Thursday, March 31, 2011

American Media Reports News Other Than Zoo's Escaped Cobra As If Anything Else Really Matters

Many visitors to the zoo today hoped to see the cobra recovered.

Many visitors to the zoo hoped

to see the cobra recovered.

March 30, 2011

NEW YORK—The American print, broadcast, and online news media inexplicably continued reporting Wednesday on topics ranging from the budget debate in Washington to the recent tumult in Syria as if Saturday's escape of a 20-inch Egyptian cobra from the Bronx Zoo—a snake whose venom destroys its prey's nervous system and can kill a human being in 15 minutes—isn't the only thing worth paying attention to right now. "The safety of nuclear power continues to be a hot-button topic," said one reporter in a newscast that, bizarrely, wasn't devoted entirely to a deadly snake that has no regard for human life and could be anywhere, coiled up in someone's basement, hiding in a pillowcase, or at this very moment looming right behind an individual reading a news article, its neck-hood fully extended and its lethal fangs poised to strike into the back of one's head. "And in sports news, [something else unrelated to the only two topics that could possibly be of any interest to anyone, namely, (a) what is being done to catch the snake and (b) how does one actively hide from it]." As of press time, Brian Williams should stop interviewing President Obama about Libya for Christ's sake and ask him why, with a snake on the loose that can release a neurotoxin causing severe flaccid paralysis, the government isn't setting up antivenom distribution centers across the country.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Even Newt Gingrich A Little Depressed By Prospect Of Him Running For President

March 28, 2011

WASHINGTON—Expressing a reaction similar to millions of other dismayed Americans, Newt Gingrich admitted Monday that he too was feeling "pretty bummed out" about the prospect of a Newt Gingrich presidential campaign.

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Gingrich calls talk of a Newt Gingrich presidential campaign "pathetic, frankly."

While confirming his ardent desire to be president, the former Speaker of the House told reporters the mere fact that American voters were seriously considering Newt Gingrich to be a viable Republican candidate in 2012 was a fairly distressing development that made him question the direction the country was moving in.

"Even when I see my name on a list of potential candidates, I think, you gotta be kidding me—Newt Gingrich?" said Gingrich, frowning and shaking his head in disbelief. "People are actually getting excited about the guy who engineered the 1995 government shutdown? I'm sorry, but that's just sad."

"It's 2011, for God's sake," Gingrich added. "Can't we get a fresher name to represent the Republican Party in the 21st century than Newt Gingrich?"

Though he acknowledged a Gingrich candidacy would definitely fire up certain segments of the conservative base, and likely build up a fair amount of momentum on name- recognition alone, Gingrich said that knowing we lived in a world where these kinds of political realities existed at all was a rather grim and sobering thought.

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The former House Speaker says this is just about the last thing Americans need to see on their TV screens.

In addition, the retired Georgia representative expressed a sense of deep disappointment that people actually seemed this willing to throw their support behind a past-his-prime reactionary with an anti-everything stance and a history of marital infidelity.

"Hell, look at me: I'm a public relations nightmare," said Gingrich, adding that, for many years in the late '90s and early 2000s, his name was basically a punch line. "Remember that whole thing with me divorcing my wife while she was still in the hospital recovering from cancer? For my campaign's sake, I hope people have forgotten about that. But c'mon, it's a pretty bleak political landscape when the presidential campaign of a known philanderer is actually getting off the ground."

While Gingrich maintained that he does indeed want to win the presidency, he said that actually deciding to form a presidential exploratory committee and working on a campaign strategy for the election of Newt Gingrich made him slightly sick to his stomach.

Contemplating dozens of dreary appearances at political rallies in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich told reporters that he could already feel his soul "dying a little inside" every time he thought of going out there and delivering overly rehearsed speeches about the burden on American taxpayers, Obamacare, and his national security qualifications.

Gingrich also claimed he was dreading the inevitable prospect of Newt Gingrich launching pointed yet patently unfair attacks on Obama's lack of clear leadership in the economic crisis, while simultaneously having to repeat some stupid campaign slogan like "Taking Back America's Future" over and over until he was completely sick of "everything coming out of Newt Gingrich's fat face."

"Oh, God, I don't even want to think about all the awful things I'm going to have to say," said Gingrich, adding that he cringed when imagining the "unbelievably phony" patriotic rhetoric that he would likely be uttering constantly. "All those empty promises and misinformed statements used to mask a selfish agenda or stir up people's fears. I already want me to just shut the fuck up."

"To be fair, I guess it's possible that I'll force some of the younger candidates to step up their game and once again generate some real interest in the core values of the Republican Party, but…ugh, who am I kidding?" Gingrich continued. "I'm the worst."

Mark Kebler, campaign strategist and loyal aide to Gingrich for the past 20 years, strongly agreed that a Newt Gingrich presidential run "would be some really depressing shit, for sure."

"Interestingly enough, it's not just about Newt's slim chances, polarizing character, irritating voice, or lack of charisma," Kebler said. "When you get right down to it, Newt Gingrich just kind of sucks. When I tell people I work for him, they give me this look, and I'm just like, 'Yeah, yeah, believe me, I know.'"

Even winning the Republican nomination would be "a downer," Gingrich said, since he would then have to select a running mate every bit as lame as he is, such as Tim Pawlenty or Michele Bachmann.

Like much of the voting public, Gingrich also expressed concerns about an unlikely yet disturbing scenario, one that ends with Newt Gingrich in the Oval Office.

"What if I win? Do I really want to live in a country where I'm president?" Gingrich said. "Obviously, yes, but it doesn't mean I should be."

'Public-private' plan to earn more cash from city parking meters has been corrupt for decades

Juan Gonzalez

Wednesday, March 30th 2011, 4:00 AM

City parking meters will generate $165 million this year. Past public-private partnerships to run the meter have been marked by scandal.
City parking meters will generate $165 million this year. Past public-private partnerships to run the meter have been marked by scandal.

New York City's parking meters have always been the gold mine that brings forth scandal.

Our parking meters will generate $165 million this year. Even when you subtract the Department of Transportation's costs for a few hundred meter repair and collection agents, and the money it shelled out for new muni meters, net parking income to the city will still surpass $100 million.

