Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who is politically responsible for obstructing the work of the Moreland Commission ?

PUBLISHED : THURS, 10 APR 2014, 10:26 AM
UPDATED : SUN, 13 APR 2014, 08:03 PM

Andrew Cuomo photo andrew-cuomo-smiles-jpg-alg_zps9d0cdc97.jpg

The culture of corruption up in Albany mirrors the cultures in Washington and New York City, and the lax justice departments at each level of government play politics with justice, except for one man, Preetinder Bharara

Journalist superhero Matt Taibbi was interviewed by Leonard Lopate on WNYC earlier this week during which Mr. Taibbi said that our broken justice system allows "massively destructive fraud by the hyper-wealthy to go unpunished, while it turns poverty itself into a crime." But Mr. Taibbi doesn't even address who politicizes the wide swath of city, state, and federal prosecutors that renders our justice system so broken.

The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Preetinder Bharara, has asked the press to step up their investigation work against a backdrop of Justice Department budget cuts made by the White House and Congress. On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's most recent state budget stripped valuable resources from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, leaving him with fewer resources to fight corruption. In another controversial move in the same budget deal that further undercut the state's important prosecutorial work, Gov. Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission, a public corruption investigation panel tasked with cleaning up government across New York state. More locally, the corrupt DA in Manhattan, Cy Vance, can't keep running for office without the consent of the Manhattan Democratic Party chair ; same for the other county prosecutors in New York City. That approval acts as a backdoor check on what kind of corruption cases the county DA's can bring, because the DA's have to be mindful not to investigate corrupt political operatives and supporters, who are loyal to the county chairs. Look at how all this corruption happens all over New York City, but nobody ever gets prosecuted by the Manhattan DA's office.

With these conditions undermining our justice system, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, like the hero in "High Noon," is forced to rescue almost single-handedly a town from crooks, who are about to lay siege. Indeed, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bharara is going to take possession of all of the Moreland Commission’s case files, or whatever is left of them. "Staff members of the panel, several said, regularly deleted emails and often communicated with BlackBerry messages not recorded on government servers," the article in The New York Times noted.

Gov. Cuomo’s obstruction of the Moreland Commission's work, some bloggers said, represented politically-motivated machinations to prevent the potential for an embarrassment for the governor during an election year, particularly since the Moreland Commission had subpoenaed records from some of the governor's shady political supporters, such as those in the corrupt real estate industry known for making big money campaign contributions in exchange for zone-busting approvals and huge tax breaks. Examples of how Gov. Cuomo obstructed the investigations of the Moreland Commission included actions by Lawrence Schwartz, the governor’s secretary, and Mylan Denerstein, Gov. Cuomo’s counsel, who each "would routinely call and say, ‘How can you issue a subpoena like this?’ or ‘These people shouldn’t be on it,’" a Moreland Commission member told The New York Times. Further complicating the Moreland Commission's own work was the fact that one of its co-chairs, Bill Fitzpatrick, an upstate district attorney, publicly disavowed the investigation panel's crucial role in busting up public corruption in New York state. Another panel co-chair, Kathleen Rice, a district attorney from Long Island, ditched her responsibilities on the Moreland Commission once she had gained enough fame to run for Congress.

And to make it more painful, the whole focus of the justice system has become deliberately distracted with the failed "broken windows" theory of law enforcement by such discriminatory police commissioners, such as New York City's William Bratton. But who makes these decisions ? It's one thing for Mr. Taibbi to point out that this paradox exists. But where is the community pressure to appropriate political blame for these misplaced priorities ? Who defunds the Justice Department and the state Attorney General's office ? Who disbands the Moreland Commission ? Who appoints irresponsible police commissioners to lead the troubled NYPD ? Which legislative bodies consent to all this ?

What's plainly missing is rolling up political responsibility for these failures to politicians. People have to fully engage/challenge the corrupt political system in order to reform these failures. There is no other way, and, like our hero Sheriff Preet is demonstrating, there is no short cut.

2014-04-01 Moreland Commission - Follow-Up E-Mail Re Pitta Bishop USAO

Letter From U S Attorney Preet Bharara Re Moreland Commission Investigations 2 by katehinds

Letter From U S Attorney Preet Bharara Re Moreland Commission Investigations by katehinds

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