren't destined for any grand public display that will instill confidence among the populace in the grandeur of our Presidential fleet? Are they at least to be used in some glossy, confidential recruiting brochure for prospective Air Force One pilots?
An AoSHQ commenter wonders:
Perhaps the photos were ruined by people running for their lives in the background?
Another Building-Buzzing Air Force One Glamor Shot Slated For DC?
Audio of 911 Calls Prompted by Ingenious Air Force One Photo Op
Video Of the Idiotic Air Force One Photo Op (And Frightened New Yorkers Fleeing)
Audio of 911 Calls Prompted by Ingenious Air Force One Photo Op
(HT: Rowdy Yates)
Video Of the Idiotic Air Force One Photo Op (And Frightened New Yorkers Fleeing)
Let's adopt this rule of thumb going forward: If it's low enough to sound a discernible jet engine Doppler effect at street level, it's too low for a jumbo jet to fly over lower Manhattan without alerting the public.
I ♥ the 70s
If you do too, then get ready for an Empire State retro-extravaganza.
This state was getting overcrowded anyway.
New York's ruling Democratic trium virate took a giant generational leap backward yesterday to the destructive days of John Lindsay, Abe Beame and Nelson Rockefeller.
The budget created by Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is a monstrously bloated, tax-and-spend plan that, in one fell swoop, reverses a three-decade-long effort to strengthen business and prevent taxpayers from fleeing the state.
The wrecking ball of a new state budget, approved in Kremlin-like secrecy by the troika, also ranks as one of the biggest betrayals in process and substance by a governor in New York history.
How monstrously bloated, you ask?
A Big Apple family of five with a combined income of $450,000 will end up shelling out at least an additional $5,200 a year more under the budget agreed to by Gov. Paterson and legislative leaders.
They'll fork over $4,320 extra in state income tax alone thanks to the "millionaire's tax," which whacks households earning over $300,000 with a 1 percent hike.
The Post reached that number by adjusting their taxable income with $3,000 in deductions for their three children, and the $15,000 standard deduction.
As steep as their new bill is, their more affluent neighbors will be hit even harder. New Yorkers who earn over $500,000 will see their personal income tax rate jump from 6.85 percent to 8.97 percent.
Lamented a prescient econo-political blogger last November in re the tax implications of the new power structure in Albany...
New York's nearly superlatively punitive tax scheme is - amazingly - the product of a legislature whose upper house has been in Republican hands almost exclusively since the late 1930s. While Democrats have long-controlled the State Assembly, the State Senate was New York's final GOP holdout once Client #9 became Governor.
Albany's screwy political architecture means the power in each house is unusually concentrated in the hands of the majority (something Senate Democrats and Assembly Republicans have historically lamented in unison).
In all likelihood, this handover thus heralds a dramatic shift toward even more liberal economic policies in New York State. Perhaps now we can finally win back our #1 ranking from New Jersey as the worst business tax climate in the country, having wallowed at 2nd worst for the last few years.
For a sense of how much economic damage this might inflict on American business generally, consider the fact that the 40-some Fortune 500 companies based in New York City alone account for well over a trillion dollars in annual income (roughly the GDP of Brazil).
State Senate Dems undoubtedly salivate at the thought of this bottomless piggybank which they can now use without obstruction to fund their bloated adventures in big government. Past experience has given us little reason to assume they'll stop to consider the impact of increasingly punitive taxes on job creation, the value of investment portfolios (retirement accounts) that hold stock in large companies, or the general health of the state economy, already nearly crippled by a tax scheme that gives capital and successful businesses every incentive to relocate across state lines or overseas.
The High Cost Of Perpetual Nannyism
Azi Paybarah takes a look at the nearly $3 million that the previously-term-limited Mike Bloomberg has spent to date on his bid for a bonus round of mayoralty.
I’m combing through the numbers now, which campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson cautioned me could change by Monday’s deadline. So, as of now, here’s a few highlights: Among the expenses were four payments totaling more than $365,000 on “voter development” by the Washington-based Strategic Telemetry Inc. He’s spent $50,000 on print ads in Manhattan Media, $110,000 on Internet ads through Connections Media LLC, and$119,233.98 on “furniture” from The Switzer Group in Midtown. There’s also $3,406 spent on the Somos El Futuro Inc., a group comprised of Hispanic state lawmakers.
(Probably) Not If I Can Help It
The Observer weighs in on Bloomberg's prospects to get on the Republican line as he campaigns for the first of his potentially endless mayoral terms beyond the two that everyone believed to be the limit.
Manhattan Republican chair Jennifer Saul is not expected to make a decision in the next few days about whether to allow Michael Bloomberg to run in their primary. "We will do our screening process before the assembled district leaders and members of the executive committee," said the organization's executive director, Jason Weingartner. "A vote will take place afterwards." Those screening meetings historically have taken place in the first week of May, which means that the potentially tie-breaking decision of Saul and the committee—she would be the third of the five city chairs to approve Bloomberg's participation in the G.O.P. primary for mayor—may not be made for weeks.
As one of those district leaders, I'll certainly be delighted to hear what hizzoner has to say (assuming he comes in person to make his case), but I can't say I'll be going in favorably disposed.
A Democrat until he first ran for mayor eight years ago, Bloomberg conspicuously disavowed his nascent Republican status in 2007 (amid rampant rumors he was exploring a self-financed, half-billion dollar bid for the Presidency), saying:
“I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party,” he said in a statement issued while he was in California delivering political speeches. “Although my plans for the future haven t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.”
In the current political environment, I'm loath to advocate against anyone who wants to participate in Republican politics. But in light of Bloomberg's history of calculated party shifting, his jaw-dropping track record of nanny statism, and his correct acknowledgment that his policies have not been in keeping with any brand of Republican (nor, frankly, even mainstream Democratic) ideology, rolling over for sake of notching up an electoral win (an admittedly rare event, as no Manhattan resident has any Republican representation at any level of government) seems nearly as cynical as the mayor's penchant for expedient party affiliation.
As noted, I'm not making up my mind before hearing his argument (and my opinion may well carry minimal weight during the screening process anyway), but shame on Bloomberg for fooling us once in 2001. In the words of our erstwhile President, "Fool me... we can't get fooled again."
Caroline Withdraws For, You Know, Personal Reasons; Update: Or, You Know, Not
Caroline Kennedy has told Gov. Paterson that she is withdrawing her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, The Post has learned.
Kennedy cited "personal reasons," according to sources. Her stunning move comes as sources revealed that Paterson had intended to appoint her to the now-vacant seat on Thursday.
Does it default to Cuomo, then? I guess he'll have to do. He's not royalty, but at least he's a legacy.