That's not counting the nearly $600 million motorists will pay for parking meter tickets.

Simply put, parking meter cash flow makes any Wall Street dealmaker drool.

Back in the 1980s, the Koch administration gave a $22 million contract to a company named Citisource to supply handheld computers for parking enforcement agents. Koch's folks also doled out another contract to an outfit called Datacom to process parking tickets.

Both companies, federal prosecutors later revealed, had bribed scores of city officials to land their contracts.

By the time the Parking Violations Bureau scandal was over, Stanley Friedman, Koch's close ally and head of the Bronx Democratic Party, was in jail, along with his sidekick, Bronx Borough President Stanley Simon, and a handful of others.

Queens Borough President Donald Manes committed suicide before he could be indicted, and their chief prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani, became a hero.

Then in the 1990s, Koch's successor David Dinkins awarded another contract for parking meters. Dinkins chose Lockheed, the company that had acquired Datacom.

He was forced to cancel the contract after the Department of Investigation revealed that Lockheed colluded with other bidders.

The DOI also found several city officials improperly favored Lockheed and that a key City Hall staffer solicited a job with the company during the process.

Now, Mayor Bloomberg is eying a "public-private" partnership for parking meters.

On Monday, the city's Economic Development Corp. got 12 from financial firms seeking to advise Bloomberg on the best way of "unlocking value in existing assets to save money and improve service delivery," says mayoral spokesman Jason Post.

High on the list of such assets are parking meters, along with city-owned garages.

The mayor and his aides say they have no intention of doing what Chicago did a few years ago - getting a big upfront payment to plug an immediate deficit by giving away city parking revenues for 75 years.

City Hall is already using more meters, higher rates and bigger fines to squeeze record payments from motorists.

In fiscal year 2007, there were 70,000 metered spaces that produced only $115 million in revenue. Now there are 80,000 spaces, and the city projects they will generate $192 million for next year.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith became a Republican Party star for privatizing government services when he was mayor of Indianapolis.

From 2001 to 2005, Goldsmith was senior vice president of Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc. Last year, his old firm landed a 50-year contract from Indianapolis to manage all parking meters for that city.

Under the contract, Affiliated even gets the money from tickets written by Indianapolis police. The contract barely passed the Indianapolis City Council by a 15-14 vote.

Given New York's checkered history with parking meters, we need to watch this process very carefully.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hate Crime Victim Faces Deportation after Two Years of Wrongful Imprisoment

Jorjelina Aguirre, mother of Ricardo Muñiz, an openly gay Mexican immigrant plead for the release of her son. Ricardo Muñiz, was the victim of an anti-gay beating in Brooklyn. The NYPD failed to designate the incident as a hate crime, despite Ricardo's multiple injuries and the details of the police report. Instead, Mr. Muñiz was arrested several weeks later, accused of having attacked his two homophobic assailants. Mr. Muñiz has been awating trial in Riker's Island jail for 18 months, unable to post bail because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has place a detainer on him. Mayor Bloomberg's policy is to honor all Federal immigration detainers without exercising any discretion. Today, the long awaited verdict on Mr. Muñiz case has finally been delivered and Ricardo has been declared innocent of all charges. Meanhile, Mr. Muñiz innocent, in detention at the City's Department of correction at City tax payers' expense and will soon be turned over to federal immigration authorities. In this video Ricardo's mother speak in Spanish following with a translation of her plead for her son.

video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

The YFP Call on the wonderful people of this city to help this mother to get her son back.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Feds unseal indictment charging Pedro Espada Jr. and son with tax evasion

Monday, March 28th 2011, 8:11 PM

Former state senator Pedro Espada Jr. is now in trouble with the feds.
Ward for News
Former state senator Pedro Espada Jr. is now in trouble with the feds.

The feds unsealed a superceding indictment Monday charging ex-Bronx state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. and his son with tax evasion.

He, and son Pedro Gautier Espada, were also hit with a new wire fraud charge in connection with a bid-rigging scheme to win a janitorial contract.

Pedro Espada Jr. is accused of filing personal tax returns in which he under-reported his income in the years 2005-2007.

His son is charged with filing falsified corporate returns for the janitorial service in 2004-2005, according to the indictment filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Both men are free on $750,000 bail and will likely be arraigned on the new indictment next week.

They are accused of stealing more than $550,000 from Soundview Medical Center coffers to pay for expensive dinners, tickets to Broadway shows and and sports events and a downpayment on a Bentley.

Federal prosecutors indicated the government will seek forfeiture of the Espadas' ill-gotten profits if they are convicted.

Pedro Gautier Espada's lawyer declined to comment. Pedro Espada Jr.'s lawyer could not immediately be reached.

The Moneyball Mets

Sandy Alderson needed to dump salary, and rebuild from scratch, anyway. Being broke, for now, might actually be a good thing.

On the sliding scale of sports-fan optimism, Mets fans’ hopes for this year’s team fall somewhere between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Washington Generals. The Mets’ slow, sad, grueling collapse since October 19, 2006—the day Carlos Beltran watched that Adam Wainwright curveball, motionless, as if he were trying to avoid being noticed by a Tyrannosaurus rex—has been a succession of worst-case scenarios.

Horrible contracts, late-season collapses, devastating injuries, public-relations fiascos, and, just for good measure, an inextricable connection to one of the most notorious financial frauds in American history. Is there anything the Mets could do right now to hurt their brand worse than they already have? The Times story Friday morning that the team lost up to $50 million last year was greeted more with resignation than with outrage: Mets fans have become depressingly accustomed to such bad news. Every night this off-season has been Kick a Fan in the Groin Night at the ballpark. Mr. Met would be crying, had he tear ducts, movable lips, or feelings.

(Just one note on the Madoff-Wilpons mess before I leave such complicated matters to more qualified professionals: If you are one of the thousands of people Madoff defrauded and you are also a Mets fan, you must find it uniquely enraging to realize that Bobby Bonilla, thanks to a deal he signed in January 2000, will be making $1.2 million every July 1 until 2035, quite possibly paid for with money invested with Madoff. That money was protected, but yours wasn’t. Just has to make you feel fantastic.)

