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Tales From The Current Crypt
February 18, 2005: As winter wanes, spend the last grey evenings curled up with tales from the crypt of current events. But be warned. You could find yourself wondering if those halting steps on the stairs are those of your loyal family retainer-- or of some hideously deformed public servant of the devil.

Scream Deanula Scream!

Though Howard Dean had the support of some of New Jersey's most twisted pols in his 2004 presidential primary race and is the recipient of considerable largesse from a number of unlovesome contributors, I still say yay he's the new DNC Chairman. In an age of chicken poo pols who poll watch their words, Dean brings to mind the days when politicians were people rather than composites. When they had opinions that could actually be discerned. Unlike many Dems, Dean hasn't waffled about Iraq. And though his social nostrums tend to smack of same old same old, his much decried 2004 comment about how Dems need to reach guys with Confederate flags on their pick-ups was right on the money. Which is what most people in those trucks don't have. Thanks largely to our who-needs-em attitude re blue collar jobs and taxes taxes taxes. In Dean's home state of Vermont and rural sections of upstate New York you often see pick-up trucks sporting Confederate flags. Sometimes those flags even fly in front of people's homes. Drivers and dwellers therein aren't whistling Dixie nor are they nostalgic for slavery. Instead they see the Confederate flag as a pop in the eye to a liberal elite that fusses over speech, tobacco and guns-- and is always ready to take taxes from, and support policies that limit the opportunities of, a class of people they despise.

Will Dean actually try to convince Democrats to reach out to the confederate-flag-on-the-pickup crowd? Maybe not. A lot of his current political support seems to come from people who fuss over speech, tobacco and guns. None the less, it's still good that Dean raised the issue of the Democratic Party's divorce from people it used to represent. Particularly in light of the great 2004 election divide. The controversial terms in which he framed the issue made it all the more attention grabbing. As for Iraq, here's hoping Dem wafflers and hawks don't drive a stake through Dean's anti-war heart.

I Eat Your Skin-- But Not in Albany

New York Governor George Pataki and his wife Libby call their house in Putnam County home. Even though it's 100 miles away from the Guv's official digs in the state capital of Albany. Albanian new urbanites, particularly those who live in the neighborhood surrounding the Governor's Mansion, have long fumed over the fact that Pataki & spouse don't hang in the nabe. Seeing it as a snub. Now they have more reason to seeth. Seems that the food cooked for the Guv and his missus at the taxpayer funded Albany residence, is "on occasion" being delivered to their home in Putnam. Not only does the long haul for Pataki take-out speak volumes about the persnicketiness of George & Libby, it has also raised questions about the food hauler. Due to the fact that her salary is paid by the New York State Republican Party's housekeeping committee. Is this dinner bringer Libby's maid? Or her assistant? If the answer is "maid" the salary situation reeks. If "assistant" it reeks less strongly. Huh?

The Republican housekeeping committee you see, is not really a house keeping committee in the Hazel sense. Instead, it's a hole in the corner where corporations who do business with the state go to donate. Both parties in New York State have such committees and both use them to pass contributions to politicians through the back door of campaign finance restrictions. Though some argue such activities are not actually illegal, others compare it to money laundering. In the 02/17/05 NYTimes, Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group said "I sometimes wonder if lawmakers have learned too much from the RICO statute". Though my take is that lawmakers have learned more from the people against whom the RICO statute is most typically applied.

But back to the maid thing. As said, some feel the situation smells better if the person who hauls dinner 100 miles to the Pataki homestead is an assistant. Presumably on the grounds that salary for an "assistant" seems like a more respectable expenditure for a political slush fund. Whereas paying a "maid" hints of corporate-funded excess. As if the Pataki's might secretly be into Bernie Ebberesque ice sculptures. With Libby chortling "let me eat cake" as her weary maid/assistant collapses on the Putnam doorstep.

