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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