If you are a Mets fan, this spring training has not been full of warmth and renewal and the smell of fresh-cut grass. This spring training is rain and wet snow and muddy shoes. The season feels over before it has begun.

But allow me, in the midst of this dreary March, to be a beacon of hope. Because while this spring may have been full of ugly headlines and fears that the Mets won’t be able to keep the Citi Field lights on through extra-inning games, when it comes to actual baseball transactions and planning for the future … the Mets are progressing precisely as planned. The Mets, as a brain trust, are doing everything exactly right. The franchise is in safe, capable hands. Really, I mean it.

Sandy Alderson, the Mets’ new general manager, admits he didn’t initially have any plans to take over the team, saying famously, “Absent [MLB commissioner Bud Selig] asking [me] to go ahead and pursue this, and to some degree urging me to pursue it, I’d still be in Santo Domingo studying Spanish.” (Alderson was in charge of baseball’s operations in the Dominican Republic.) Alderson said this shortly after the Madoff-Wilpons story had broken, and some took it as an expression of regret, the words of a man who thought he would have millions to spend on free agents and realized, too late, that he didn’t. That the Mets’ most expensive off-season acquisition was oft-injured Chris Capuano (whose one-year, $1.5 million contract is only slightly more than what Bobby Bonilla will make next year) wasn’t exactly comforting. Did Alderson get baited and switched?

But it was another Alderson comment, made a week earlier, that showed that things are, in fact, going the way he expected. When asked about the Mets’ payroll in a conference call, Alderson said, “A $145 million and $150 million payroll is probably too high.” Many took this as a tacit admission that the Mets aren’t going to have the payroll flexibility over the next few years that they've had in the past, and I suppose it is. To which any reasonable Mets fan has to say: Thank heavens. Considering the decisions of the past few years, a bloated budget is a toy the Mets should have taken away from them. This is to say, if the Mets have to go broke—and remember, they’re not actually going broke—this is the perfect time to do it.

As of right now, the Mets payroll is $133,145,000 for the 2011 season. Obviously, that’s too high, considering the team will be lucky to reach .500 this year. Next year, with Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, and Oliver Perez off the payroll, obligations drop to $65.8 million. The year after that: $44.9 million. Sure, that’s still plenty high for two years from now—it’s higher than the Padres’ and Pirates’ full payrolls last year—but it’s manageable. (By comparison, the Yankees’ obligations in two years? $125.9 million.) Barring a sudden splurge on three Albert Pujolses (Pujoli?), the Mets payroll wasn’t going to be $133 million in two years anyway.

The Mets would be slashing payroll over the next two years even if the Wilpons won 50 Powerballs. The rot that set into the Mets over the final few years of Omar Minaya’s reign required a total overhaul, one that even the Wilpons knew was necessary. “Those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” Jeff Wilpon proclaimed during the October press conference to announce Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel’s firings. “Of course there will be changes in how we do everything.” Alderson is here to do the same job, essentially, that Donnie Walsh was brought in to do when he took over for Isiah Thomas three years ago: Dump the old, expensive, bad players and find some young, cheap, and (one hopes) good new ones. That doesn’t require money. That requires time. By the time the flotsam from the end of the Minaya era is jettisoned, there should be cash to spend, whether it comes from the Wilpons or a new owner, minority or otherwise. That will let the Mets follow the Red Sox’s “Moneyball with money” model—develop a base of homegrown talent, then supplement it with free agents—that Alderson seems to have planned on in the first place.'s Plan To Charge People Money For Consuming Goods, Services Called Bold Business Move

March 28, 2011 |

NEW YORK—In a move that media executives, economic forecasters, and business analysts alike are calling "extremely bold," put into place a groundbreaking new business model today in which the news website will charge people money to consume the goods and services it provides. "The whole idea of an American business trying to make a profit off of a product its hired professionals create on a daily basis is a truly brave and intrepid strategy," said media analyst Steve Messner, adding that's extremely risky new approach to commerce—wherein legal tender must be exchanged in order to receive a desired service—could drastically reduce the publication's readership. "To ask's 33 million unique monthly visitors to switch to a cash-for-manufactured-goods-based model from the standard everything-online-should-be-free-for-reasons-nobody-can-really-explain-based model is pretty fearless. It's almost as if The New York Times is equating itself with a business trying to function in a capitalistic society." In a statement released last Thursday, the newspaper's publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. said, "If this fails, I'd honestly rather The New York Times not exist in a world where people are unwilling to pay the price of a fucking movie ticket for a monthly online subscription."

Glenn Greenwald

Billionaire self-pity and the Koch brothers

Billionaire self-pity and the Koch brothers
AP Photo/Andy Manis
Jane Pederson, center, of Menomonie, Wis., protests in front of the offices of Koch Industries in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, one of the most revealing spectacles has been the parade of financial elites who petulantly insist that they are the victims of societal hostility: political officials heap too much blame on them, public policy burdens them so unfairly, the public resents them, and -- most amazingly of all -- President Obama is a radical egalitarian who is unprecedentedly hostile to business interests. One particularly illustrative example was the whiny little multi-millionaire hedge fund manager (and CNBC contributor), Anthony Scaramucci, who stood up at an October, 201o, town hall meeting and demanded to know: "when are we going to stop whacking at the Wall Street pinata?"

The Weekly Standard now has a very lengthy defense of -- including rare interviews with -- Charles and David Koch, the libertarian billionaires who fund everything from right-wing economic policy, union-busting, and anti-climate-change advocacy to civil liberties and liberalized social policies -- though far more the former goals than the latter. In this article one finds the purest and most instructive expression of billionaire self-pity that I think I've ever seen -- one that is as self-absorbed and detached from reality as it destructive. It's really worth examining their revealed mindset to see how those who wield the greatest financial power (and thus the greatest political power) think of themselves and those who are outside of their class.

Sam Roberts
Sam Roberts, city slicker.
(Photo: Michael J. Roberts

Sam Roberts notes: “For the first time, black, Hispanic and Asian residents of New York City and its suburbs are a majority of the metropolitan area’s more than 19 million residents, according to the 2010 census, released last week.”