(HT: Ben Smith)
Update: Which is it, Highness?
Source: Caroline Kennedy remains in contest to fill Hillary Clinton's NY Senate seat.
Here's a possible chronology, including a fine bit of speculation from Allah:
- Paterson tells Kennedy he plans to tap Cuomo, but will hold off on his announcement until Friday if she wants to bow out "willingly".
- Kennedy bows out "willingly".
- Obama grimaces at the prospect of losing a lap Senator, calls Paterson to recommend he reconsider.
- Paterson (or Obama) lets Caroline know she's still in it, perhaps once again the front runner.
- The awkward Kennedy backpeddle ensues.
- Paterson announces he now hopes to make his pick by the end of the weekend.
Update: Ben Smith offers an arguably more odious explanation.
[O]ther Democrats who ought to be in a position to know are convinced that it's over, though the prevalent theory is that Paterson put out word that Kennedy had turned it down in order to box her in.
Update: She's back out, apparently.
There was complete confusion Wednesday night over whether or not Caroline Kennedy had dropped her bid for Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate seat.
However, late Wednesday night Kennedy confirmed an earlier New York Post report by releasing a statement saying she is removing herself as a candidate for the now vacant New York Senate seat.
"I informed Gov. Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate," Kennedy said in a statement obtained by CBS 2 HD.
Schumer's Pork Nearly Killed 155 People
Thank goodness we New Yorkers have such a stately senior Senator who can secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in pork spending to safeguard our more urbanized gaggles of geese.
A less powerful legislator might've buckled to the "worried band of federal officials who believe the geese are too close to planes carrying millions of passengers in and out of one of the nation's busiest airports."
SCHUMER:$200,000 FOR "GEESEPEACE" SOLUTION TO CANADA GEESE PROBLEM PASSES CONGRESS
Geese overpopulation is a major health hazard to local residents and the environment
US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that Congress has passed $200,000 in federal funds for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a Geesepeace program that works to alleviate the Canada geese overpopulation problem that threatens the health of local residents and the environment. Geesepeace is a national non-profit organization that uses non-lethal methods to reduce the number of geese and redirect them to areas where they pose less of a threat to people.
This issue came up in 2004 when Geesepeace was trying to save a flock of geese from Riker's Island (in the flight path of Laguardia) rather than have the geese killed:
On one side are geese, slender-necked and given to relieving themselves liberally, who like where they are living, a stone's throw away from La Guardia Airport. On the other is a worried band of federal officials who believe the geese are too close to planes carrying millions of passengers in and out of one of the nation's busiest airports.
Video Of US Airways Flight 1549 Hudson River Crash Landing
You knew it had to have been captured somewhere. "Somewhere" (appropriately enough) turned out to be a Coast Guard video camera.
The event in question begins just after the 2:00 mark. Less than 2 minutes later, the NY Waterway ferries are en route and within 4 minutes of impact, the first one is on the scene.
Expertly done, Captain Sullenberger.
Previously: Hero On the Hudson
Update: Via JWF, here it is from another angle. I can't believe how smooth this was.
Update: Fantastic! If not for Chuck Schumer's ability to secure pork for local environmental groups, we might never have had this heroic story to marvel at.
Sullenberger did good work, but Senator Schumer is the real hero.
(HT: Gateway Pundit)
Update: Sully Speaks.
Hero On the Hudson
Michelle's got the dossier on Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who managed to put crippled Flight 1549 down in the Hudson River and walked the sinking plane twice to ensure all passengers had evacuated.
In addition to being a former Air Force fighter pilot, Sullenberger is President and CEO of an aviation safety consulting firm, which I predict will have a strong 2009.
Update: Talk about the right man for the job.
From Sullenberger's resume:
- Driving force behind development of airline’s first CRM course and presenting course to hundreds of USAirways pilots. Significantly reduced number of operational incidents and realized reduction in number of altitude deviations. Course focuses on multi-disciplinary approach involving leadership, communication, decision-making and error management – airline went from 5 major accidents to zero. ...
- Played integral role working with ATA, FAA, NATCA and NTSB to improve operations and investigate several major airline accidents. ...
- Key contributor/member of National Transportation Safety Board Survival Factors Group during investigation of major airline accident at LAX, leading to improved airline procedures and training for emergency evacuations of aircraft.
Update: Video of the crash landing.
Bloomberg's Political Dysmorphia
This is a joke, yes?
Mayor Bloomberg has begun reaching out to city Republican leaders to gauge whether he could run on the GOP line in his re-election bid this year, several sources told The Post.
The maneuvering began in the past two weeks, and sources said the mayor is expected to try to run on a major-party as well as a third-party line, likely one of his own creation.
Several sources said Bloomberg's political aides have started reaching out to GOP chairs in the five boroughs, including Manhattan's Jennifer Saul.
"I've heard from Republican leaders he's been making phone calls," said Gristedes supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis, who for months has been campaigning for the GOP nomination for months.
Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat who joined the Republican Party for his first mayoral bid in 2001 but then abandoned it in 2007, must mend fences if he wants to secure the Republican line, several sources said.
Clutzy Hiram Monserrate Sworn Into NYS Senate
Hiram Monserrate was sworn in as a new state senator Wednesday while authorities in New York City continued to investigate reports that he viciously attacked his girlfriend during an argument.
As he waited earlier in the Senate chamber, Monserrate said his girlfriend was not there; he didn't say why.
I can guess...
Monserrate was charged with assault and weapon possession after Karla Giraldo's face was slashed on Dec. 19 at his Queens home. Both the former New York City councilman and Giraldo say the incident was an accident - Monserrate told police that he tripped while holding a glass of water and that the glass accidentally hit her.
Hiram needs to be more careful. Ms. Giraldo required between 20 and 40 stitches to close up her face after the shards of glass were removed from in and around her eye. (Based on her injuries, the glass also appears to have punched her in the face.)
Jammie Wearing Fool notes that a security tape in the custody of law enforcement purportedly shows Monseratte "dragging the scared, bleeding woman from his apartment" and that the "woman looks scared out of her mind and trying to get away from this guy."
Notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, New Yorkers familiar with Monseratte's record know he is not a violent criminal. In the past, his alleged misdeeds have always been limited to self-dealing, misappropriation of taxpayer money, and abuse of non-profit privileges.
Video: Anti-Israel, Anti-US Protest at United Nations
Living a block from the United Nations has its occasional drawbacks. Whenever you see cops setting up metal barricades on Second Avenue, you know one of those drawbacks is getting ready to spoil your day.
