Monday, June 30, 2014

Another campaign consultant tied to Council Speaker Mark-Viverito in still yet another controversy

The Hispanic Federation received more than $830,000 in FY2015 City Council Slush Funds. The charity was founded and is represented by a partner of the MirRam Group political consultanting firm, which is close to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.


Charity tied to New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito quadruples its funding (Crains New York Business)

More questions about Melissa Mark-Viverito's campaign finances and her lobbyists (NYC : News & Analysis)

IN THE NEW CITY BUDGET, the New York City Council, headed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, has steered over $830,000 to a charity with close ties to one of her chief campaign consultants, Crains New York Business reported.

The charity, the Hispanic Federation, was founded and is represented by Luis Miranda, a partner of the MirRam Group. The MirRam Group advised Councilmember Mark-Viverito's reelection race for her City Council seat, and it "quietly provided assistance in the midst" of Councilmember Mark-Viverito's speakership race, according to the Crains New York Business report. The disclosure of expenditures of Councilmember Mark-Viverito's speakership race fails to show that the speakership campaign committee ever paid the MirRam Group for their services, an apparently similar arrangement that Councilmember Mark-Viverito's speakership campaign had with The Advance Group.

A potential conflict of interest comes to the fore with respect to the City Council allocation of slush funds to the Hispanic Federation in that the MirRam Group lobbied the City Council, including Speaker Mark-Viverito, for the funding.

Moreover, the large allocation to the Hispanic Federation may invoke "veal pen" concerns. The Hispanic Federation is a fund of funds-type structure, which means it uses its resources to fund other Hispanic charities. Will the Hispanic Federation only fund groups that express their loyalty to Speaker Mark-Viverito ?

Furthermore, the slush fund allocation to the Hispanic Federation has a potential to move circuitously back to the MirRam Group, according to the Crains New York Business article. The Hispanic Federation retains the MirRam Group on an $8,500 monthly arrangement. Over the years, the Hispanic Federation has paid over $600,000 to the MirRam Group and to another firm "registered to Mr. Miranda and his wife," according to a 2012 report by The New York Post.

The circuitous flow of slush funds that "pass through" charities and into the pockets of lobbyists with close ties to the Council Speaker.

Former Speaker Christine Quinn began earmarking slush funds to the High Line park before she became Council Speaker, and those and other budget allocations overlapped with the High Line park retaining the lobbying services of Bolton-St. Johns, a firm headed by former Speaker Quinn's best friend, Emily Giske. To close the circuitous loop of money, real estate developers, who stood to make tens of millions of dollars, if not more, from the gentrification that the High Line park ushered in, turned around and made large campaign contributions to Speaker Quinn's campaign committee accounts.

For years, good government groups have asked that the City Council slush funds either be eliminated entirely or to be reformed to prevent the politicization of the controversial budget allocations, so that there are no pay-to-play, conflicts of interest, or quid pro quo aspects to how the slush funds are divided up by the Council Speaker.

Now that Crains New York Business has brought the role of campaign consultants to the fore, the city's Campaign Finance Board and the Department of Investigation must investigate the appearances of corruption. If the potential established pattern of criminality in these cases consist of violations of local or state law but involve the investigation and prosecution of significant political or government individuals, who may pose special problems for the local prosecutor, then federal prosecutors must lead the charge.

Has Facebook become full of shit ?

Delete your Facebook account and never look back.


Facebook's massive psychology experiment likely illegal (Boing Boing)

Facebook will treat you like a lab rat, until you close your Facebook account (CNN Money)

THE TROUBLED SOCIAL MEDIA GIANT Facebook was exploiting the News Feeds for hundreds of thousands of its members as part of a sick and twisted psychology experiment to study how emotions travel through social networks.

When people joined Facebook, they thought that they would be sharing their vacation photographs and every day thoughts with their friends. But now, Facebook is manipulating its members' News Feeds in order to study the psychologies of their members. Is this what social media was supposed to be about ?

“Doing psychological testing on people crosses the line,” Brian Blau, a technology analyst with the research firm Gartner, told The New York Times.

Delete your Facebook account and never look back.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seeking to fluff his sagging reelection campaign, Gov. Cuomo exploits AIDS epidemic for votes

PUBLISHED : SUN, 29 JUN 2014, 07:52 PM
UPDATED : MON, 30 JUN 2014, 12:10 PM

It's been 25 years since Andrew Cuomo led the charge on an AIDS initiative.


Cuomo Plan Seeks to End New York’s AIDS Epidemic (The New York Times)

Gov. Cuomo is paying for the stepped up fight against AIDS by having first made radical cuts to Medicaid and and by hospital closings.

This week-end, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State by the year 2020.

How nice of him to revisit the AIDS crisis after a 25 year sabbatical. The last time Andrew Cuomo spearheaded an AIDS initiative was in 1989, when he led the charge to build a segregated health facility for people with AIDS.

This was at a time when there was a rise in AIDS phobia, and it seemed like putting people with AIDS into isolation or in sub-par health facility situations was another form of reactionary discrimination.

It's difficult to know how much money Gov. Cuomo is dedicating to his plan to end AIDS. In an article in The New York Times, the Cuomo administration said $5 million has been set aside from Medicaid and the state's AIDS Institute. But according to information on the Housing Works Web site, the Cuomo administration proposed to cut $12 million from the AIDS Institute in the new budget. Ooops !

It's great that Gov. Cuomo wants to join with healthcare activists to end the AIDS epidemic. But, the last time Gov. Cuomo made healthcare promises, he promised to save hospitals in Brooklyn. But then he let Long Island College Hospital close down. Ooops !

Besides people with AIDS, people of color have been calling on Gov. Cuomo to do the right thing on healthcare.

As a gay man, I'd love nothing more than to see an end to the AIDS epidemic. Why Gov. Cuomo's plan is coming 25 years too late, and why he's paying for it by closing more and more Brooklyn hospitals is not clear.

What is clear is that Gov. Cuomo's announcement was timed for today's Gay Pride Parade, giving the governor an opportunity to hand-out all these campaign-looking signs to parade supporters to hold up for the cameras.

How thoughtful.

He must be looking for votes.

But I wonder how many lives could have been saved if decades ago "LGBT for Cuomo" were the campaign signs being used, instead of "Vote for Cuomo, not the Homo."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Obama's obsession with NSA spying costing US corporations contracts, profits, and jobs

Are we watching the sunset of the U.S. technology industry ?


Citing Security Concerns Amid U.S. Spying Disclosures, German Government Ends Verizon Contract (The Wall Street Journal)

FOLLOWING REPORTS THAT the U.S. technology giant and National Security Agency partner Verizon was providing Internet services to the German Parliament, the German public exploded in outrage at the possibly of having their government's national security and privacy rights further violated by the U.S. government and by its technology partners. After NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the corrupt and unconstitutional spying programs of the United States, including by U.S. technology partners such as Verizon, the German government was forced to terminate its technology contract with Verizon.

It's not yet known the size of the financial loss to Verizon, or how many jobs will be lost as a result of the canceled German government technology contract. Many U.S. technology firms are having to privately grapple with the economic and political backlash to the on-going cooperation between U.S. technology firms and the U.S. spy agency.

"Microsoft Corp. General Counsel Brad Smith said last week the business troubles stemming from the Snowden leaks were "getting worse, not better." Cisco Systems Inc. Chief Executive John Chambers has said the disclosures have hurt sales in China. AT&T Inc. executives have said some of their international customers were being urged by overseas competitors to use non-American service providers." -- WSJ

Last winter, Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg called President Barack Obama to complain about the NSA spying programs. Mr. Zuckerberg's leaked his displeasure to the public as a growing movement of activists are exposing Facebook for its corrupt ''like'' advertising programs and for the creepy cyberstalking policies it carries out against its members, in addition to Facebook's role in being a core source for NSA surveillance activities.