Mets Release Mets

March 27, 2011 |

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla—In an attempt to move the organization into a new era, the New York Mets announced Friday they will part ways with the New York Mets, releasing all 40 of its roster players and its entire farm system. "They were given a fair chance to prove themselves, but they've shown a disappointing lack of productivity for the past 64 years," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters, citing the 1988 NLCS, the 1999 NLCS, the Subway Series, the 2006 NLCS, the 2007 and 2008 collapses, seven consecutive losing seasons in the 1960s, the decision to trade Nolan Ryan, K-Rod punching his girlfriend's father in the face, and Carlos Beltran as reasons to swallow the remaining $480 million left on every player's contract. "Mets fans associate an intense feeling of negativity with the Mets. Cutting the entire organization was the only way to get them back on our side." Following his statement, Alderson said, "Goodbye," and left, as he had just informed himself of his own release.

Idle Youth: The World's Ticking Time Bomb


By Bob Hennelly

Last December in Tunisia, 26 year-old Mohammed Bouazizi set
himself ablaze. Hedied from his injuries in the first week of January.

In a matter of weeks, the poignancy and despair of his personal
narrative sparked a nation to rise in rebellion and throw off an
autocratic ruler who had clung to power for decades thanks to U.S.

Bouazizi was educated, but like tens of millions of young people
around the world, he was not able to find a regular job. Bouaszizi
improvised a living, illegally selling fruits and vegetables without
the required permits.The BBC quoted Buoazizi's sister as saying her
brother was in trouble because corrupt officials wanted to get a piece
of his subsistence action. Bouazizi got slapped around by greedy
officials who confiscated his inventory and refused to return a scale
he needed to do his job. Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest. That
fire is still burning across northern Africa.

In January in Algeria, several young people followed Bouazizi's path to self-immolation to protest chronic unemployment and a lack of access to housing. In India, another after a local politician's promise for a job did not pan out, another youth did the same.

According to the Carnegie Center on the Middle East in North Africa, two-thirds of the population is under 18. The Carnegie Center estimates the region "ranks amongst the worst in the world for youth unemployment, which approaches 30 percent."

We had a hand in the repressive social conditions these kids are overthrowing.For decades, American foreign policy looked at the region as a strategic source of oil, and whichever bullies could protect our access to that spigot, we would fund and arm. That was the "stability" we wanted. How they sorted out generational equity was not our concern. As it turns out there are some things even the last standing super power can't calibrate.

Meaningful work, and the ability to honestly toil to sustain yourself
and your family, is as essential to the human psyche as water and food.
How else to explain the extraordinary hardship and dangers endured
by the globe's migrant work force that traverses continents and great
oceans for just for a day's wage?

The issue of chronically high and prolonged youth unemployment is
global in scope, and it threatens the very stability of nation- states.
The young question the value of a nation that acts as a parasite that feeds
off of and kills individual initiative.

According to an August 2010 report from the UN's International
Labour Organization, out of the more than 600 million economically
active youth between the ages of sixteen to twenty-four, 81 million
were out of work by the end of 2009 and that number of idle was
expected to continue to grow through 2010.

Chronic unemployment among youth is happening even in parts of
the world that are supposed to be recovering faster from the "great
recession" such as Latin America. Sara Miller LLana in the Christian
Science Monitor writes of what experts are calling a "lost generation"
in Latin America. The UN International Labor Organization found that
20 percent of the young people in Latin America that would normally
be in the workforce or in school are doing neither.

In 2009 it was estimated that the economic crunch in Mexico forced
700,000 young people to drop out of school. The UN estimates that in
Argentina, Brazil and Uraguay those would be workers under 30 make
up 60 percent of the unemployed. And similar troubling trends are
reported in Europe that include evidence linking the chronic joblessness
to an increased incidence of homelessness.

Increasingly politicians in Washington, who already have a six-figure
job, see cutting of youth employment and training programs as a sure
way to hold on to their sinecure.

Young people aren't as reliable as senior citizens when it comes to
showing up at the polls, and they aren't known for their campaign cash
largesse either. So in American politics they remain as a kind of an
abstraction, unless they die serving the country.

"Hi, we are with the unemployed and under-employed youth of
America. Is the Senator in?"

Shayne Henry writing for the New America Foundation, observed
that during the last three years, youth unemployment in the U.S. was
at an all-time high. "The rate of joblessness among individuals aged
16-24 is highest level on record." While that 16-24 age cohort makes
up just 14 percent of the workforce, they now account for 25 percent
of the unemployed and 20 percent of the long-term unemployed.

For America and nations with Social Security-type social contracts
between the generations, this trend means that the next generation is
sidelined just as their earning power is needed to sustain the nations'

What good is this global market economy our leaders tell us must be
serviced at all costs, if it can only produce great wealth for some,
but not even an entry-level job for this planet's next generation?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Local TV New Harms Our Democracy

Local TV New Harms Our Democracy

Gary Tilzer

Local TV has moved way beyond happy talk and good looking clueless reporters. They now have become the instrument that the special interests communicate with the public and government leaders. Now the mayor whose has been attacked by the UFT and AFL-CIO in ads is running his own commercials. Ads have also been run by in support of the Cuomo budget by the big business back Committee to Save NY, The NYS Democratic Party and the governor himself. The mayors ad features the kind of upbeat music and imagery one would normally expect from a political front-runner. The union is not mentioned by name. Instead of being punished for their lack of objective analysis on Albany's budget battles the owners of the TV stations are now making millions from the mayor and other special iterests trying to win the budget battle.

Baruch College Prof. Doug Muzzio makes his usual dumb one liner quote for the press, "the ad makes it look like Bloomberg is running for something, but perhaps it’s the position of “independent wise man.” Prehaps Prof. Muzzio should love at what this issue ads are doing to our democracy. If we had more experienced investigative reporters there be less corruption in New York.