Yesterday, the occasion was a noisy protest over the war crimes and genocide being perpetrated by Israel and the United States against Hamas' terrorist leaders the Palestinian people. Fourteen floors up, there was no escaping the blaring din of misplaced outrage, so I trotted downstairs to capture some footage.
Can you count the keffiyehs? How about the number of screaming children being used as propagandist props?
Evidence Of Caroline's Political Philosophy Unearthed, Hurriedly Re-earthed
And you thought her only qualifications were familial entitlement and sympathy. Turns out she's a deep political thinker, after all.
"Um, well, you know, I don't think this book will work a similar...transformation," Caroline said [in a 2002 radio interview about her father's book Profiles In Courage]. "But I really am interested in the issues and I think it's wonderful for people to get involved, people who are in politics find it so rewarding and I think it's a wonderful thing to do. I think everyone should participate as best they can. There are many ways to serve and make things better."
Madoff Investor Commits Suicide
Authorities found Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet at 7:50 a.m. with no pulse at his office of Access International Advisors, located on Madison Avenue a couple of blocks from Rockefeller Center.
A French newspaper is reporting that the 65-year-old de la Villehuchet committed suicide. The New York medical examiner spokeswoman says it has not determined the cause of death yet.
Madoff is accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that wiped out investors around the world, with big funds like de la Villehuchet's being especially hard hit.
His $1.4 billion fund specializes in managing hedged and structured investment portfolios.
Seeing a significant portion of your $1.4 billion fund evaporate and contemplating the repercussions from your own investors would be sufficient to inspire a certain amount of dismay, but (without knowing anything about de la Villehuchet's fund vis a vis Madoff's), it's also possible that authorities had come knocking on the doors of Madoff's large institutional investors to suss out whether any outside parties were in any way complicit in (rather than sloppily blind to) the fraud. If so, a whole different level of dismay may have befallen de la Villehuchet in recent days.
French business paper La Tribune obtained some relevant quotes, but it's unclear (to me, anyway) whether these are characterizations made by the police to the paper or excerpts from a note or statements made by de la Villehuchet himself, as recounted to the paper by police.
Mr. de La Villehuchet, 65, the founding partner and chief executive at Access International Advisors LLC of New York, was "unable to resist the pressures that followed the eruption of the scandal," according to the report.
He had tried "night and day" to recover funds that Access International raised in Europe through its $1.4 billion Luxalpha fund and had begun legal action in the United States against U.S. authorities, according to the report.
Client #9 Emerges
Tonight at 6:00 pm Three months from now, former Governor Eliot Spitzer will make his first public appearance since resigning in disgrace in March. Spitzer will participate in a debate at Rockefeller University, arguing against the proposition that we should "Blame Washington more than Wall Street for the financial crisis."
His bio seems somewhat incomplete...
Eliot Spitzer was governor of the state of New York from 2007 to 2008, and attorney general from 1999 to 2006. While attorney general, Time magazine named him "Crusader of the Year" for his landmark settlement with ten of the nation's largest securities firms over charges of misleading investors. As a prosecutor in the Rackets Bureau of the Manhattan district attorney's office, Spitzer served as lead attorney in a case that broke the Gambino family's stranglehold on New York's garment industry. He currently writes a biweekly column on finance and the economy for Slate.
Paterson To Rob New Yorkers Blind
See what I did there? It's a pun. At his expense. It's okay - he's a good sport about these things.
Plus, he's earned a bit of rebuke with this one.
Trying to close a $15.4 billion budget gap, Paterson called for 88 new fees and a host of other taxes, including an "iPod tax" that taxes the sale of downloaded music and other "digitally delivered entertainment services."
"We're going to have to take some extreme measures," Paterson said Tuesday after unveiling the slash-and-burn budget.
The proposal, which needs legislative approval, did not include broad-based income tax increases, but relied on smaller ones to raise $4.1 billion from cash-strapped New Yorkers.
Movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages would be taxed under Paterson's proposal. It also extends sales taxes to cable and satellite TV services and removes the tax exemption for clothes costing less than $110.
Paterson managed to peeve folks on both sides of the aisle with this move - Republicans because it serves to further bloat the hideously bloated state government, and Democrats because sales and usage taxes tend to be less "progressive" (read: fairer) than steeply graduated income taxes.
Assembly Speaker [Democrat] Sheldon Silver, who supports a so-called millionaire tax, has said he'd "rather have a broad-based tax than nickel-and-dime" people.
Republican lawmakers expressed concern with the tax and fee increases.
"Instead of raising taxes, we need to be reducing them," said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady).
Rather than slashing the budget during such tight times (or even holding the line), Paterson has managed only to slow the rate of growth.
Paterson's 2009-10 budget proposal represents only a 1% increase in total spending from this year's budget - the smallest increase in a dozen years.
As bad as all this is, I do have to credit Paterson with a comprehension of the behavioral impact of "progressive" taxation that tends to elude most others in his party.
Paterson did not rule out income tax increases but said spending reductions are the priority. He also defended the fee and sales tax increases, saying they would be less harmful to the state's economy.
"If you start taxing at times when [revenues are] receding, you'll drive job creators out of the state," Paterson said.
Update: Jammie Wearing Fool makes an apt cinematic comparison.
George P. Bush For Senate
With Caroline Kennedy now confirming that she would very much like to be hand-picked to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, I feel compelled to advance another candidate: George Prescott Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nephew of the President, and grandson of Bush 41.
It's true that "P." doesn't currently live in New York, but as Hillary aptly
carpetbagged demonstrated in 2000, one doesn't need to establish residency in New York (until the day of election/appointment) to become one of its Senators.
It's also true that Bush has not demonstrated any particular political ambition or experience, beyond campaigning for family members. Of course, the same can be said for Caroline...
So far as I can tell, Bush and Kennedy's qualifications are remarkably well-matched: both are at least 30 years old and both count several family members who have held high office. If the latter represents Kennedy's primary qualification, I'd say Bush likely edges her out with his doubly Presidential family resume.
Yes, the American people carry a certain nostalgia for the image of young Caroline romping around the Oval Office in the 1960s (and I don't mean to diminish the relevance thereof as relates to Senatorial qualifications). But let's not forget George P.'s adorable leading of the Pledge of Allegiance at age 12 at the 1988 Republican National Convention.
Finally, while I'd hesitate to play this card under normal circumstances, here it's worth pointing out that P. is of Hispanic descent. And New York Governor David Paterson - upon whose shoulders falls the terrible burden of picking Clinton's replacement - has explicitly stated that he wants to pick "a woman or an Hispanic candidate."