Although the obstacles facing Facebook may be unique to its own troubled business premise, the reality is that many U.S. technology giants, including social media companies, are facing real political and economic blowback as a result of questions being raised by each of foreign governments and foreign businesses about the trustworthiness of U.S.-based sources for NSA spying and hacking, such as Verizon and Facebook. Not only are the NSA spying programs unconstitutional and are going to lead to serious costs to the U.S. legal system, as civil rights and civil liberties activists clog the system with their noble efforts to rightly restore basic Constitutional principles to the wayward American spying framework, but now the NSA spying programs are going to have a financial cost to the economy, too.

And all, on President Obama's watch.

Friday, June 27, 2014

de Blasio spox tells PR underlings about "combative media environment," advises "attack" strategy to control media coverage

de Blasio administration PR staff told to "attack" the media in "incredible" and "truly historic" pep talk


Following bombardment of bad press, Mayor de Blasio spinning his way back to illusion of competency (NYC : News & Analysis)

'We need to attack, not react,' de Blasio press secretary tells PR staff in pep talk (The New York Daily News)

de Blasio's idea of government controlled media photo de-Blasio-Goverment-controlled-media-400px-export_zpsc920bbad.jpg

Mere weeks after Ginia Bellafante excoriated the de Blasio administration's record of accomplishment in a Sunday edition of The New York Times, the mayor's spokesman, Phil Walzak, strikes back !

“We need to attack, not react – no bunker mentality,” City Hall Press Secretary Phil Walzak said at a Thursday gathering of about 50 city agency PR staffers, according to a tipster to The New York Daily News, adding, "Be aggressive. Tell your story loudly and proudly," before he noted that, "We live in a very combative media environment."

Mr. Walzak's instructions to "attack" the media came the same week when the de Blasio administration continued to deny reporters access to the police arrest report for City Hall supporter Bishop Orlando Findlayter, even though the court system reached a disposition of Bishop Findlayter's case in his favor, as City Hall expected.

Bishop Findlayter peaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for being sentenced to time served.

Apparently, denying Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, requests is now part of City Hall's efforts to "attack" and "control" the media.

Is the de Blasio administration afraid of being held accountable for delivering on a progressive reform agenda that combats public corruption ?

Many New York City-based political bloggers and reform activists wonder if Mayor de Blasio's new-found aggression towards media scrutiny of his administration has anything to do with the public corruption scandals playing out right now from City Hall all the way up to Albany.

Wave of ethics scandals threatens to engulf Queens Library, and its leadership

PUBLISHED : FRI, 27 JUN 2014, 12:17 PM
UPDATED : SAT, 28 JUN 2014, 09:24 AM

Not even Councilmembers with former leadership posts at the corrupt Queens Library can reign in rampant public corruption at the troubled lending library

Jimmy Van Bramer photo jimmy-van-bramer-ny1-600px-export_zps2661cbc1.jpg


Sack them all : Bye-bye to Queens Library chief Tom Galante — and the board members who enabled his reign of greed (The New York Daily News)

Queens Public Library trustees plan to remove Thomas Galante as director — then give him consulting job that pays $800G (The New York Daily News)

Gov. Cuomo signs bill to reform operations at embattled Queens library system (The New York Daily News)

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer explodes at colleagues over charges he's too close to corrupt Queens Library President Thomas Galante (The New York Daily News)

Just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an emergency bill into law, giving Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz powers to remove from office the corrupt Trustees of the troubled Queens Borough Public Library, the Editorial Board of The New York Daily News published a scathing editorial, encouraging the mayor and the Queens beep to do exactly that.

The Editorial Board wants the Queens Library Board of Trustees to be held accountable for the charges of corruption against the nonprofit's president, Thomas Galante.

"De Blasio and Katz must sack all those who aided and abetted Galante and appoint top-notch replacements, who will open the library’s internal workings under him to full scrutiny before paying him a penny."

Can the Queens Library survive this ethics and financial scandal ?

Jimmy Van Bramer with Thomas Galante of the Queens Library photo jimmy-van-bramer-thomas-galante-library-cuts_zpsaefb2d0c.jpg

Queens Library President Galante has seen his management of the lending library come under immense scrutiny once it was reported by The New York Daily News that he was earning nearly $400,000 per year, enjoying six-figure office renovations, and receiving other perks, including a reported $37,000 annual car allowance. Mr. Galante was seen as perversely milking the Queens Library dry at the same time that the lending library was laying off low-paid employees. A report in The New York Daily News indicated that the Queens Library has eliminated nearly 130 jobs over the past five years. Not even Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who formerly served in the leadership of the Queens Library, was able to hold his former colleagues accountable for the wave of ethics scandals that now threaten to engulf the Board Members of the troubled lending library.

Queens residents don't know how the Queens Library can survive a scandal of these proportions if its nonprofit trustees failed to each of keep a check on its governance, administer "normal" compensation for its executives, propose and award construction contracts based on sound business judgement, and reasonably determine other perks, such as the awarding of car allowances. According to a report by a library watchdog group, the Queens Library is "currently under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and city Department of Investigation."

Strategically-important community nonprofits in New York City, which have collapsed in recent years under governance and financial scandals, include the Bronx Community Pride Center and People of Color in Crisis, or POCC.

The swift passage of the Queens Library reform bill through the corrupt state legislature and Gov. Cuomo's swift enactment shows that there is a way for Albany to clean up public corruption in New York State. Many New York City-based political bloggers and reform activists wonder why does one lending library in Queens receive this kind of rapid response, but the public corruption scandals playing out right now from City Hall all the way up to Albany get no immediate legislative attention at all.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

No transparency on Democratic backroom deals in new State Senate coalition pact

A new alliance between New York State Senate Democrats and an obstructionist breakaway faction was negotiated behind closed doors.


New York State Senate Coalition Ends ; Independent Democrats Shun GOP as Threats of Primary Elections Loom Large (The Wall Street Journal)

Feds Won't Rule Out Cuomo-Moreland Probe (WNYC)

Real estate interests continue to open checkbooks for Bill de Blasio (Bill de Blasio Sold Out)

Democrats make a priority of taking back control of the State Senate over enacting long-overdue reforms to address Albany corruption and ethics scandals

Backroom deals negotiated by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will keep the same corrupt Albany politicians in office, although the mainstream media is spinning this sad state of affairs as a political win for state Democrats.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, highlighted the broken political system up in Albany that does nothing to fully address how a spree of political scandals can be traced back to a lack of government ethics reforms.

Indeed, Mr. Bharara criticized Gov. Cuomo for going soft on ethics reforms, and the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan refused to rule out a probe, if necessary, to determine whether Gov. Cuomo improperly interfered with, and later negotiated away the disbanding of, the Moreland Commission.

"We're going to look at the documents, we're going to see what the facts are, and if there are questions that are appropriate to ask...there are strong-willed and aggressive — but fair — people in my office who will ask those questions," Mr. Bharara said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

During Mr. Bharara's appearance on WNYC last April, he made the observation that it appeared that Gov. Cuomo may have bargained away the opportunity to bring about corruption and ethics reforms for short term political gain.

Fast-forward to this month, and it appears that Mayor de Blasio formed a pact with Gov. Cuomo for short-term political gain to form a new Democratic Party alliance in the State Senate that also overlooks the long-over due overhaul to the state's corrupt political system. Already, some reporters are printing observations that Mayor de Blasio is taking political credit for the new State Senate alliance, but the press refuses to acknowledge that the same corrupt politicians are staying in power.