The Founding Fathers push Freedom of the Press to keep the government informed on what they government is up to. Can anyone say watching local TV keeps New Yorkers informed? Where is the Edward R. Murrow of this generation to critize TV News? It is not only a wasteland, it has become Orwellian, harmful to our democracy. Mike $trafes UFT in ad war(NYP)* Mayor Counters Teachers’ Ads With His Own (NYT) * Bloomberg Takes to the Airwaves(WSJ) * Bloomberg Defends His Administration With TV Ad (NY1) * The mayor is spending almost $1 million of his own cash to air the ad. * Bloomberg Government to hire 100+ journalists, analysts in D.C. * Bloomberg L.P. Forms Bloomberg Media Group * Cuomo releases new video message: . In loudest saber-rattling yet, warns of possibility of gov't shutdown.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Mike Bloomberg Running For Something? Updated

Despite the fact that he's insisted about a thousand times that he's not interested in the White House, you couldn't be faulted for getting the feeling Mayor Bloomberg's running for SOMETHING judging from this new ad he just bought himself.

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson gave NY1 a sneak peek at the SKD-produced ad, "Independence," earlier today, with the station saying it's a counterbalance to "the nearly $3 million in ads" that unions have aired against Bloomberg and his proposed budget (as well as teacher hiring and firing) in the last month. (And that's not even to mention his cringeworthy approval ratings.)

“One side has been presented on television and now it's time to present the other side,’’ Wolfson told “Inside City Hall” anchor Errol Louis. He also said this is not about either the presidency or -- gasp -- a fourth Bloomberg term: “The mayor has said repeatedly he's not running for anything else, this is his last job in elected office, but he is fighting to get his views out there."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

At My Age, I Just Can't Compete With The Younger, Competent Guys I Work With

By Don Rayner
March 22, 2011

I'm 51 years old, but I might as well be 100 when it comes to my workplace. These days, in a culture that values youth and the ability to competently do your job above all else, it's tougher than ever for an unqualified person my age to get by. How is someone like me supposed to survive in that environment when he's surrounded by younger guys way more capable, adaptable, and hardworking than he is?

It's getting to be ridiculous.

Stupid me, I used to think seniority mattered. But after three decades of just going through the motions day in and day out, along come these college-age hotshots whose biggest assets seem to be a birth certificate with 1987 on it and the capacity to do the same work I do much more efficiently and with a better attitude. I'd already been barely doing my job for years when these guys were still learning to read, excelling at their schoolwork, and turning in their assignments on time! And what's my reward? Playing second banana to a bunch of vastly superior young men who couldn't tell you the first thing about cutting corners!

Let's face it, it's 2011, and there's just no place for someone as advanced in age and terrible at his chosen profession as I am. Next stop, the nursing home, I guess.

For one thing, these kids were raised on computers, so they automatically have a huge advantage over geezers like me who still remember floppy disks and are far too lazy and entitled to learn even the basics of the new accounting software. They've also got more energy than I do, so of course they're going to get more done than some old fart who takes two-and-a-half-hour lunch breaks and constantly uses the office phone for personal calls.

Excuse me for having a few gray hairs and not meeting a deadline in the past 14 years.

And these inexperienced twentysomethings are like raw clay to management, waiting to be molded into whatever shape the higher-ups want. They look at the young guys, and then they look at me, with my wrinkles and my long, documented history of consistently failing to follow the most rudimentary directions, and guess who gets the promotion every time?

Ding, ding, ding! You win a prize if you said the rosy-cheeked tyke who's my better by any reliable measure of performance and who seems to truly care about this company in a way I have not in a very long time, if ever.

That's how it is, though. There's no bigger crime than hitting middle-age in a business climate where youth and not being hopelessly inept are king.

I can't help but think about my future sometimes—at least what's left of it. After all, I'm not getting any younger or more professionally adept. It's only a matter of time before my boss calls me in and tells me I'm being let go to make room for some 25-year-old go-getter who actually deserves to be working here. Sure, I'll protest, but it will only prolong the inevitable. Fact is, the day you turn 40 and hand in a really sloppy report for what seems like the hundredth consecutive time and then make up a dozen excuses as to why it wasn't your fault, the writing's already on the wall.

I don't blame the young guys for trying to make a splash. They're young and brash and still possess that sense of pride I haven't experienced since the first Bush administration. But while they might feel indestructible now, someday they'll be exactly like me: a paunchy old man who needs bifocals and made the unfortunate mistake of living long enough to be an out-of-touch relic of no use to anyone while also refusing to do anything to remain relevant.

And who clearly should never have been hired in the first place.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rachel Maddow: Michigan's Dystopian (Corporate Republican) Future

Host Rachel Maddow with guest Naomi Klein, 03/08/11. (image: MSNBC)
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
Rachel Maddow, with guest Naomi Klein, looks at Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's plans for Michigan that make what happened in Wisconsin look tame. -- ma/RSN

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More On Senator Carl Kruger and his 'family'

A Senator’s Shadow Family

Federal bribery charges have put a spotlight on the mysterious relationships among State Senator Carl Kruger, Dorothy Turano and her sons.

Dirty little secrets: City Council members have skirted laws, bent rules and abused their power

Sunday, March 20th 2011, 4:00 AM

Councilwoman Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan) owed $100,000 in back-property taxes.
Lombard for News
Councilwoman Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan) owed $100,000 in back-property taxes.
Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan).
Showalter for News
Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan).

More than a dozen City Council members have skirted laws, bent rules or used their positions to benefit themselves, a Daily News probe has found.

A three-month investigation found Council members who dodged taxes, violated the city's housing and building code, circumvented regulations to get cheap housing and, in one case, even ignored criminal bench warrants.

As part of the probe, The News reviewed thousands of pages of records regarding judgments, liens, tax history, property ownership, building and housing code violations, campaign finance and financial disclosure.

And while the Council's 51 members - one of whom is under indictment - routinely make laws on everything from smoking in public to recycling trash, The News found many have a history of ignoring the letter of the law.

Confronted by the News, several Council members admitted they'd made mistakes in judgment and promised to rectify them.

"There is no excuse," said one.

"To me, my integrity means a lot," said another.