Thus vanishes any advantage Caroline might have over George. If we're going to incorporate familial considerations into Senate appointments, we may as well be orderly about it. There's been a George Bush or a Prescott Bush in Congress, a Governor's mansion and/or the White House for 42 of the last 57 years (20 of the last 28 as part of a Presidential administration).
This one's a George Bush and a Prescott Bush. And he's a member of the largest and fastest-growing minority in the country. It's as if he were bred in a lab to be the ultimate American politician. I can see it being debatable if Caroline's middle name were Teddy or Bobby, but that incongruous first name and gender tend to muddy the dynastic symmetry.
Update: The incomparable S.E. Cupp has an op-ed in the New York Daily News questioning why Paterson ought to feel compelled to fill Cilnton's seat with another woman.
Meet the New Nanny, Same As the Old Nanny
Remember the refreshingly unmerciful ribbing we were pleasantly shocked to see SNL deliver to New York Governor David Paterson? Apparently Paterson, despite being a man who - per his communications director - "engages in humor all the time," didn't find it so refreshing.
The governor’s communications director, Risa B. Heller, said on Sunday that the skit amounted to nothing more than cheap ridicule — a surprisingly strong reaction considering that the governor is well known for making light of his vision problems.
“The governor engages in humor all the time, and he can certainly take a joke,” Ms. Heller said in a statement. “However, this particular ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit unfortunately chose to ridicule people with physical disabilities and imply that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Governor Paterson, being the fun-loving good time guy that he is, is challenging Mike Bloomberg's previously undisputed title as New York's nanny-in-chief.
Outlaw trans fats? C'mon, Mike. That's small [deep-fried] potatoes. How about a tax on sugar itself?
A can of Coke could soon cost New Yorkers more than just calories.
Gov. Paterson, as part of a $121 billion budget to be unveiled Tuesday, will propose an "obesity tax" of about 15% on nondiet drinks.
Let's just skip the next few chapters and move straight to the government-approved, gluten-free, non-dairy nutrient paste.
For Clinton's Senate Seat, Gov. Paterson Would "Prefer a Man Or a White"
Now that President-elect Obama has made official his intention to nominate Hillary Clinton to head the State Department, speculation has begun to brew in earnest as to her replacement in the U.S. Senate.
Since the most recently elected Governor of New York has resigned in order to spend more time with his family, the terrible burden of appointing Clinton's temporary successor (to serve for two years until a special election in 2010) falls to Governor David Paterson, who - in a shocking turn - has lain bare troubling streaks of racism and sexism in his ruminations over possible appointees.
Perhaps inevitably, noted former President Bill Clinton's name has been floated as a possible replacement. Still, it saddens those of us who cherish the ideals of a color- and gender-blind society that Bubba's race and sex were apparently key resume enhancers.
"This is not an election. This is not a campaign. It's a constituency of one. David Paterson. It's all about what the governor wants to do," said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report.
"Paterson has said he would prefer someone from upstate New York, or a man or a Caucasian candidate," Rothenberg said.
Actually, wait... I think I pasted that wrong. Let's try this again:
"Paterson has said he would prefer someone from upstate New York, or a woman or an Hispanic candidate," Rothenberg said.
There we are.
My apologies to Governor Paterson for that libelous lapse.
Turns out his selection criteria aren't racist or sexist after all. On behalf of 20 million grateful constituents, I thank the Governor in advance for his sober and objective hand-picking of our next representative to the U.S. Senate. Join me in congratulating him for his courage in deciding to use this pick not only to serve the best interests of New Yorkers, but also to pander (quite courageously, mind you) to key voting demographics that may feel underrepresented in elected offices that are - lamentably - so frequently filled according to the coarse and bigoted consensus of their fellow citizens.
Truly, where Eliot Spitzer invited a modicum of shame unto the highest office in the state, Paterson has hereby restored honor and magnanimity to the Governor's mansion. By bravely declaring his disinclination to appoint a white or a male, Governor Paterson reminds us that, while he may be legally blind, he surely cannot be labeled color-blind.
Spitzer's VIP Streetwalker Scores Record Deal, Pun
After a longer-than-expected delay, Client #9's best gal has finally embarked on her singing/dancing/writing/acting/modeling/handbag-designing/celebreality career.
The call girl who cost New York [Democratic] governor ELIOT SPITZER his job has signed a music deal with Violator Records - the same company behind rappers BUSTA RHYMES and MISSY ELLIOT.
Ashlee Dupree shot to fame when her relationship with married politician Spitzer hit the headlines in March (08).
An aspiring singer, Dupree benefited from the exposure and her songs Move Ya Body and What We Want, both posted on her MySpace.com webpage, went on to receive over 3 million internet hits.
And now Dupree has landed a record deal with Violator, according to the New York Post.
A source confirms to AllHipHop.com, "She deserved a fair shake and Violator isn't scared of the controversy."
Hillary Clinton was all set to attend a "Stop Iran Now" rally in New York next Monday, hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council.
I wasn't sure whether it might be a hoax when word of the announcement email went out last night, given the event's other headliner.
But according to Hillary's people, she wasn't aware that she'd have to share the stage with Washington's new it girl when she accepted. And when Hillary found out her limelight would be dimmed by the Alaskan upstart, she pulled out.
Some things are just more important than stopping Iran (now).
Rumors Of His Death Were Roughly As Exaggerated As Everyone Assumed
Samuel Israel, III, the hedge fund manager and convicted fraudster who took a detour while driving himself to prison to begin his 20-year sentence last month, in order to pitch himself off the Bear Mountain Bridge, has turned himself into authorities.
Mr. Israel, who disappearing last month shortly before he was supposed to begin serving a 20-year prison term, turned himself into the Southwick, Mass., police department at 9:15 a.m. EDT Wednesday, an assistant to Southwick Police Chief Mark J. Krynicki said Wednesday.
Mr. Israel, the former chief executive of Bayou Management LLC, is expected to be turned over to U.S. Marshals Service, which led the manhunt, later Wednesday, she said.
On June 9, Mr. Israel's sport-utility vehicle was found abandoned on a bridge in Westchester County with the words "suicide is painless" scrawled in the dust on the hood -- about 90 minutes before he was to report to prison in Massachusetts.
Authorities investigated at the time whether he may have jumped from the bridge in a suicide attempt, but they later ruled that out.
2nd Amendment Quiz Time!
The Supreme Court may have upheld the Constitutional rights of Washington residents to bear arms, but here in New York, good luck carrying concealed french fries, much less a firearm (unless you're spectacularly wealthy, of course).
In a city with such a charmingly totalitarian spin on individual liberties, can you guess where the easiest place to arm yourself to the teeth would be?
- Gun show/exhibition
- Property clerk's office, 1 Police Plaza
Answer after the jump.