Moreover, the new State Senate accord reached by Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo speaks nothing to the long string of political, campaign, and public corruption scandals playing out right now from City Hall all the way up to Albany.

One wonders whether now that Mayor de Blasio has gotten the same dirty Albany grime under his fingernails, if that means that by continuing to put reforms on the back burner in exchange for short-term political gains, then Mayor de Blasio is going to be fully seen as keeping the corrupt Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in power in one legislative house, even though Speaker Silver is second only to Gov. Cuomo to obstructing corruption and ethics reforms up in Albany.

Already, Mayor de Blasio is being seen by more and more reform activists as looking for opportunities to prioritize the scoring of cheap political points over reforms. Many mainstream reporters mock the mayor for describing routine City Hall announcements as "historic" and "transformative" that have no basis in reality. Furthermore, many independent political bloggers note how Mayor de Blasio's rhetoric about being a "progressive" neglects to address the need to enact underlying structural reforms to overhaul the broken political system here in New York City. Tellingly, one of the mayor's outstanding campaign promises that has never been mentioned since his inauguration is the mayor's promise made last summer to bring further reforms to the city's corruptible campaign finance system.

Sal Albanese looks at exploitation of LICH closure through political lens of post-Bloomberg New York

LICH Leftovers : Mayor de Blasio has been very quiet about the closure of Long Island College Hospital on his watch, outraging the community allies he exploited to use LICH as a campaign prop to get elected.


LICH Leftovers (The Huffington Post)

Sal Albanese photo Sal-Albanese-Handsome_zps7b39096c.jpg

"The powers that be back down from a public fight only to pull the plug in a backroom deal days later," wrote former New York City Councilmember Sal Albanese about the bitter fight to save Long Island College Hospital. Mr. Albanese's essay, published on The Huffington Post, is his second installment on the post-election political realities playing out in New York City. His first essay in this series was published earlier this month.

The allusion to backroom deals is a damning indictment of how Mayor Bill de Blasio has abdicated his public health policy responsibility to voters with LICH closing on his watch.

"But LICH already served its purpose as de Blasio's campaign prop," Mr. Albanese concluded, informing voters about how duplicitous Mr. de Blasio was in last year's mayoral campaign. Let's hope more voters read Mr. Albanese's writings and follow him on Twitter. Mr. Albanese's political analysis offers voters an unvarnished truth about how politics plays out in New York City -- sadly, often to the detriment of voters' demands for reforms.

Anna IDENTICI - "Quando m'innamoro"

The Italian singer and television personality Anna Identici sings her pop single hit cover of "Quando m'innamoro" from the 1960's.

More shady details emerge from Hynes-Matz scandal via Arzt deposition ; reform activists expect still yet more shady revelations

Hynes’ ex-spokesman Arzt testifies drug money advisor Matz held weekly meetings


Hynes’ ex-spokesman testifies advisor held weekly meetings (The New York Post)

George Arzt - Charles Hynes - Scott Levenson photo Arzt-Hynes-Levenson_zpsa4436581.jpg

What else did former D.A. Hynes' other campaign consultants know, and when did they know it ?

In a sworn testimony provided in a deposition on Monday, establishment campaign consultant George Arzt, the former spokesman for disgraced Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, stated that Mortimer Matz, the controversial campaign consultant reportedly paid for with cash proceeds from drug sales, attended D.A. Hynes' weekly campaign meetings.

These weekly campaign meetings included staff from the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, and Mr. Matz advised the doomed Hynes reelection campaign, Mr. Arzt stated.

Mr. Arzt was deposed on Monday, The New York Post reported, in connection with a $150 million lawsuit filed by Jabbar Collins. Mr. Collins man wrongfully convicted by former D.A. Hynes’ office and lost 15 years of his life locked up in jail, before he was finally exonerated.

Still yet to emerge from startling allegations that the former Brooklyn District attorney used his access to criminal forfeiture cash to reportedly pay for Mr. Matz's campaign consulting services is the truth about how much did D.A. Hynes' other campaign consultants know about this allegedly illegal arrangement. Besides Mr. Arzt, the controversial campaign consultant and lobbyist Scott Levenson of The Advance Group, also worked on D.A. Hynes' failed reelection campaign last year. For his consulting work and for the costs of printing campaign literature, Mr. Levenson's firm was paid over $600,000 from D.A. Hynes's official campaign committee. If reports are true, namely, that former D.A. Hynes used his access to criminal forfeiture cash to pay for Mr. Matz's services, then that would have left greater resources in D.A. Hynes' official campaign committee account with which to pay other campaign advisors, such as Mr. Arzt and Mr. Levenson.

Stay tuned . . . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

VOCAL-NY amongst CPR community groups receiving over $7 million in FY15 City Council slush funds

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) Logo photo CommunitiesUnitedforPoliceReformCPRLogo_zpsf0892575.png

Despite cheap "progressive" talk from mayor and new Council speaker, New York City Council is still disbursing speaker slush funds, even as one sitting Councilmember's funding had to be supervised due to pending corruption charges.


New York City Council Divvies Up $50 Million in Speaker Slush Funds (The Wall Street Journal)

Queens Councilman Ruben Wills arrested by Attorney General’s office in corruption probe (UPDATE) (Metro New York)

MMV Slush Funds Report For Fiscal Year 2015 Adopted Expense : Budget Adjustment Summary / Schedule C (New York

Slush funds allocated to VOCAL-NY include $25,000 for anti-Stop-and-Frisk workshops, even though Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned to end the "Stop-and-Frisk" era in NYPD policing.

Following the Veal Pen Workshop for police reform at the Left Forum 2014, some of the member groups belonging to a coalition known as Communities United for Police Reform, or CPR, were shown to have influence over the stalled social movement to press the New York City government to deliver police reforms. When one of the stalling member groups in the CPR coalition, VOCAL-NY, was pressed about their role in deliberately deescalating public pressure for police reforms, a VOCAL-NY director, Jennifer Flynn Walker, had a meltdown on Twitter after activists pressed whether City Council slush funds played a role in CPR easing off pressure on the de Blasio-Mark-Viverito administration.

"Professional" activists like Ms. Walker get a "seat at the table" next to powerholders, precisely because these "professional" activists accept government funding from the very politicians, who grassroots activists are targeting for legal reforms. Those government funding allocations come with implicit strings attached to not embarrass the politicians publicly, to not create any "scandals," and to settle for the low-bar "politics of the possible" that politicians, like Mayor Bill de Blasio, can deliver without upsetting his big money campaign donors.

Some police reform activists believe that the mayor announced his controversial pick for NYPD commissioner to placate nervous billionaire real estate developers, who want to keep seeing escalating New York City real estate prices. The only way real estate prices can keep spiraling up out of control is by keeping all the youths and people of color either locked up in school or locked up in jail.

Making do by accepting Mayor de Blasio's appointment of William Bratton as the new commissioner of the New York Police Department means that the City Council has to keep funding community programs to deal with police brutality and the violation of innocent people's rights.

Indeed, the slush funds allocated to VOCAL-NY include $25,000 that are intended to "provide Know Your Rights workshops to inform people of their legal rights during police encounters (including stop, question and frisk) and role play de-escalation strategies in order to stay safe and calm." (Emphasis Added)

VOCAL-NY FY15 MMV City Council Slush Funds - Including for anti-Stop-and-Frisk Work photo VOCAL-NYFY15MMVCityCouncilSlushFunds-Includingforanti-Stop-and-FriskWork_zpsb820b109.png

CPR member groups receiving FY15 slush funds are :

  -  Bronx Defenders : $1,636,000

  -  Legal Aid Society : $5,865,750

  -  New York City Anti-Violence Project : $186,755

  -  Streetwise & Safe : $10,000

  -  VOCAL-NY : $62,000

  -  Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice : $24,000

The controversial City Council practise of doling out slush funds was a hallmark issue in last year's mayoral campaign, and the slush fund allocations were used as an accusation of corruption against former Council Speaker Christine Quinn. According to her campaign promises, the new Council speaker, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, promised to bring reforms to the City Council never made possible under former Speaker Quinn's leadership. Alas, Speaker Mark-Viverito is using the shady distribution of slush funds to control strategic community groups for political reasons, which is no different from the motivations of her her predecessor.