Among the findings, to be detailed in The News over three days:

  • Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Queens) has two outstanding arrest warrants on pending criminal charges. He's also a deadbeat dad who owes more than $27,000.
  • Four Council members - Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx), Mathieu Eugene (D-Brooklyn), Peter Koo (R-Queens) and Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) - get tax breaks by claiming a primary residence outside their districts. Council members are required to live in their districts.
  • Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) is about to move into a luxury condo building where she used taxpayer dollars to resolve a conflict with a neighboring building over garbage. She's also been sued repeatedly for nonpayment of rent.
  • Councilwoman Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan) owed $100,000 in back-property taxes - some dating to 2009 - and has been cited repeatedly for unsafe conditions in Harlem apartment buildings she owns. She's also been accused of hiding assets to dodge estate taxes.
  • Councilman Eric Dilan (D-Brooklyn) got into affordable housing that's supposed to go to families making no more than $114,000. At the time, he and his wife made $160,000. The building owner is a campaign donor.
  • Councilman Williams twice ignored city inspectors investigating allegations he has an illegally converted apartment in a building he owns.
  • Councilman Larry Seabrook (D-Bronx) is under indictment for running a shakedown scheme and illegally pocketing cash, including collecting $177 in expenses - for a $7 bagel and diet soda - from a political club he runs. He has denied wrongdoing.
  • Several Council members are swimming in debt, including James Sanders (D-Queens), who faces eviction because the $588,000 home he bought with no money down is in foreclosure. Sanders rails against "predatory lenders" without revealing his own precarious situation.
  • Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) has a one-third interest in at least one Puerto Rico rental condo, but reports no income. Members are supposed to report any income over $1,000 per year.

    At first she told The News she was co-owner of two rental condos: a three-bedroom worth as much as $500,000 near the beach in the upscale tourist area of Condado, and a one-bedroom in secluded Punta Las Marias worth up to $250,000.

    Ian Malinow, a real estate broker in San Juan, said the larger unit could get $1,500 to $2,000 a month, the smaller one $1,000 a month.

    Mark-Viverito first said both condos were rentals. Asked why she reported no income, she replied: "You don't have to report income."

    After being told she must report any income over $1,000 a year, she changed her story, saying only one condo generated income, and all of that went to her mother due to an "oral agreement" they had.
  • Seven Council members pay rent to themselves or to entities controlled by relatives for campaign offices.
  • Mixing politics and city business is fairly common. Eight City Council members use Council employees as campaign treasurers; 10 others use city employees to oversee their campaigns. This is legal, although city workers must do all political work on their own time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

City effort to enlist parents in politics began months ago

Published on March 17th, 2011

For months, Department of Education employees have been trying to mobilize parents to public meetings and to sign petitions in support of city political goals, parent coordinators said today.

Evidence of that effort came to light yesterday after a staff member of the DOE’s parent outreach office distributed a petition to hundreds of parent coordinators urging state lawmakers to abolish the current seniority-based teacher layoff system. City officials renounced the petition and said that political organizing would stop going forward.

But parent coordinators from schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens said today that the Office of Family Information and Action’s push to have parent coordinators politically mobilize parents began months ago and that the message was spread by several OFIA staffers. The coordinators spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their positions at their schools.

In January, OFIA held a parent organizing workshop for parent coordinators in Manhattan. Staffers did not mention advocating against the current layoff system at that meeting, said a parent coordinator who shared detailed notes taken at the session. Instead, staff focused on asking the coordinators to build relationships with satisfied parents who would be willing to show support for the DOE at Panel for Educational Policy meetings.

“I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone, honestly, and I didn’t really trust my own ears, so I wrote things down,” the parent coordinator said.

OFIA officials said that they were frustrated that the panel meetings — which have been frequently contentious — have been dominated by parents angry at city policies. OFIA staff encouraged parent coordinators to bring “Happy Harry” parents to citywide meetings, according to the parent coordinator’s notes, rather than “Angry Sally” parents.

Another parent coordinator said she attended a training session a month later, as the city’s debate over seniority layoffs was heating up. One of the items on the session’s agenda was “parent organizing.” Both Jaclyn Berryman — the OFIA staffer who distributed the petition against seniority-based layoffs this week — and Melissa Harris, a senior organizer for community and strategic partnerships at OFIA, spoke.

According to the parent coordinator’s notes, Berryman led a discussion of identifying a “core base” of parents. Harris told the coordinators that they would receive a petition around March 20 in advance of the public school system’s Lobby Week in Albany. She also asked them to launch a letter writing campaign with their parents urging lawmakers not to cut state education spending and to end seniority-based layoffs.

Several parent coordinators said that while they have organized parents to attend Lobby Week in Albany in previous years, this was the first time they had been asked to advocate a specific position. The position of parent coordinator was created under former Chancellor Joel Klein to serve as a liaison between schools and families.

City officials did not dispute the coordinators’ accounts but refused to say who in the DOE started the push for parent lobbying or whether the organizing had been approved by OFIA’s director Ojeda Hall. A spokesman would say only that the department stood by its statement yesterday, which said that neither Mayor Michael Bloomberg nor Chancellor Cathie Black approved the political organizing.

The city teachers union, which has been battling to retain seniority layoff protections, has strongly criticized the DOE for allowing the petition to be circulated. Today union chief Michael Mulgrew formally asked the Special Commissioner of Investigation, Richard Condon, to examine the city’s political organizing.

“Although the DOE presently indicates that it has abandoned its use of the above-described petitions — presumably in recognition of their wrongful nature — investigation into this matter is still warranted in order to determine the extent to which public resources were diverted to this end and who at the DOE authorized this conduct,” Mulgrew wrote.

Letter to Condon 3-17-11

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kruger Scandal Gets Cute

Kruger crony leaned on me for vote: pol

Compliments of a reader, an anime version of Sen. Carl Kruger and “Real Estate Deverloper No. 1 (AKA, it’s fairly ceratin, Bruce Bender of Forest City Ratner) discussing how to use $4 million of worth of taxpayer funds for a variety of projects – including the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

All the dialogue is lifted directly from the US attorney’s criminal complaint against Kruger, Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., lobbyist Richard Lipsky et al.

Print article This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on March 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm, and is filed under Albany, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response.