The Incredible 2 Headed AG Transplant

Last Summer, when Albany County Prosecutor David Soares was in the Democratic primary race for his current position, his campaign accepted a hefty amount of financial support from the Working Families Party (WFP). In October, State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Malone ruled the support was illegal since it violated a New York State election law forbidding one party to interfere in the primary of another. Though Soares and his campaign were not held culpable for taking the support, WFP was declared to be in the wrong for giving it. Judge Malone referred the case to local prosecutors (now the office headed by David Soares) and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for a possible criminal action. To my knowledge, nothing further has come of it. But then, both Soares and Spitzer are very busy men. Eliot Spitzer is a well known Wall Street corruption buster and is in the race to be the next governor of New York. On January 22nd, he received the endorsement of the Working Families Party. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester is eying the upcoming AG vacancy. Brodsky has compared his work pursuing political wrong doing (Erie Canal: low bid, everybody down!) to that of Eliot Spitzer re Wall Street. But please sir-- can we have both types of AG in one body?

Though if half an AG is the only option, I'll take the half who focuses on political malfeasance. Businesses come and go. But politicians are forever.

The Section 8 Body Snatcher

For truly hoary pols check Springfield, Massachusetts. Where Gerald A. Phillips, the city's X chairman of the Springfield Police Commission and X director of the Massachusetts Career Development Institute (a taxpayer supported trade school) is standing trial on federal corruption charges. Among other things, Phillips was allegedly bumping female Institute students (aka shack mates) to the top of Springfield's Section 8 Housing voucher list. But Phillips was not always so caring. He allegedly told one inamorata from the Institute "she'd never be seen again" if she appeared before a grand jury. In mid February the Phillips prosecution rested. Though apparently Phillips rarely did.

The Phillips case is one piece of a wider corruption probe that reaches back into the administration of X Mayor Mike Albano. A consistent theme has been housing. In mid January, former city councilor Francis G. Keough joined the roster of the indicted. Charged with extorting contractors at the homeless shelter he managed. According to one witness, Keough at times used the homeless as free labor. Which might be called "slave labor". Other Springfield indictment alumnus include, but are not limited to, X Springfield Housing Authority Director Ray Asselin and 8 of his family members. Including X State Representative Christopher Asselin. All allegedly looted the housing projects Ray administered. Right down to quarters from the basement washing machines.

On February 17th events in Springfield took a horror movie turn when federal investigators swarmed over the grounds of the Riverview Apartment Complex, a public project run by the Springfield Housing Authority. Acting on information obtained from an unnamed source, agents in orange jump suits dug a four foot pit. From it they removed 4 jars containing fetuses in different stages of development. X housing authority official Arthur G. Sotirion, who until he was indicted with Ray Asselin, oversaw maintenance at the agency made no comment to the press about the discovery. Nor did Ray Asselin.

Springfield, a one time thriving industrial center is now a thriving drug trade center. Number 18 of the top 25 most dangerous cities in the USA according to Morgan Quitno's "City Crime Rating" a reference work based on FBI crime stats. The stats were compiled in 2003. By then Gerald Phillips had already been indicted and was no longer Chairman of The Springfield Police Commission. Too bad. Because if he'd been on the job criminals would have been screwed.

Plan 9 From Urban Space

Funny how often and in how many cities violent crime, HUD fraud and public corruption go together. It makes you wonder if there's some sort of fiendish plot being run by space aliens in aluminum suits. Of course, it could just be the natural convergence of graft, money laundering, housing scams and drug trade. Topped off with a generous dollop of radical evil.

Next issue: He Who Gets SLAPPed in Jersey. Till then--

Klaatu Barada Nikto! And then some.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

"They did the Mash/They did the Monster Mash/The Monster Mash/ It was a graveyard smash"

"Monster Mash," Bobby "Boris" Pickett, 1962

"..I'm just out there playing on fumes right now"

Shaquille O' Neal 05/04

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Copyright (c) 2005 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.

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