It's not known why VOCAL-NY still needs $25,000 for workshops that will train people how to deal with police use of "Stop-and-Frisk," if Mayor de Blasio campaigned to end the "Stop-and-Frisk" era at the NYPD. The right thing for VOCAL-NY to do is to come forward to press the mayor to deliver the full range of reforms at the NYPD that he supposedly gave lip service to in last year's mayoral election.

Unless, of course, some of the CPR community groups are afraid to pressure the de Blasio-Mark-Viverito administration for the full range of legal reforms needed to end police brutality, violations of the Handschu Agreement, and other infringements of civil liberties and civil rights of innocent New Yorkers. For years, activist have wondered how could the City Council fund, on the one hand, police procedures that violate the Civil Rights Act protections of it citizens, at the same time when, on the other hand, the City Council is funding community groups for protection from police brutality ? What kind of duplicitous City Council budget are elected officials adopting ?

2014-05-31 Veal Pen (Left Forum) Contact Sheet (Twitter Handles) (FINAL)(2014-06-25 FY15 Schedule C Slush F... by Connaissable

Monday, June 23, 2014

Seeing as how mayor feeds off lobbyists, will they rename City Hall as Fangtasia ?

Surprised no tongue ?

In New York politics, a "one-politician-for-every-lobbyist" partnership is how the broken political system protects itself, if you were to sort of carry a True Blood analogy to reality.

 photo Fangtasia-de-Blasio-Capalino_zps3e281681.jpg

Does New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio seek out fang-bangers in the form of corrupt real estate lobbyists, in this case, James Capalino ? Is that a sign for Fangtasia in the background ?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Turning their backs on LICH, de Blasio and Cuomo stir up community and activist anger

Mayor de Blasio has gone back on his campaign promise to support "hospitals, not condos." And the governor, well, Gov. Cuomo has been trying to close Brooklyn hospitals from Day One.

Mayor de Blasio's staff encouraged community groups to accept the luxury condo conversion of LICH photo de_Blasio_LICH_MFrost_10-28-13_500layoffs_C_0_zps36c823e0.jpg


LICH closure causing growing political backlash in Brooklyn ; Mayor, Governor under pressure (The Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Healthcare As Bargaining Chips in New York City Politics // The Pelican Brief (NYC : News & Analysis)

Disappointment in Mayor Bill de Blasio is turning into community outrage as residents of Brooklyn come to grips with how the mayor's office waged a duplicitous campaign in regards to Long Island College Hospital, or LICH as it is better known.

Publicly, Mayor de Blasio was giving lip service to saving LICH, but privately, some community activists are now saying that the mayor's staff was trying to bully healthcare activists into supporting the closure of the hospital so that a large real estate developer could convert the complex medical campus into luxury condos.

The reality of the mayor's duplicitious nature, while shocking to grassroots activists, comes as no surprise to astute political observers of how the real corrupt nature of the broken political system works in New York City. Mayor de Blasio stormed into office during last year's mayoral election with the aid of a corrupt Super PAC undercuting his chief rival and with promises to provide a clean break from the Bloomberg-Quinn administration. The mayor's empty and meaningless campaign promises weren't made, because he believed in them, but because his campaign consultants knew that the electorate was desperate for change, and that this messaging would help him win the election -- a prediction that turned out to be correct, but that would not fix the broken political system, because that was never the de Blasio campaign's intention.

The latest revelation of the mayor's duplicitous administration comes from an article about LICH in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle :

Following SUNY’s announcement on Friday that it had reached an “agreement in principle” to sell the LICH campus in Cobble Hill to Fortis for development into condos, local officials representing the LICH catchment area issued a statement putting them on the opposite side of the fence with the Mayor, who pushed for the deal.

While campaigning on the theme of "hospitals, not condos," De Blasio has apparently moderated his stance since becoming Mayor, saying that an urgent care center and "stand-alone ER" planned for the site will preserve health care for northwestern Brooklyn. Sources told the Brooklyn Eagle that in February the Mayor's staff put pressure on the community groups fighting for LICH to support Fortis.

The growing political scandal over Mayor de Blasio's betrayal of his campaign promise to save LICH is just the latest example of how the economic realities will fracture Democratic unity : On the city level, nobody knows how the mayor will pay for expansion of pre-kinder, making good on union backpay demands, and fighting income inequality. On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will use pension IOU vouchers and hospital closings to pay for the $2 billion election year tax cut gimmicks needed to fluff his troubled re-election campaign. Caught in between are healthcare and other social needs reform activists, who are looking to the twin Democratic politicians of New York, asking, "Where's the liberal leadership we can count on ?"

But this fracturing of Democratic unity is only coming about because of how Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo have deceived voters into believing that the Democratic political elite can deliver an overhaul of the broken political system that never answers the demands made by communitys. The elite Democratic politicians will never deliver social, economic, or legal reforms when they are as beholdened to real estate developers as are Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo.

One of Gov. Cuomo's first acts in office was to empanel a controversial Medicaid Redesign Team that has instituted a scorched earth campaign of austerity cuts to the poorest New Yorkers, those who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. Part of the governor's austerity cuts was to push for the closure of full service hospitals, where the poor and the uninsured seek life-saving, but expensive, healthcare services. His controversial push for more hospital closings came on the heels of the controversial closure of St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, which is being now redeveloped into a $1 billion luxury condo and townhouse complex by the billionaire Rudin family. Because of income and wealth disparities, many of the state's poor people are concentrated in New York City, making it an easy target to close hospitals with a charity mission serving the poor and the uninsured. The governor's plan to cut healthcare costs to the poor was expanded under Obamacare, as more and more poor people qualified for Medicaid, a move that forced Gov. Cuomo to close even more charity hospitals. To augment hospital closings, the Obamacare expansion of the New York State Medicaid program makes it difficult for poor people to receive prescriptions for life-saving, but expensive, prescription medications, like cholesterol-fighting medications and other prescription medications for people with long-term diseases or disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome or other functional gastro-intestinal disorders. Against this backdrop of austerity cuts, the closure of LICH on Mayor de Blasio's and Gov. Cuomo's joint watch is opening the eyes of healthcare activists to the unseemly political reality that Demcoratic politicians, even those that self-annoint themselves as "progressives," are just as neoliberal in their need to make austerity cuts to the poor and to the sick as the former center-right administration of Michael Bloomberg and former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Furthermore, if Mayor Bill de Blasio was uncommitted to saving LICH from the start, in spite of his campaign demands for a moratorium on hospital closings, then this doesn't bode well for Interfaith Medical Center, also in Brooklyn, which has been targeted for closure, as well, by Medicaid Redesign Team hatchetman Stephen Berger and Gov. Cuomo.

Even as the 1199 healthcare union protests the job losses and healthcare cuts by corporate-minded CEO's, note that 1199 strong-armed the Working Families Party to endorse the re-election campaign of Gov. Cuomo, whose very own Medicaid Redesign Team implimented large-scale healthcare cuts, including the outsourcing to Mr. Berger the effort to keep closing city hospitals that have resulted in still yet further healthcare union job losses, not including the negative impact to public health.