Libya no-fly zone prompts Moammar Khadafy to close airspace in defiance of UN decision

Friday, March 18th 2011, 8:58 AM

Moammar Khadafy has said "there will be no mercy or compassion" for those who resist as his troops advanced to the besieged city.
RTP Portugal TV/AP
Moammar Khadafy has said "there will be no mercy or compassion" for those who resist as his troops advanced to the besieged city.

Moammar Khadafy closed Libyan airspace Friday in defiance of the West's plans to impose a no-fly zone over the country.

Hours after the UN authorized "all necessary measures" to protect the Libyan people, Europe's air traffic agency issued a statement saying Tripoli has closed its air space to all flights.

Eurocontrol said it had no information on how long Libya's airspace would remain closed but told airlines all air traffic was halted for at least 24 hours.

"We applied a zero traffic rate for the whole day," an offical said, on condition of anonymity.

The UN Security Council approved the no-fly zone Thursday as a "humanitarian gesture," forcing Moammar Khadafy to immediately call off merciless aerial attacks to crush the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Britain announced on Friday that it will send fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone. France has also said it will provide military help.

President Obama telephoned British and French leaders last night on how to coordinate the military response.

The U.S. already has a significant military presence in the area and several ships off Libya.

Before the vote, the Libyan strongman proclaimed that the "hour of decision has come" and "there will be no mercy or compassion" for those who resist as his troops advanced to the besieged city.

"The matter has been decided. ... We are coming," he said in a telephone call to state television.

Following the UN measure, which authorizes "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from attacks by Khadafy's men - including air and sea strikes - Libyan leaders abruptly changed tactics.

Khadafy's son, Saif al-Islam, said the army would not be entering Benghazi after all.

"It's going to take up positions around the stronghold. The reason is they expect a humanitarian exodus," CNN reported the son saying.

A British Typhoon fighter jet. Ministry of Defence

The Security Council voted 10-0, with Russia, China and Germany among the five abstaining.

The news was met with celebrations and fireworks in Benghazi, and Al Jazeera television showed residents in the city's center waving flags and shouting defiance against Khadafy.

"The Libyan people want a no-fly zone, we want them to target Khadafy's forces, his positions, but we don't want any troops on our land. We don't want to be like Iraq," said protester Mustafa Safez. "We will win this war, and we are not afraid of him any more."

The resolution marked an about-face for the U.S., which earlier had avoided calling for military action.

"Today the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people's cry for help," said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.

Some Arab states, including Qatar and United Arab Emirates, could be among the countries joining the international coalition, the Arab League's UN representative said.

In recent days, Khadafy's forces have pounded the rebels, using rockets, artillery, tanks and warplanes.

With News Wire Services

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish-Americans Gear Up For 'The Reinforcin' O' The Sterieotypes':Ask Mayor Bloomberg

Nuclear Energy Advocates Insist U.S. Reactors Completely Safe Unless Something Bad Happens

March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON—Responding to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sought Thursday to reassure nervous Americans that U.S. reactors were 100 percent safe and posed absolutely no threat to the public health as long as no unforeseeable system failure or sudden accident were to occur. "With the advanced safeguards we have in place, the nuclear facilities in this country could never, ever become a danger like those in Japan, unless our generators malfunctioned in an unexpected yet catastrophic manner, causing the fuel rods to melt down," said NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko, insisting that nuclear power remained a clean, harmless energy source that could only lead to disaster if events were to unfold in the exact same way they did in Japan, or in a number of other terrifying and totally plausible scenarios that have taken place since the 1950s. "When you consider all of our backup cooling processes, containment vessels, and contingency plans, you realize that, barring the fact that all of those safety measures could be wiped away in an instant by a natural disaster or electrical error, our reactors are indestructible." Jaczko added that U.S. nuclear power plants were also completely guarded against any and all terrorist attacks, except those no one could have predicted.

The National Arts Club’s Racist, Crazy, Bird-Murdering Hoarder President Takes a ‘Vacation’

10,608 views, Mar 16, 2011 2:29 PM


W. Aldon James Jr. has been the president of the National Arts Club, a tony and pretentious group of New York City "arts" lovers, for 20 years. Lately he's turned crazy and, according to a former employee, very racist!

James' tenure running the club for the past few years has featured a string of high-profile and bizarre embarrassments—from the junk-filled apartments upstairs at the club's high-end Gramercy Park mansion to his apparent involvement in the mysterious deaths of dozens of baby finches in Gramercy Park to his brother's illegal misappropriation of the club's non-profit status to pump up his jewelry business—and yesterday the club's board finally decided that he would take a "leave of absence" and "well-earned vacation" while it sorts through the mess.

According to a former club staffer we talked to, the leave has been a long time coming: "Aldon suffers from serious, serious mental problems that have gone untreated," the staffer said. "He's not just eccentric. He's certifiably crazy."

That craziness manifests itself in part through racism, according to the staffer. "We had a Japanese girl who worked here for a while," the staffer said. "Aldon hated her. He used to call her 'Tokyo Rose' and 'that Jap.' There was an African-American employee that he constantly joked about being a drug dealer—he called her a 'white powder heiress.'"

James was essentially, the staffer said, a crazy old coot given to showing up at the club's hoity-toity black-tie events "in a ragged coat, dirty shirt, smelling terribly and wearing a wool skull cap." He compulsively collected tchochkes and stuffed them into the club's unoccupied upstairs apartments, resulting in unsafe caves full of junk that twice drew the attention of New York City fire marshals. And the club's downstairs office space, which are open to staff and more likely to be seen by the public, was no better (the photo above is of the office).

James had virtually total control over the club's $2.6 million budget, and he wielded it as a crazy old coot would: "He was writing blank checks to vendors at flea markets where he'd buy all his filthy old junk," the staffer said. "There was no accountability, no receipts." According to the New York Post, the club's finances are under investigation by both the city and state of New York.

James is officially just on leave, but it's widely expected that he'll be permanently fired. Trouble is, he has no where else to go. "He's lived at the club for nearly 40 years, and been president for 20," the staffer says.

A call to James was referred to a publicist, who did not respond to an e-mail.

Where is Bruce Bender in this Indictment?