If you guessed Property clerk's office, 1 Police Plaza, kudos.
Nearly one out of three handguns and rifles that had been turned in to the police could not be immediately accounted for in a Manhattan property clerk’s office, according to a city audit released on Tuesday that criticized the Police Department’s storage procedures.
The audit, conducted by the office of William C. Thompson Jr., the city comptroller, examined the records of 324 weapons chosen at random out of thousands in storage in the Manhattan property division. Ninety-four of them could not be immediately found in their assigned storage areas.
After the initial search, it was determined that 70 of the 94 weapons had been returned to their owners or destroyed, Mr. Thompson said, while 24 “miraculously” turned up on shelves from where they had previously been missing after several attempts to find them.
“At no time were we given a satisfactory explanation about where the firearms had been, how they had been located or how they had been returned to the same spot that the auditors and the property clerk staff had checked on at earlier dates,” Mr. Thompson said.
The report said the Manhattan office had 29,576 handguns and thousands of rifles as of June 2007. It said auditors found rifles stacked on top of one another, some without identifying tags.
Guest Blog: Inside the Angry Mind Of a New York State Senate Staffer
Last week, New York State Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno unexpectedly announced his retirement. Bruno, 79, will be succeeded by Sen. Dean Skelos as the leader of the razor-thin GOP majority (and the only superlatively-ranked elected Republican in the state).
In the days since, there's been plenty of speculation as to Bruno's motives for stepping down - his age, his health (which, by all accounts, is fine), his having lost his wife of 57 years in January, the ongoing FBI probe into his private business affairs, and (perhaps most dauntingly) the possibility that he expects Democrats to seize the Senate majority this November and is simply not keen on sticking around when that final retaining wall gives way and New York's Democrats arrogate absolute control of the state.
One displeased anonymous Republican Senate staffer joins us for a rather lyrical guest post on Bruno's sudden departure.
Inside the angry mind of a staffer...
June 30, 2008
Is it Karma?
Payback for snickering at a Governor and his hooker?
Penalty for praising the Lord my boss didn't have a secret family?
It seems simple. Albeit abruptly, he retired.
And, like a break up, there are many unanswered questions.
Politics is a passion. A game of loyalty above all else.
Staffers mold their lives around their elected.
It's the power that intoxicates them and the job that becomes them.
An incestuous relationship by nature of shared passion.
Lobbyists, consultants and coworkers are friends, playmates and lovers.
The office, receptions and event venues are all extensions of home.
We are comfortable at home, we are ourselves at home.
The electeds rely on us to make them look good at home.
Content, policy, strategy, a pocket full of mints and directions to the loo.
Preparation is often cumbersome but it shows commitment.
The capacity for knowledge shows growth, and loyalty is proof of the commitment.
Electeds thrive on our diligence, instinct and foresight.
While they selfishly wrap in position, perception, and "service."
But what of those who serve them?
Years of dedication rewarded with.. not a phone call, an email.. but news reports.
We continue to make guesses and speculate on our own futures.
For the devoted staffer, like Katherine of Aragon Queen of England, in the end it was both love and loyalty... to a fault.
Life is full of surprises.
RIP faithful staff, take care of yourself b/c you are on your own...
Hundreds Of Healthy Ground Zero Workers Exploiting Colleagues' Real Medical Issues To Scam NYC Out Of Money
The first detailed review of the medical records of nearly 10,000 ground zero workers who are suing New York City and its contractors suggests that many are not as sick as their lawyers have claimed, attorneys for the city say.
The city’s review, based on medical records submitted in federal court by the workers and their lawyers, found that as many as 30 percent of the workers reported nothing more than common symptoms like runny nose or cough. Their records, according to the review, did not indicate that doctors had ever diagnosed a specific disease.
In fact, more than 300 workers admitted in court documents that they were not ill at all.
Not only does this particularly lurid display of hyperlitigiousness threaten to drain resources that could be directed toward workers who are genuinely sick, but it serves to cast undue doubt on those workers' claims.
All of these folks were on the scene on 9/11 and/or during the dangerous rescue, recovery, and cleanup that followed. It's a little troubling that some of them now appear to be falsely cashing in on the suffering of others.
Feds Ready To Steamroll Spitzer Over Schtupergate
Karma seems determined to keep the overzealous prosecution ledger in balance.
The noose appears to be tightening around sex-crazed ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
The federal case against him is so strong that prosecutors had no interest in striking cooperation agreements with the ringleader of Spitzer's hooker-supplier, Emperors Club VIP, and his second in command, sources told The Post's Murray Weiss.
Prosecutors have records of Spitzer's transactions, phone records and taped conversations with Emperors Club, and are confident they need little more to nail him on charges that could include violating prostitution laws and money laundering, sources said. Probers are also said to be looking into whether he used campaign funds to pay for his pleasures.
A hooker booker who worked for Brener, Temeka Lewis, pleaded guilty in a cooperation agreement that requires her to testify about Spitzer's involvement with the ring and his alleged attempts to conceal payments for sex.
Spiderhomme Spotted Scaling New NYT Tower [Update: Copycat Climber Renders Stunt Less Impressive]
Fox News is showing live footage of the Alain Robert (aka "the French Spiderman") free-climbing the newly built 748-foot New York Times Building in midtown Manhattan. The close-ups reveal a conveniently ladder-like edifice, but the man's still untethered 50 stories high.
Looks like he's got about 3 stories to go.
Oh la vache.
Update: Sacrebleu! Looks like they've apprehended him before he got to the top. A hard-hat wearing cop just threw a strap around him, about 1 story shy of the roof.
Update: Oh, this is such a better story.
A second man climbed up the side of the New York Times' building on the West Side, just hours after a daredevil did the same stunt.
The New York Times reported on its City Room blog that the man was climbing on the south side of the building and as of 6:10 p.m., he was nine stories up.
He appeared to be moving at a slower rate than Alain Robert, an experienced climber who scaled the building eariler in the day.
Utterly stupendous. I'm choosing to envision the copycat as some ordinary Joe New Yorker who happened to pass by and wanted to show the professional French climber it's not so hard. But it sounds like the reality may be more complicated.
At moments during his ascent, the second climber appeared to slow and tire, and officers awaiting him shouted encouragements from the rooftop and even dangled a rope, which he did not take, police said.
Officers became concerned that the man might be an emotionally disturbed copycat, and he was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, according to police, who identified him as 32-year-old Renaldo Clarke of Brooklyn. There was no working phone number listed under his name and address.
Still, this man gets a parade.
And for the record, if the copycat did make it to the rooftop unaided, he actually completed the feat that Robert did not. They got the strap on him a good ten feet from the top.