How long will it take healthcare activists and other grassroots advocates fighting for unfinished healthcare reforms, such as the adoption of a single-payer healthcare system in New York state to replace Obamacare, before they wake up to see how the corrupt political operatives of some healthcare unions, drunk on the corrupt political Kool-Aid of "business as usual," keep neoliberal Democratic politicians in office, who have no intentions of ever delivering the healthcare reforms that the community demands ?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The parallel but opposite universe in the media's recounting of Melissa Mark-Viverito's speakership (thus far)

New York City Political Reporting Twilight Zone

Mission Accomplished Melissa Mark-Viverito MMV


No. 2 and Trying Harder : The Unlikely Rise of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (The New York Observer)

The Advance Group Kept Working on Melissa Mark-Viverito's Speakership Campaign Until the Very End (NYC : News & Analysis)

The Growing, Corruptive Role of Money and Lobbyists In NYC Politics Contravenes Progressive Values (NYC : News & Analysis)

A profile of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito published on The New York Observer Web site whitewashes her controversial bid for the Council speakership, noting that "a lack of controversy has characterized her tenure so far," even though Councilmember Mark-Viverito's acceptance of free lobbying services, which is against the rules, played an important role in her selection as the Council speaker.

Does mainstream media reporting of New York City politics operate in The Twilight Zone ?

How could The New York Observer write that, "In the final weeks before she was voted speaker, no newspaper endorsed Ms. Mark-Viverito," but leave out the reasons that explain this situation ? While The New York Observer did make room in its profile to mention tabloid-like articles about voodoo hexes, a charge made by rivals, who absurdley implied that Councilmember Mark-Viverito commissioned Satanic murals with mixed motivations, but, somehow, The New York Observer conveniently left out the series of exposés in various newspapers, sometimes involving editorials by various boards of editors, ranging from The New York Daily News, amNewYork, Newsday, and The New York Times, each raising concerns about Councilmember Mark-Viverito's failure to declare any in-kind contributions in exchange for the valuable lobbying services that were provided to her speakership campaign all the way up until the very end ? Other ethics allegations, much minor in comparison, about Councilmember Mark-Viverito's failure to disclose rental income, were raised by various newspapers about Councilmember Mark-Viverito in the time leading up to her speakership selection, as well, yet those minor ethics violations were mentioned by The New York Observer, but the more serious allegations about undeclared in-kind campaign contributions and possible ethics violations regarding lobbyists, were not mentioned at all. It's not an unimportant occurance when many of the city's leading newspapers organically agree by raising questions about a speakership candidate's ethics. One single news outlet being an outlier might be a sign that a lobbyist planted a story. Howevr, when many news outlets (joined by several political bloggers) would agree about more serious campaign finance and ethics questions, that points to a serious issue, and it is fishy that The New York Observer would choose to leave that out.

The lobbying firm, The Advance Group, which played a large role in Councilmember Mark-Viverito's selection to become the City Council speaker, has been beseiged by investigations by the city's campaign finance regulatory authority and, reportedly, by the FBI over allegations of wrong-doing. Several of The Advance Group's clients have been fined by the city's campaign finance regulatory authority over inappropriate activities connected with last year's municipal elections, which marked the first time when the corrupt Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case opened the floodgates to corrupt Super PAC spending in the corrupt American election system.

Another question about The New York Observer's profile of Speaker Mark-Viverito include the assertion that she "represents the hard and relentless left of the City Council," but that is at odds with the Council speaker's support of William Bratton as NYPD commissioner, an appointment made by the mayor that is certainly not supported by activists in the city's "hard and relentless left."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sal Albanese Begins Examination Of Last Year's NYC Mayoral Race

Sal Albanese : "My opponents represented the who's who of political hacks, ineffective city officials, and faux progressives."

Sal Albanese photo Sal-Albanese_DeborahYun_2939-2012213_zps9bd815a0.jpg


Sal Albanese :
"Can a campaign of substance prevail ?" (Sal Albanese : "Swinging for the Fences : How and Why I Decided to Run for Mayor" * The Huffington Post)

In a suspensful introductory examination of last year's mayoral race in New York City, former Councilmember Sal Albanese hurtles a proverbial cannon shot across the political bows of the permanent government insiders.

"... Can a campaign of substance prevail ?

In posts to follow, I'll discuss why that question went unanswered and why the issues debated and the people debating them are so relevant to the future of the five boroughs."

Read the whole thing for a promising overview of the need to overhaul the broken political system in New York City.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A report back on activists, who expose and overcome the corrupt nonprofit industrial complex, puppet politicans, and veal pen bouncers

PUBLISHED : WED, 04 JUN 2014, 01:55 PM
UPDATED : SUN, 15 JUN 2014, 06:10 PM

FIRST NEWSLETTER : This week in the CPR veal pen #constantcontact (06 June 2014)

SECOND NEWSLETTER : Political Pressure for #NYPD Reforms #constantcontact #VealPen #MAPModel #Stage6 (10 June 2014)

Role of big special interest political donors, like George Soros, in Bill de Blasio's mayoralty, the veal pen, and the long pattern of failed political, LGBT, and nonprofit leadership

George Soros (World Economic Forum)

George Soros

In the last year, billionaire hedge fund investor George Soros has emerged as the 1% power player in New York City politics, having eclipsed former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Soros funds many liberal causes through foundation and charity structures, such as his Open Society Foundations, which triggers controversies from the Left as well as from the Right.

But Mr. Soros has not been satisfied with just funding groups from an arm's length distance. Rather, he appears to be crossing over into actual management of the political landscape of New York City by virtue of his grant-making. For example, his foundation funded Communities United for Police Reform, the primary umbrella organization that formerly called for police reform under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now, CPR, as the group is known, has become demobilized and no longer calls for police reform, in spite of the fact that reforms to end discriminatory and abusive policing have yet to be fully proposed and enacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio. After Mayor de Blasio was elected, Mr. Soros' foundation also partially funded a "town hall" style tent on Canal Street that was called "Talking Transition." More on that later.

George Soros Funded Bill de Blasio Talking Transition Tent photo Soros-Talking-Transition-Tent-Bill-de-Blasioexport_zps870c2861.jpg

Bill de Blasio

After he won the general election, Mr. de Blasio was criticised for holding very few public events. However, he used the "Talking Transition" tent for some brief remarks and a photo op. At his appearance, the then mayor-elect made a post-election promise to select a police commissioner, who could restore trust with New Yorkers after the disastrous reign of former Commissioner Raymond Kelly. More on that shortly.

The "Talking Transition" tent gave the impression that the de Blasio administration was going to actually process all the feedback it received from the public into a responsive City Hall, however that impression turned out to be a misconception. His administration has thus far turned out to be very heavy-handed, with directives only moving in one direction, top-bottom. When Mr. Soros and other other foundations funded the "Talking Transition" tent, there was no transparency about what process would hold the new incoming elected officials accountable to the public's demands for improved programs, new policies, or government reforms. A danger of privately funding government functions, like the interaction between the public and their elected officials, is that there are no mechanisms for transparency and accountability.

Jennifer Flynn Walker, VOCAL-NY photo Jennifer-Flynn-Walkerexport_zps574367a1.jpg

Jennifer Flynn Walker

Jennifer Flynn Walker, a member of the Board of Directors of the community group VOCAL-NY, has received funding from Mr. Soros. She's used his backing to transform herself into a "professional" activist. She's organized protests against the sinister billionaire Koch Brothers, even though she's backed by the political billionaire Mr. Soros. Further, she's used this funding to exert control over certain issues in New York City, such as HIV/AIDS activism and police reform activism. But because of her reliance on big money donors, Ms. Flynn exemplifies the kind of "professional" activism that has become constrained by sensitivities to funding sources and donors. VOCAL-NY has gone through the motions to oppose issues like "broken windows theory" of policing practiced by Mayor de Blasio's controversial pick for police commissioner, William Bratton, but VOCAL-NY has completely eased off the pressure politics from last year. The only explanation for that is the cozy relationship that nonprofit executives want to maintain with their donors and with the mayor.

