Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Journalist Breaks Through City Hall's "Blue Wall of Silence"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


by Gary Tilzer


If there was any value left in the local Pulitzer or TV news Emmy awards, a journalist who most of his City Hall colleagues try to discredit and humiliate because they feel he is not worthy of their status, should win this year. Rafael Martínez Alequín, long a pariah among the City Hall press corps, did what his colleagues don’t bother to do anymore. He investigated corruption - and in so doing, broke one of the biggest stories of the year.

Last year, Martínez produced (click here to see the video) a video in which he interviewed several Bronx neighbors of State Senator Pedro Espada, who had never seen Espada in the building before. The excellent video, which shows Espada’s car parked later that night at his real home in Mamaroneck, proves outright that Senator Espada had never lived at the address he listed as his official State Senate residence. An old lady tenant even confronted Espada, who is now second-in-line to be Governor, after his staff member, in an attempt to intimidate her, took a picture of her while Martinez was interviewing her. As a reward for his five-star video did Rafael make the front page of the dailies last year? On the contrary, not one of his City Hall colleagues continued Martínez the investigation to prove Espada did not live in the Bronx.

It is not only the press who is trying to marginalize Martínez. It took Norman Siegel defending Martinez to defeat the Mayor’s attempt to throw Martinez out of City Hall by not renewing his press pass, despite the fact that Martinez has covered City Hall for 25 years. Siegel’s lawsuit has already resulted in Martínez getting a new press pass, and it is still ongoing to win press pass rights for other bloggers. Martínez is still not allow to ask any questions at mayoral press conferences.

A short time after the (Click here to see the video) video was released, Martínez was attacked and threatened when he attempted to ask Espada a questions about his residence and non profit medical heath care organization he funds with government money and runs. Martinez’s camera was broken and he was told that if he continued to investigate Espara he would be put in a body bag by those close to Espada.

Martínez was attacked because Espada’s people knew he was doing the job of a real journalist and the so-called real journalists were of no danger to them. Espada knew that if you’re a member of the ruling class, the mainstream media will protect you. More importantly, Espada knew that he could use his vote to turn the Senate Democratic as not only a shield to avoid negative press stories, but, more importantly, to hold off and stall criminal investigations into his conduct.

It was only after Espada voted with the GOP, putting Sprinkles the Clown in charge of the Senate, that the Bronx DA Robert Johnson started his investigation into Espada’s residence, empanelling a grand jury and subpoenaed Martinez’s Video. Since then, even the society journalists have been calling Martínez, now that they see his work as a real journalist could put Espada behind bars and end the circus that has become the State Senate.

Mr. Martinez, it is time to get back to work and expose why the DAs, the Mayor’s DOI and the FBI are delaying the investigation into the City Council slush fund scandal. We already know, as we witnessed during the Council’s term limits vote, why the city’s establishment has convinced itself that only the reelection of Bloomberg will save the city from financial disaster. Who else can spend millions of dollars on TV commercials convincing the voters he is creating jobs, while the city’s employment rate climes over 9% for the first time in 16 years. You can do this, Rafael. Just remember those journalists who hate you really secretly envy you, because you’re the only real journalist at City Hall.
Nobody Asked Me, But . . . A good example of the disconnect of the City Council from the people they are supposed to represent is their vote last week to allow more non city residents to hold city jobs. The Council did this while the city has the highest unemployment rate in 16 years, 9%. . . Now we know what the MTA is doing with the extra funds they collect because of the fare increases. RATNER'S BIG BREAK GETS $WEETHEART DEAL FROM MTA 100 years to pay off loans, MTA lets Yards developer go on installment plan . . . Hey MTA what about the riding public MTA budraget woes make for dirtier stations. You would think the MTA wall rolling in money to make the Ratner deal. MTA is $6.6M under budget this year . . . Albany's dysfunctional clown show will end if and when power is restored to the voters to removed elected officials. The people of Iran are willing to die over fake elections, New Yorkers don't care and the city's establishment is clueless and lacks the ability to lead ENOUGH OF THIS SPLIT! GOV REJECTS SENATE, POLLS TELL POLS: GET OFF YOUR 'FARCE' . . . Does the NYT understand what a bunch of wimps they have turned into Get Back to Work, Albany! . . . The DN don't pay the bums makes New Yorkers feel hopeless Editorial: Chamber of horrors ... This man must be made with Teflon SCOPPETTA GETS A(NOTHER) PASS, DOI: FDNY & DOB share blame for Deutsche Bank tragedy . . . Do you think there a story here? The Mayor's money manager Steve Rattner paid off Hank Morris to get a piece city's Pension fund while NYT reports Interviews and records show that the Bloomberg administration is responsible for much of the growth in city pension costs over the last eight years . . . As businesses and those who pay taxes more out of the state, there is more fallout from Albany's dysfunctionalism and leadership Manhattan's Declining Share of Jobs, Once at Odds, Bloomberg and Silver Pressure Port Authority on the Trade Center

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