There's the MSNBC report (of the first guy), via Ace.
"Albany Nights: The Ballad Of Eliot Spitzer" Coming To Bookstores and Theaters Near You
That's a working title, of course.
A book about the rise and stunning decline of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, co-authored by the makers of a book and documentary about the fall of Enron, is being published by Penguin Group (USA), Penguin imprint Portfolio announced Wednesday.
Peter Elkind, who helped write the 2003 best-seller "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," is collaborating on the Spitzer book with filmmaker Alex Gibney. Gibney and Elkind will also work on a documentary about the law-and-order Democrat who resigned last month over allegations about his connection to a $5,500-an-hour call girl ring.
The book and film, currently untitled, are expected to come out around the same time, but no release date has been set.
So long as they'll be probing the salaciousness for entertainment purposes, I wonder if they'll take a second look at Spitzer's involvement in the Norman Hsu scandal. After all, none of the 80-some politicians on Hsu's payroll took more money from the man directly than Client #9. With more than $60,000 in direct contributions, Spitzer's share of Hsu's official beneficence nearly tripled even Hillary's.
Ashley Dupre Learned a Trick Or Two From Her Gubernatorial Trick
It seems Eliot Spitzer's call girl has a beef with Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis. And in a move certain to make Client #9 beam with pride, she's taking him to court in pursuit of exorbitant self-enrichment.
The lawsuit seeks more than $10 million in damages. In legal documents, Dupré alleges that Girls Gone Wild representatives approached her while she was vacationing in Florida in 2003, offered her alcohol and cajoled her into exposing her breasts for their cameras when she was just 17 (and not of proper legal age to sign a release form allowing her to be filmed).
Since then, the suit claims, Girls Gone Wild has illegally exploited Dupré's name, picture, voice and likeness in a number of deceptive ad campaigns and on Web sites.
Francis said he was "surprised and in fact amazed" by the lawsuit, noting he has not released new video of Dupré "due to corporate policy of not using footage of individuals younger than 18" and asserting she gave her consent on video, providing identification.
"She's seeking $10 million for topless photos taken in front of a room full of people, including two newspapers and multiple crews we had in the room," adds Francis. "These images were taken in public places and contain no sexual contact. We expect to triumph in this matter."
NYC Councilman of Unknown Party Diverting Cash To Shyster Buddies and Staffers
New York City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate has some splaining to do.
Hiram Monserrate, a city councilman from Queens, has supplied more than $400,000 in city funds in recent years to a nonprofit agency that has been run by some of his closest aides and whose financial records have devolved into what its current director calls “a mess.”
The organization, Libre, which offers a wide array of programs and services for the Latino community, has not filed a tax return for the past two years. It has never registered as a charity with the state attorney general’s office, as required. And its director says unpaid bills and poor record-keeping grew so problematic that he had to all but shutter Libre last year.
“Libre is a mess,” said Rodolfo Herrera, the director. “I don’t think it’s a mess because they were stealing money. I think it’s because they didn’t know what to do with paper.”
The millions of dollars that council members dole out to community groups each year rarely received attention until last month, when it was revealed that the Council had been using the names of fictitious groups to park money that it could later spend without going through the normal budget review process.
Beyond the dirty favors, misappropriations of taxpayer money, abuse of non-profit status, and the other trappings of typical shady spending, Monserrate's gilding of Libre may have had a directly self-dealing component.
Until November, Libre operated out of a two-story building on National Street in Corona, where neighbors said the organization sometimes held evening English classes but generally opened for only part of the day and rarely had more than three people working.
The building’s superintendent, Ismail Gaiby, said the office grew more crowded when Libre sponsored voter registration drives, which he said were often attended by Mr. Monserrate.
For sake of posterity and thoroughness, I'd like to be able to disclose Monserrate's party affiliation, but nowhere in the Times' 1,500-word story is it mentioned. And if the Paper of Record and the 6 reporters who worked on the story were stumped, I wouldn't presume to be able to crack it.
Stoopidest Movie Of the Year
It’s the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop and wafting with the sweet aroma of marijuana—but change is in the air. The newly-inaugurated mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is beginning to implement his anti-fun initiatives against “crimes” like noisy portable radios, graffiti and public drunkenness. Set against this backdrop, Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) spends his last summer before college selling dope throughout New York City, trading it with his shrink (Ben Kingsley) for therapy, while crushing on his step daughter (Olivia Thirlby). Famke Janssen, Mary Kate Olsen,and Method Man round out the cast in this edgy, bittersweet, and funny coming of age story.
What an asinine premise.
It won the audience award at Sundance this year, I guess because Giuliani was still in the race at that point and the film set enjoyed the idea of a hit piece on the possible nominee.
I'm not sure the "anti-fun" label would've stuck though. Cracking down on petty crime was a key component in Giuliani's very successful initiative to reduce serious crime (and not being mugged is all kinds of fun).
If there's really a significant subculture that feel oppressed for not being able to do drugs and vandalize property as easily as they used to, how must they feel about the nanny state measures that have been adopted under Bloomberg - like banning styrofoam, spinning rims, the n- word, the b-word, the h-word, iPods in intersections, trans fats, cigarettes (even the candy kind), aluminum bats, and the circus, to name a few?
Groan. Watch the thick-witted trailer here.
Bracing For the Race War; Councilman Barron, Please Report To Makeup
The NYPD officers involved in the shooting death of Sean Bell outside a Queens strip club in November 2006 have been found not guilty of manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver were acquitted of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the shooting death of 23-year-old Sean Bell outside the Kalua club in the South Jamaica section of Queens. Marc Cooper was found not guilty of reckless endangerment.
Outside the courthouse, news of the verdict caused the crowd that had gathered there to begin chanting obscenities at the more than 100 police and court officers posted outside the building.
[New York Supreme Court Justice] Cooperman rendered his verdict after a seven-week trial in Kew Gardens. More than 50 prosecution and six defense witnesses testified.
Witnesses said that, at about 4 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2006, Bell was arguing with a man outside the strip club. Isnora, dressed in plain clothes, claimed he heard mention of a gun in the argument and followed Bell and two of his friends to their car and stood in front of it with his gun drawn.
Oliver, 36, who allegedly fired his gun 31 times, and Isnora, 29, who fired 11 times, faced as much as 25 years in prison. Cooper, 40, faced as much as a year in prison. Prosecutors said he fired his gun four times.
No word yet from New York City Councilmember and New Black Panther Charles Barron, who has endeavored tirelessly to inspire the city's black population to spark a violent race war with the police, if justice (as he predetermined it) did not prevail in this case.