When the CEO of a large HIV/AIDS services organization in New York City was shown to be aiding the neoliberal Gov. Andrew Cuomo's efforts to make radical cuts to the Medicaid program, which included the closure of several hospitals in Brooklyn, Ms. Flynn defended the CEO's actions, because, in her view, nonprofit executives are counted upon by politicians to provide political cover for unpopular acts. Another time, Ms. Flynn trashed activists, possibly committing libel and character assassination, because some daring grassroots activists were pressing for deeper law enforcement reforms, which, it turns out, are opposed by Mayor de Blasio. When asked by one activist how could it be fair for Ms. Flynn to obstruct the outsider activism to demand greater reforms from the broken political system, Ms. Flynn chose not to answer. In her role, Ms. Flynn was there to protect politicians from popular uprisings from the citizenry. A large concern of hers was to keep her access to politicians and other powerholders and to protect her funding sources. And amongst the activist community, especially notable within the second wave of the women's rights movement, trashing was a vicious, nasty tactic that aims to delegitimize the activism of those, who usually call for revolutionary social movement reforms. If it was lost on Ms. Flynn the severity of what she was doing, she appeared to act with no remorse.

What obstructionist community leaders, such as Ms. Flynn, unknowingly reveal when they act to either trash grassroots activists or block government or social reforms, is that they pull back the curtain like in the movie, "The Wizard of Oz," revealing how the person turning and pulling the corrupt political knobs and switches can sometimes be a nonprofit executive.

One reason many grassroots activists encounter such grave resistance in reforming the broken political system is the very nature of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits exist, because they provide services that the government does not want to provide, or has been defunded to be unable to provide. Since some of these services are seen to be critical to communities, some people organize nonprofit legal entities and seek funding, in order to meet people's various needs. However, nonprofits are not accountable to voters, and they become led by a "professional" class of executives with no interest in pressing for deeper, government reforms, because that would upset the economics and the politics of nonprofits. Because Mr. Soros has a hand in funding nonprofit executives, such as Ms. Flynn, he is able to, by extension, help elected officials, whom he supports, such as Mayor de Blasio, by co-opting activists and political movements, a common complaint shared by critics of the nonprofit industrial complex.

Against a backdrop of a once in a lifetime crackdown on public and political corruption, activists in New York are demanding wholesale reforms of government and nonprofits. In a world influenced by Occupy Wall Street, activists are no longer settling for the crumbs of incrementalism.

Jonathan Soros photo jonathan_sorosexport_zps841f6de4.jpg

Jonathan Soros

The only problem is that wealthy investors exert great influence on politics. The case of Mr. Soros is compounded by his son, Jonathan Soros. The younger Mr. Soros calls himself as reformer, but, contrary to his self-brandished moniker, he "secretly" met with Gov. Cuomo earlier this year to try to pressure Gov. Cuomo to adopt the corrupt New York City model of campaign finance for the rest of New York State. Secret meetings between billionaire businessmen and elected officials, with no transparency or opportunity for inclusion by voters, only serves to keep rendering the broken political system outside any accountability to voters. In last year's mayoral election, scandalous but accurate tabloid reporting by The New York Daily News showed how political operatives, campaign consultants, and lobbyists were able to game the New York City campaign finance model with the aid of Super PAC and 501(c)(4) political structures. Like Ms. Flynn in her own way, the younger Mr. Soros appeared to be downgrading calls for reforms, in this instance, to the state's campaign finance system, by taking a stance that was sure to keep the campaign finance system corrupt and broken for big money, special interests. It's a vicious circle, but there is a way for activists to expose and overcome this corruption.

Voters, activists, and the LGBT community are getting wiser about the corruption that blocks government and corporate reforms.

In the last two years, activists for reform have been given hope that the stranglehold that powerful nonprofits and corrupt politicians can be weakened. Joe Solmonese resigned as president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy organization in the United States. Voters in New York City voted Christine Quinn out of office, and Gay Men's Health Crisis CEO Marjorie Hill was forced out of her job. Additionally, Lisa Winters was arrested after allegations of misusing monies of the Bronx Community Pride Center. There was a way for average people keep corrupt leaders accountable.

Joe Solmonese, lost job at HRC photo joesolmoneseexport_zpsba8f07c4.jpg

Joe Solmonese

For years, grassroots LGBT civil rights activists across the nation were frustrated by the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC. The largest and best-funded LGBT group always appeared to stop short of demanding full LGBT equality, contrary to the hardline position of grassroots activists. At times, activists developed the sensibility that HRC was intentionally obstructing progress on the codification of LGBT civil rights.

Time and again, this perception was right. Under Mr. Solmonese, HRC never pressed President Barack Obama to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, never undertook direct action or other lobbying efforts to press for the repeal of the military's discriminatory policy against LGBT service members, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," never embraced trans* issues, and never pressed for a full federal civil rights bill to incorporate protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, amongst many criticisms that grassroots LGBT activists had of HRC. Seemingly worse, under Mr. Solmonese's direction, HRC began to score Defense Department military contractors and the manufacturers of other military equipment as some of the best workplaces for LGBT employees to pave the way to cultivate military contractors as major donors of HRC functions, raising an obvious conflict of interest. Since it was waging a campaign to recruit military contractors as donors, there was no way that HRC was going to promote military reforms, such as calling for an end of DADT. It's also been reported that some of HRC's largest donors are drone manufacturers, conflicting HRC from ever denouncing the Obama administration's use of drones. Another example of how community groups, in their quest for dollars, can obstruct radical social change.

Christine Quinn, voted out of office photo christinequinnexport_zps95bd5062.jpg

Christine Quinn

During her 15 years in public office, former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn never passed any meaningful LGBT civil rights legislation in New York City. While other progressive municipal politicians, such as former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed the city to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in a move that transformed the national march toward marriage equality, former Speaker Quinn did absolutely nothing to push the envelope for full LGBT equal civil rights. Not only was she a total disappointment, but she also did damage to many reform movements during her tenure.

Former Council Speaker Quinn opposed the strengthening of tenants rights in New York City's vicious real estate rental market. She overturned term limits imposed by the electorate for her own short-term political gain. She enabled the New York Police Department to wage increasingly controversial -- and ultimately illegal, according to federal courts -- tactics that proved to be racially-motivated. When activists tried to wage grassroots campaigns to save the closure of several community hospitals across New York City, former Council Speaker Quinn did nothing to help communities save their strategic community healthcare resources. Not surprisingly, when activists began to birddog former Council Speaker Quinn at political functions, it appeared that she had ordered her police detail to menace and harass protesters. The broken corrupt political system will go to any lengths to oppress calls for reform, even exploiting law enforcement. Ultimately, former Council Speaker Quinn was seen as nothing more than a puppet of her political campaign contributors, a harsh lesson that voters had to wait 15 years to learn.

Marjorie Hill, lost job at GMHC photo marjorie-hill-gmhcexport_zps666f9e22.jpg

Marjorie Hill

Under Ms. Hill's rocky, seven-year term as CEO, the venerable HIV/AIDS services organization Gay Men's Health Crisis, or GMHC, began a slow-motion collapse. Ms. Hill took for granted its support amongst the most oppressed populations with high HIV infection rates, namely, the Harlem Ballroom community. GMHC's exploitation of this artistic community drove the community to cease trusting GMHC and its agency officials. On the financial front, GMHC was experiencing serious reversals of fortune, including how the agency wasted so much money on fundraising expenses in connections with its annual AIDS Walk event and how the agency lost so much money on a controversial move to new office space. After the community had suffered enough under Ms. Hill, a grassroots effort began to see to her ouster from GMHC, a task that the reform community accomplished last year, just weeks after former Council Speaker Quinn was voted out of office.