Kruger crony leaned on me for vote: polBruceBender.jpg

Kruger crony leaned on me for vote: pol

A Forest City Ratner executive whose cozy relationship with state Sen. Carl Kruger is featured in a new criminal complaint against the Brooklyn politician personally lobbied a Yonkers councilman hours before a controversial vote that later led to... 7:59 AM

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Long Decline of Richard Lipsky

March 15, 2011 | 7:44 p.m

Just after evening came to the city last Friday, Richard Lipsky appeared in the lobby of the Normandy on Riverside Drive. Gone was the Bluetooth headset that seemed welded to his ear as he conducted his business in the lobby of City Hall or the State Capitol. Gone, too, was the thick red leather-bound restaurant-reservation-style book that Mr. Lipsky used to keep appointments for the one-man lobbying shop that battered and bent governors, mayors and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Instead of one of his famously dark suits, Mr. Lipsky was wearing a gray tracksuit with red stripes and sneakers; a gold chain peeked out at the neckline of a white undershirt. The bags under his eyes were larger than usual, and the eyes themselves stained a kind of bright red. He put his hand on The Observer's shoulder and guided us out into the still-gathering darkness of 86th Street, past the earshot of the doormen watching over one of the city's premier Art Deco addresses, where he owns a $1.6 million apartment.

The day before, Mr. Lipsky had surrendered to federal prosecutors who accused him of using his clients' money to buy off Carl Kruger, a powerful state senator from Brooklyn. Investigators found more than $100,000 in Mr. Lipsky's home safe and more than $4,000 in cash stuffed in a suit pocket.

His lawyer instructed him to not to talk to the press, but he advised us to read some of the clippings about him and to talk to his clients.

"I like to fight for the underdog," he said, before disappearing back inside. "That's just who I am."

In the hours following Mr. Lipsky's indictment, the press portrayed him as a powerhouse lobbyist who had met a sudden and surprising end only when it was discovered that he was lining the pockets of a legislator to help "the little guys"-the mostly minority small-business owners that he represented.

The truth is more complicated. Mr. Lipsky, the son of a theatrical press agent who holds a Ph.D. in political science, struck many as a strange figure around City Hall. He eschewed the shmoozing, backslapping manner of most lobbyists. People who have known him for decades can't ever recall him mentioning anything about his family or his home. He had no assistant, no fancy conference room, preferring instead to communicate via cell phone and over email and meet wherever his clients or lawmakers were. He bragged about his relationship to Mr. Kruger and his allies in the Senate, known as the Four Amigos, even though they shut down state government for a month in 2009, and now a majority of that little group are ensnared in serious ethical violations.

"I don't think you will talk to anybody around here who will tell you they are very surprised about this," one council member said. "He just had a certain way about him, the way he spoke, the way he talked to people, that was just sort of weasely. He became much more aggressive and pushy as the years went on."
Lobbying is by its a nature a sordid affair, but Mr. Lipsky always seemed to hold himself to a higher standard. The term "messianic" came up more than a few times by those who have worked with him, and his colleagues noted his willingness to skewer opponents.

But over the past several years, Mr. Lipsky kept up the harsh denunciations of deep-pocketed city players while simultaneously courting them. The self-styled David parlayed his small-business community contacts to help Forest City Ratner develop Atlantic Yards, and paved the way for Target's expansion into East Harlem. And, more recently, Mr. Lipsky approached the Committee to Save New York, the coalition of monied business groups behind Governor Andrew Cuomo's efforts to curb spending and lower taxes, selling himself as the defender of the little guy who would bring them credibility with the larger public.

"He changed from someone who was very much a champion of the underdog to become much more of a mercenary who needed constant self-promotion," said one colleague.

Mr. Lipsky always had a knack for getting into the newspapers, mainly for his willingness to resort to bombast and hyperbole, and when that failed, he took to his blog, Mom and Pop NYC, which he updated and emailed out to reporters several times a day. There, he compared one lawmaker to a Nazi; accused the city's Department of Health of "maniacal overreach" for starting an ad campaign that warned of the dangers of excessive drinking; and said Mayor Bloomberg was exploiting 9/11 families in his defense of the ground zero mosque. Unlike most consultants, who would advise their clients on what to say, Mr. Lipsky always seemed to make sure that he got his own name in the newspapers, often followed by one of his own typically bombastic quotes. In time, it seemed he was grinding his own axes instead of working for his clients. He was removed, for example, by a coalition of groups looking to fight the mayor's congestion pricing plan when he was unable to keep from making scorched-earth comments about Mr. Bloomberg's and the plan's supporters.

"It is not necessary to go out and give your opponents a leg up by engaging in personal and ad hominem attacks," said Walter McCaffrey, a fellow lobbyist who helped form the group. "Unfortunately he ended up not following that a couple of times."

Although Mr. Lipsky fashioned himself as a dragon slayer, he lost most of his crusades-Willets Point, green carts, the rezoning of Flushing, the Columbia expansion-and political insiders began to see him as little more than a parody of himself.

"In the city, he had kind of become irrelevant," said one administration official. "He made a lot of noise, but he was largely someone to be ignored. You just had to give the people he was lobbying ammunition to deal with attacks, and then he would go so over the top with his blog statements and his statements in the press that it was hard for people to take him seriously."

Over time, Mr. Lipsky had so alienated City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with his bombast that City Hall insiders say he was eventually forced to go around her and lobby individual members to press his bills, which of course infuriated the speaker's office and further marginalized Mr. Lipsky.

"He was so unabashedly anti-Bloomberg and anti-Quinn, I can't imagine anybody thought he would ever get anything done," said one.

In 2008, Mr. Lipsky was one of a few lobbyists to oppose the Council's efforts to extend term limits, a sign, politicos say, of how much his influence had waned.

Unlike Mr. Lipsky, most lobbyists wanted those in office to stay-they relied on these relationships for business. He had burned so many bridges that he needed a whole new crop of lawmakers. It makes sense, then, they say, that Mr. Lipsky would be caught handing cash over to a longtime outer-borough lawmaker. It was the only way he could get anyone to take his calls.

"He wanted to start representing the fat cats, but because he was so obnoxious and aggressive, he didn't have that many successes," said longtime lobbyist Norman Adler. "When you are under pressure like that, you pull out all the stops."