In late 2006 and early 2007, there were several rallies held throughout the city (often headlined by Barron) in which the elected official was unmistakable in his desire to see black New Yorkers visit physical violence on police officers. As it turned out, two of the four officers involved in the shooting were black, though Barron didn't let that get in the way of his insistence that the shooting was racially motivated. In Barron's eyes, those are simply "house Negroes who will shoot us at the behest of their masters."
Below is video I captured at one such rally and a partial transcript of the radical legislator's comments.
What we need here is a regime change. What we need here is a radical, up, down, turn upside down – this police department is out of control.
Any time, in any institution in America, racism permeates every institution in America. And the police department is no exception. And we don’t care whether the shooters were Black, Latino, because the Negroes who were in – the house Negroes during slave time, they were Black too. But slavery is still racist. So just because we got some house Negroes that will shoot us at the behest of their masters, once some of those police officers joined the police department, White, Latino or Black, they all turned blue. And because the victims are Black, we are under a racist, out of control police department.
I don’t care what they say about me. They say Charles, you’re a [undecipherable] radical. Charles, if you call for an explosion, that I’m the one that’s calling for violence. Let me tell you something. We need to let the system know that they have to fear us. They have no fear for us. And once you put the fear into some people’s hearts, whether it’s politically, economically, or physically, they will leave you alone.
So brothers and sisters, I want to say to you today, just as we said over and over again, if we don’t get justice in this case, don’t ask us to demonstrate again. If we don’t get justice in this case don’t tell us to be cool, to be calm.
Don’t blame me, as a social forecaster, for forecasting an explosion, just like you don’t blame the weatherman for forecasting the storm.
We’ll let everybody know that we’ve had enough. Enough is enough is enough. We’re fired up. We won’t take no more.
Barron was reportedly outside the courthouse this morning, so I don't think we'll have to wait long before he starts "forecasting" again.
Like Die Hard, Only Boring
I can't imagine another ordeal that could be simultaneously so worrisome and so soul-smotheringly boring.
A quick cigarette break by Business Week employee Nicholas White turned into a nightmare when his elevator stopped dead in its shaft and trapped him there for a crazy 41 hours—all of it caught on a security camera.
White got into elevator car 30 to return to his office in the McGraw-Hill building on Sixth Avenue in New York. It was an express elevator, designed for traffic efficiency, with no stops below the 30th floor, and it jammed around the 13th late on a Friday night. ... Faced with a blind wall behind the doors, no answer to the alarm or shouting and a locked hatch, he got desperate then depressed.
He was just stuck in a box barely big enough to lie down in. Rescue finally came 41 hours later, and no one knows why the jam happened. The crazy part? Eight different security guards failed to spot him on the camera.
This took place more than eight years ago, but The New Yorker has just put up a time-lapse video of White's plight (as captured by the security cameras no one was bothering to monitor), so you can experience his 2-day descent into ennui in internets time.
Content warning: even sped up 1,000x, it's still pretty tedious.
Separation Of Powers, New York Style - Part II
We've only had three days to digest the news of the chief judge of New York suing the state legislature for not raising judicial salaries (or rather, for attempting to tie judicial raises to raises for themselves).
If that wasn't litigiously bizarre enough, today we learn that State Supreme Court Justice Jack Battaglia is jumping across the bar as well, by bringing a $1 million slip-and-fall suit against New York State (and a janitor).
A politically connected Brooklyn judge plans to file a $1 million lawsuit against the city after slipping on a just-mopped floor in his own courthouse, the Daily News has learned.
Supreme Court Justice Jack Battaglia - who hears civil cases and earns $136,000 a year - is even targeting the courthouse cleaning lady who wielded the mop, according to legal papers.
The judge fractured his knee in the Nov. 9, 2007, tumble outside room 452 and was forced to undergo surgery and physical therapy.
In his Jan. 31 notice of claim, Battaglia accuses the city of "negligently using a mop bucket and wringer" and "negligently using a mop and soapy water" to create a "dangerous and hazardous traplike condition."
Battaglia, who is the brother of Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez's girlfriend, did not return a call for comment. Lopez also couldn't be reached.
Battaglia's sister Angela is also New York's City Planning Commissioner. She and cohabitational beau Assemblyman Lopez have, as the Daily News put it, "occasionally drawn fire from snoopy journalists who contend the duo uses its combined clout to win friends and pork-barrel funding from City Hall and Albany."
Previously: Separation Of Powers, New York Style
Separation Of Powers, New York Style
Perhaps envious of the dignity and decorum with which the state's executive branch oozes, New York's judicial and legislative branches have engaged each other in a terribly dignified slap fight.
The state's chief judge [Judith Kaye], having failed to persuade the Legislature to grant her a pay raise, is bringing her battle before a fellow state judge, filing a lawsuit asking him to give himself, herself, and their colleagues pay raises of tens of thousands of dollars each.
It all sounds rather self-dealing, but in fact it was the legislature's self-dealing ways that prompted the suit.
It all sounds rather self-dealing, but in fact it was the legislature's self-dealing ways that prompted the suit.
Repeated efforts in Albany to boost judicial pay have foundered because legislators have linked the question of pay raises for judges to pay raises for themselves. "This situation is not only untenable and disgraceful, it is unconstitutional," the complaint states.
New York Supreme Court judges are paid $139,600 per year, a salary that hasn't increased in nine years. Adjusting for inflation, that amounts to a 21% pay cut, which the suit alleges violates the state's constitutional provision that judges' salaries "shall not be diminished."
The Republican-led State Senate has already passed legislation that would increase judges' salaries, while the Democrat-led Assembly has yet to get on board.
The Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno, responded to news of the suit with a statement. "Judges don't need to sue to get a pay raise, they need to step up pressure on the State Assembly to act on either of two judges' salary increase bills already approved by the State Senate," he said. "Last April, the Senate passed a bill (S.5313) that included Chief Justice Kaye's pay raise proposal. It would provide salary increases for state justices and establish commissions to review future compensation. In December, the Senate passed a nearly identical bill (S.6550) to raise judges' pay. The Assembly did not act on these, or any other, judges' pay raise bill. If it had, this issue could have been resolved long ago."
S5313 was a nearly perfect party line vote, with 33 of 34 Senate Republicans and just 1 of 28 Senate Democrats voting for the pay raise.
No One Mourns the Wicked
Based on new revelations following new prostitution ring busts, Ashley Dupre is beginning to look like Eliot Spitzer's Paula Jones - just the tip of a much larger, discreet and totally classy, exotic iceberg. (HT: JWF)
Disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been identified as a long-standing client of a second high-priced call-girl ring, The Post has learned.