Lisa Winters, lost job at Bronx Pride House photo lisa-winters-bronx-prideexport_zps3cddaf9f.jpg

Lisa Winters

Ms. Winters, the former executive director of the Bronx Community Pride Center, was sentenced to prison after it was shown in court that she had been stealing more than $143,000 from the nonprofit, amongst other charges. Ms. Winters's corruption drove the Bronx Community Price Center into closure. The corrupt political landscape of New York City routinely extends to its many nonprofit organizations, but reforms never seem to be enacted to improve transparency, accountability, or community participation in the nonprofits' governance. These nonprofits are supposed to aim to serve the community, but the community has no role in determining the acts of these nonprofits. The reason for this is that other nonprofit organization heads, such as Ms. Flynn, seek to obstruct reforms. Nonprofit executives, just like elected officials, don't want to be held accountable for their failures.

While activists have been able to oust some corrupt community leaders, others find a way to hang on.

Dirk McCall, lost job with Bronx Pride House photo dirk-mccallexport_zpsa229e8e4.jpg

Dirk McCall

Dirk McCall succeeded Ms. Winters as the executive director of the now-defunct Bronx Community Pride Center. Under Mr. McCall, many of the center's programs were cut as a result of a collapse of fundraising during the corruption investigation into Ms. Winters' administration of the nonprofit. Prior to Mr. McCall's term at the Bronx center, he worked as a campaign operative for several politicians, and he was a former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club, the city's largest LGBT political organization. Prior to that, Mr. McCall worked for the shady real estate lobbyist, James Capalino. Given Mr. McCall's career pattern with many of Manhattan's permanent government insiders, he has learned the ropes of what it means to protect the broken political system from community demands for reform. Because no matter how many "change" elections New Yorkers vote for, or how many "progressive" campaign promises that voters hear, the New York City government keeps on working only for permanent government insider-operatives, their lobbyists, the clients of those lobbyists, and big money donors.

When Mr. McCall worked at GMHC, he once attended a meeting with representatives of the Harlem Ballroom community. Mr. McCall was familiar with the complaints of Ballroom leaders, but Mr. McCall never undertook any efforts to make peace with activists. As many controversies engulfed the then GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill, Mr. McCall never demonstrated autonomous leadership by showing a different vision for the agency. Instead, as criticism piled up on Ms. Hill for the agency's financial losses, Mr. McCall reportedly arranged for Ms. Hill to receive an award from the Winter Pride gala organized by the Queens Pride Committee. At times, he appeared to be working as Ms. Hill's personal publicist rather than for fighting to serve the agency's best interest. At GMHC, Mr. McCall's philosophy was go along to get along. As with other "professional" activists and nonprofit executives, Mr. McCall came to be viewed by reform activists as an impediment to reform. Mr. McCall now works as the external affairs director for the office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., a soft landing job that few are able to decipher, unless Mr. Diaz plans to exploit Mr. McCall's corrupt network of contacts to launch a bid for city-wide office soon.

Glennda Testone, violates Free Speech photo glennda-testoneexport_zps5b74c0f7.jpg

Glennda Testone

As with Ms. Flynn, Ms. Testone, the head of the New York City's largest LGBT pride house, is also tone deaf to demands for reform. Ms. Testone notoriously blocked reporters from being able to comment on the LGBT Community Center's Facebook page to avoid press questions about transparency and accountability in the wake of the criminal financial collapse of the Bronx Community Pride Center. This was after she had deliberately instructed the LGBT Community Center's spokesperson, Cindi Creager, to avoid any media inquiries made by The Village Voice.

Ms. Testone also violated the First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of assembly after she banned meetings by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in the LGBT Community Center. She then added to the controversy by instituting a "moratorium" on any discussion of the Palestinian struggle for peace and self-determination. This censorship, in response to pressure from Ms. Testone's wealthy supporters of Israel's anti-Palestinian policies, flew in the face of the LGBT community's commitment to diversity. The LGBT Community Center was always counted on to offer safe space for discussion of "controversial" issues, but that changed under Ms. Testone. Petitions, appeals to meet with the Center's board of directors, calls and letters did not succeed. Ultimately, the LGBT Community Center revised its policies, but only after activists staged an occupation of the LGBT Community Center, an embarrassing act that showed Ms. Testone for the obstructionist to freedom and reform that she truly represents. For the term that the ban was in place, the censorship drew negative headlines for Ms. Testone, but she survived the scrutiny, because her patrons and donors supported the controversial censorship, another sign that the wealthy donors service their own political interests, which may not always align with the calls for reform by grassroots activists.

Ms. Testone also spearheaded a town hall at the "Talking Transition" tent on Canal Street last November on LGBT issues. At the town hall, a foreshadowing of what many reform groups would face in the coming de Blasio administration, many activists were told to discuss the needs of the LGBT community that had been left neglected after the mayoralties of Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. But as Ms. Testone led that discussion, there was no talk of the money that would be needed to fund community proposals. And like that town hall, Mayor de Blasio's mayoralty has largely been all talk, without fully funding the social, economic, and legal resources needed by not just the LGBT community, but by all New Yorkers. In this instance, Ms. Testone was there to just let the community vent their frustrations, with no sincere intention to press the de Blasio administration for city resources. Ms. Testone is not about reform, but about placating the community.

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Chad Griffin

Succeeding Mr. Solmonese as president of HRC was Chad Griffin, who has stirred up such a dust storm of controversy almost impossible for the imagination of critics of his predecessor. Mr. Griffin, like other national presidents of large lobbying organizations (Patricia Ireland of national NOW comes to mind) have traditionally used their perch to weave fantastical biographies in order to personify the movement that they are leading. Mr. Griffin has managed, with the carefully orchestrated media help of teams of politicians, government employees, supporters, and other political operatives, to portray himself as the "Rosa Parks" of the LGBT marriage equality moment, as absurd as that may sound. But the cynical leaders of some community groups are so narcissistic that they are not self aware of how they come across to the community as they wage these self-interested machinations for their own personal gain. These desperate measures detract from the true calls for fundamental reforms demanded by grassroots LGBT civil rights activists, and Mr. Griffin is actually misdirecting the resources of HRC to fabricate a Cinderella story of his own life, instead of fighting for a comprehensive federal LGBT civil rights bill, which for years has been the strategic focus of a growing number of activists, a move on which HRC still lags.

Critics of HRC see the organization as having become captive of not only Beltway politics, but also captive to both the political machinations of its big money donors and the narcism of is leadership. With the help of notable LGBT bloggers and activists, including Andrew Sullivan, Michael Petrelis, and others, the broader LGBT community is wising up to how the leadership of our community groups lead the movements for social, legal, and economic reforms astray.

Carl Siciliano, won't demand full resources to provide shelter to LGBT homeless youth photo carl-sicilianoexport_zps44d7b145.jpg

Carl Siciliano

Because former Council Speaker Quinn never made it a political and budgetary priority to fully fund the resources needed to provide shelter to all homeless LGBT youth in New York City, the community has to put up with community group leaders, such as Carl Siciliano, who safely asks for small, incremental gains in beds at homeless shelters, which fails to adequately provide shelter to all homeless youths. Mr. Siciliano is the executive director of the Ali Forney Center, a shelter for homeless LGBT youths. Rather than wage pressure politics or direct action against politicians, Mr. Siciliano prefers to stay on their good side, leaving thousands of homeless LGBT youths on the streets, just because he is too timid and insecure to make a demand for all the resources to rollout shelter to anybody who needs it. Indeed, in one nasty episode of the last few years, Mr. Siciliano was seen trying to shut down a competing LGBT homeless shelter in a move that would have reduced the number of available beds to homeless LGBT youth. At that "Talking Transition" town hall chaired by Ms. Testone, Mr. Siciliano should have demanded the resources to full fund the needs of homeless LGBT youths, but, remember, that farcical town hall was not about resources, it was just about blowing a lot of hot air.

Why are community advocacy groups pitted against each other or determined to demobilize broader social movements, instead of trying to lift everybody up ? The fact is that there's only so much public assistance and private philanthropy, leading community advocacy groups to get stuck in an "us vs. them" worldview. The price society pays is that nobody dares to make a demand for all the resources needed to fully address social issues, like providing universal healthcare for everybody or providing shelter for all LGBT homeless youths. Where's the focus on the bigger picture to get *all* the needed resources ? As a result of how nonprofit organizations place a priority on maintaining close relationships with politicians and their big money donors, society never makes the underlying gains that reform activists demand. And for billionaire philanthropists, like the elder Mr. Soros, throwing a few coins here and there to community groups is a whole lot cheaper than facing the prospect of jacked-up income tax rates to fully fund the neglected government programs that nonprofit organizations are trying to address.

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Scott Wiener

Another obstruction to government reforms can been seen in Supervisor Scott Wiener, an elected member to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Although not based in New York like all the rest, Mr. Wiener hails from the East Coast, and he has come to be seen as an impediment to the demands of his community. After winning election, Supervisor Wiener voted to allow San Francisco city officials to "repeal and amend voter-approved initiatives and to legislate expiration dates for voter-approved initiative measures," according to a petition mounted to oppose Supervisor Wiener's machinations to seek a municipal legislative leadership post. Mr. Wiener's anti-democratic move was seen as reminiscent of when former Council Speaker Quinn overturned term limits, which had been adopted after two voter referenda. A classic neoliberal said to be following in the corrupt footsteps of former Council Speaker Quinn in New York, Sup. Wiener has also proposed an extensive revision of San Francisco's environmental review process that would restrict the rights of citizens to appeal zone-busting real estate development projects in a move described by the press as a "developer's wet dream" come true. As with Ms. Flynn and Ms. Testone, Supervisor Wiener has also trashed the First Amendment rights of activists when he had the controversial blogger Michael Petrelis arrested over an attempt to take a photograph of Supervisor Wiener. Motivated to end Supervisor Wiener's controversial term in office, Mr. Petrelis is now running to unseat Supervisor Wiener from the Board of Supervisors. Whether the corrupt political insiders like it or not, activists are fighting for fundamental government reforms.

Richard Socarides, defended DOMA against interests of LGBT community photo Richard_Socaridesexport_zps1681a5da.jpg

Richard Socarides

The extent to which nonprofit organization executives and other permanent political insider operatives, such as Richard Socarides, will sell-out the LGBT community is vast and almost endless. A Clinton administration "Yes Man," Mr. Socarides wrote a controversial memorandum of talking points that allowed former President Bill Clinton to defend his decision to sign into law the state-sponsored discrimination in the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Since that time, Mr. Socarides has unsuccessfully tried to defend his enabling act. Mr. Socarides had other corrupt roles in the Clinton administration's controversial travel bans against people with HIV/AIDS and the roll-out of the discriminatory DADT military policy. Although activists are keeping track of Mr. Socarides's corrupt record of being a sell-out, the mainstream media, most notably The New York Times, refuses to take a deep dive to explain how politicians exploit unaccountable community leaders, such as Mr. Socarides, to oppose community demands for reforms.

Mr. Socarides continues to survive as a member of the corrupt political insider class of operatives in New York City. Recently, he has been serving on the board of directors of the State University of New York, where he was part of the concerted effort to close Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. Still doing damage, Mr. Socarides must surely be aware of how activists have succeeded in ousting other corrupt community leaders.

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Ed Koch

Perhaps the granddaddy of all corrupt sell-out political LGBT leaders was former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. A closet-case, former Mayor Koch was resoundingly ridiculed by the LGBT community in New York for deliberately neglecting to take meaningful municipal action to address the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many interpreted former Mayor Koch's hesitance as fear that he might possibly be outed as a homosexual. Such is the media bias to refuse to expose corruption by community leaders that when former Mayor Koch passed away last year, The New York Times published a controversial obituary that was sanitized of any mention of former Mayor Koch's failings at the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Only after LGBT and AIDS activists caused such a ruckus on social media did the editors of The New York Times correct former Mayor Koch's obituary to reflect the historical facts of his negligence.

Before his death, former Mayor Koch had been in frail health. During that time, former Council Speaker Quinn had elicited a political endorsement for her mayoral campaign from former Mayor Koch, but former Council Speaker Quinn's campaign people never recorded the endorsement for a TV advertisement campaign, lamenting the lost opportunity to capitalize one more time from the way corrupt political insiders support each other, no matter how detrimental that support is to the community-at-large.

The only way to make room for new leadership is to keep pushing the old one out.

Without adding to each of the cynicism of politics and the herculean efforts of activists to bring about government and social reforms, what lessons can voters and activists draw from this long overview of failed leaders ?

Voters and activists can take heed from the established pattern that corrupt leaders can be dethroned. The lessons of Mr. Solmonese at HRC, former Council Speaker Quinn in public office, Ms. Hill at GMHC, and Ms. Winters at the Bronx Community Pride Center is that corrupt leaders don't hold onto power forever. The community, led by activists, can organize efforts to bring new leaders to cornerstone community nonprofit groups that underpin critical social services. The process of their ouster may take some time, organizing, and efforting, but it has been shown that it can be done. The reasons that some corrupt community leaders have a knack for surviving, like Ms. Flynn, Ms. Testone, Mr. McCall, and Mr. Socarides, to name a few, is because the corrupt political system uses these front group leaders as a buffer against reform from their respective communities. No matter how severely Ms. Flynn trashes reform activists, or how many times corrupt politicians, like former Council Speaker Quinn, use police to target activists, or go all the way, like when Supervisor Wiener had the blogger Mr. Petrelis arrested, we are living in a remarkable era of reform. Activists and bloggers can see through nonprofit leaders' failed one-house legislative strategies. The community knows when a nonprofit executive keeps promising "reforms," but nothing keeps getting done over the span of many years. The community can see the numerous times that "empty suits" organize meaningless press conferences for reforms, but nothing ever happens to follow-up to pressure the corrupt political system to actually deliver reforms. Bloggers can connect the dots and draw a true picture of the corrupt political landscape much easier now than before. More and more, activists are not willing to accept the fabricated story lines by disappointing leaders, like Mr. Griffin. Whereas the mainstream media may deliberately refuse to report the full truth of the corrupt political landscape, activists are taking to blogging and social media to self-report the truth about corruption and the ways to bring it to an end.

If foundations, such as those run by the elder Mr. Soros, really cared about making wholesale reforms to government and breaking the power of corporations, they would fund pop-up tents in the top 50 cities across America to advocate for the Wall Street transaction tax. Instead, the pop-up tents they put up are meant to diffuse, confuse, and demobilize voters. The true test of their intention is what outcome are they trying to bring about, and, more and more, people are getting wiser to this important distinction.

As activists organize new social movements, more and more citizens will learn new insights about self-determination and self-governance. And although not perfect, some federal prosecutors, such as Preet Bharara, have finally begun a campaign to renew government integrity. Taken as a whole, this is a moment of renewal and optimism. Time and history are on our side. We can make the world a better place. We are making it happen now.

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