The ex-governor regularly patronized Wicked Models, the Manhattan-based operation taken down Tuesday, according to financial documents and other evidence unearthed in a yearlong prostitution investigation, law-enforcement sources said.
At the center of the new ring is Kristin "Billie" Davis, a busty bottle blonde who hails from a [r]ough-and-tumble California trailer park. She has a reputation for hard-partying, shameless self-promotion and a rumored 10,000-name-long client list.
Davis' alleged multimillion-dollar empire was smashed by city vice cops as she made plans to skip town. Prosecutors say she netted some $2 million last year by pimping out ladies of the night for as much as $1,000 an hour through four Web sites.
Davis, 32, pleaded not guilty to money laundering and promoting prostitution in Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday and was held on $2-million bail. She faces 15 years in prison if convicted of running the ring, which also allegedly operated the Madison La A'mour and New York Body Miracle agencies.
The cynic in me (tragically jaded by revelations that the puritanical, prosecutorially merciless chief law enforcement official of New York State would (allegedly) so flagrantly trample state and federal laws) feels regrettably compelled to assign non-zero odds to the possibility that the ex-Governor might have been assisting Billie in her preparations to skip town.
After all, she wasn't just Spitzer's madam, according a truly gifted euphemist.
A source said Davis personally serviced Spitzer.
"She personally interfaced with Spitzer a number of times" since 2003 before she became a madam, a source close to Davis said.
Veeramuthu "Kali" Kalimuthu: 2008's NYC Subway Hero
Veeramuthu Kalimuthu -- or Kali – is a mechanic at Columbia University. His recent actions make him a hero in the truest sense of the word. ... At around 5 p.m. that day he headed to the downtown No. 1 train at 116th Street in Morningside Heights to go home to Jamaica.
A man had fallen onto the tracks from the opposite platform, all the way on the other side of the station.
"People were getting their cell phones out trying to call the police, somebody's got to help him and then I looked over and I saw the gentlemen Kali jump down, hop over the rails," said witness Ed Dijoseph, who brought Kali's story to CBS 2 HD.
Kali made it across three sets of tracks, and knew about the three third rails, which are electrified with 600 volts -- enough to push a 400-ton train.
Just getting to the man was hard enough, but once he got to him he had to deal with the fact that the victim was a good 30-40 pounds heavier than he was. Kali is just 5-foot-5 and 150 pounds. Add to that the fact that at 5 p.m. rush hour trains come through that section of track every three minutes.
"He was trying to lift the guy up, but he was struggling because the guy who fell was bigger than him," Dijoseph said.
With the help of someone on the platform, Kali hoisted the guy up.
"I think within a minute after he got the man up the train heading Uptown came by," Dijoseph said. "If Kali hadn't moved him I truly … I really believe that the train would've killed him."
Early last year, Autrey wound up with some very decent loot following his dramatic subway save (in which he jumped to the tracks and lay on top of a man suffering convulsions, while the train passed over them), including:
- The Bronze Medal (New York City's highest civic honor)
- Appearances on David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, and CBS's "Early Show" (video here)
- $10,000 in cash from Donald Trump
- $2,500 from the New York Film Academy for his daughters' education
- Tickets and a backstage tour for "The Lion King"
- A trip to Disney World
- A year of free subway rides
Shtupergate: The Resignation
It was just a matter of time:
Spitzer Aide: More Correct To Say That He Is Not Resgining
It's hard to imagine a sentient, non-delusional being conceiving of a way that Eliot Spitzer can remain in office, but maybe this is a hail Mary trial balloon (to mix a metaphor) to gauge just how appalled the public might be to the thought of the Governor clinging to the office he so thoroughly and ironically disgraced.
Or maybe he just feels he needs to polish up this one and only bargaining chip to convince federal prosecutors he has to be coaxed into resignation.
A top aide to Governor Spitzer said today Mr. Spitzer has not made up his mind about whether to step down from office despite mounting calls for his resignation amid allegations that he arranged to meet with a $4,300-a-night prostitute in the nation's capital on the eve of Valentine's Day.
"He has not made up his mind," a senior adviser to Mr. Spitzer, Lloyd Constantine, said. "It is more correct to say that he is not resigning."
This, as new information comes to light suggesting Spitzer has been soliciting prostitution for at least the last six years and possibly more than ten (i.e. throughout the duration not only of his short tenure as Governor, but of both four-year terms as New York's Attorney General).
(HT: Ben Smith)
Shtupergate: Shtup By Numbers
As we enter the 436th and likely final day of the rollicking Spitzer administration, Zubin Jelveh at the Odd Numbers blog takes a look at the economics of high-end prostitution, as evidenced by the Emperors Club's pay scale and service quality distribution.
To Jelveh, something doesn't add up.
According to the complaint filed against the prostitution ring which serviced Eliot Spitzer, the owners of the Emperors Club brought in at least $1 million in revenue over roughly a 3-year period.
Let's assume that the Emperors Club and the prostitutes split the proceeds 50-50, so there is another million dollars out there that went to the roughly 80 women. That means that over the three-year period, the call girls earned about $12,5000 each on average, or a little over $4,000 per-year.
So why are these women choosing careers that don't pay them as much as a legal job? It could that getting paid for sex is a part-time gig which brings in supplementary income. Or it could be that not all of the money earned by the Emperors Club is deposited into the bank account tracked by the F.B.I. This could mean that the $1 million gross revenue figure is an understatement.
I'd guess it could also mean that the $1 million figure cited several times in the federal complaint with regard to prostitution receipts, money laundering, etc. is deliberately conservative, perhaps siginificantly so 1) to ensure the complaint remains accurate and unimpugned as various numbers shift around upon further investigation, 2) because $1 million is a big enough number to make the point, 3) because it's a big round number, and 4) possibly because some greater crime or aggravating condition might be triggered at that threshold, so exceeding it - by however much - becomes the key point.
Either way, I tend to agree with Jelveh's latter hypothesis - that the Emperors Club was generating considerably more than $1 million in annual revenues.
Previously: From Troopergate To Shtupergate
Update: On a related note, Slate.com offers business tips for aspiring high-class fleshmongers gleaned from the Emperors Club website, including:
Exploit all possible revenue streams. Most brothels stick to selling sex. Emperors' Club has a more diverse business model. Alongside the hooker portfolios, there's a page inviting companies to advertise on emperorsclubvip.com. (To inquire about rates, please e-mail email@example.com). The site promises access to a well-heeled clientele, noting that members' gross annual income averages $3.63 million per year. Perhaps Spitzer received some kind of financial aid—his annual salary is a scant $179,000.