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Dogs, Guns & Cheese
September 7, 2006: As summer waned and primary elections drew nigh, New York State Democrats got a pair of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's shoes in the mail. Though the dog days dogs were merely pictorial, they still smelt like mail order Limburger. But don't blame gubernatorial candidate Spitzer. He didn't send the shoes. He sends his cheese by TV. In campaign commercials oozing Velveeta. Touting how during his stint as AG in the admin of Republican Governor George Pataki, Spitzer stood up to the powerful and greedy. To defend the little guy. Who he? You & me. But despite our wimpy microscopic condition, a Spitzer commercial predicts that come election day, "he will ask, and you [we] will answer." Here's the rub; will our gnat-like voices be audible? As AG, Spitzer barely responded to the buzz about crony-cozy state development deals and Medicaid fraud. Though he did tongue lash a few non-profit profiteers and public contractors...

But back to the other dogs. If the Friend-To-All-Munchkins didn't send them, who did? The answer is attorney general wannabe Andrew Cuomo, on a campaign flyer for himself. Over a pic of a pair of shoes, a banner declares "Eliot Spitzer is leaving some very big shoes to fill." Inside the flyer lie reasons why Andy Boy's feet will fit. But before buying his Cinderella reasons to believe, take a long look at those shovels. How do we know they actually belong to Eliot Spitzer? Nowhere on the flyer is there a sworn statement to that effect. Until Spitzer steps forward and says yes, those shoes are mine, Andrew Cuomo's claims should be viewed as suspect.

Other reasons to be cautious include Andy's record as head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are plenty of lending professionals, plus government officials in various oversight positions, who beg to differ with Cuomo's claim to have reformed HUD. The FHA mortgage frauds and defaults being bounced back to lending institutions speak volumes about Cuomo's stewardship of HUD home ownership programs. As do flipped-out strips of inflated inner city slums. Sure, the frauds, flops and flips speak loudly about many Huddies-- pre & post Cuomo. But he's the one on the brag, running to be New York's top bunco detector.

Then there's his rep for being nasty and mean-spirited. Which seems born out by his depiction of Eliot Spitzer as Big Foot.

On the other hand, Charles King, former regional HUD head for New York and New Jersey, seems to think the world of his ex-boss Andy. Until recently, King also wanted to be the Democrats' AG candidate. In 2002, King ran for lieutenant governor on the Cuomo for governor ticket. If Cuomo/King had won, New York would now have 2, 2, 2 HUD heads of state! But King, a top exec at Praxis, a Manhattan based not-for-profit company involved with public funded housing initiatives, seems fated to be an also-ran in politics. After showing up 3rd in polls (behind former NYC Consumer Affairs Commissioner Mark Green) King dropped out of the AG race and endorsed front runner Cuomo. In tones so ringing you have to wonder why he ran at all.

Andrew Cuomo followed the mailing of the shoes allegedly Spitzer's, with a collection of guns. New York State Republicans can breath easy tho; they were only campaign lit pics. A guy who "took on the NRA to get the illegal guns off our streets" sure as shooting wouldn't send a bunch of blasters to who knows who.

When head of HUD in the late 90's, Andy took guns out of public housing with his famous Gun Buy-Back Program. The 15 million dollar program was paid for with drug elimination funds intended for HUD housing projects. It worked like this: if anyone in or around a housing project (within feet or miles wasn't clear) turned in a gun they were paid between 50 and 100 dollars. No questions asked, anonymity guaranteed. If any of the weapons had committed crimes, so be it. Folks weren't required to rat out the guns controlling their hands. A good thing too-- it stopped the guns' peeps from pulling revenge pops. (Though a lot of Buy-Back guns were dysfunctional pieces of crap and may not have commanded this level of loyalty.)

Bad guns! Into the melting pot they went. But more desirable ones, such as collectable war souvenirs turned in by widows of veterans, or good quality hunting and home defense weapons boosted by addicts seeking a quik fix of drug elimination money, sometimes went home with those overseeing the gathering o' the guns. And some gun-driven crims gathering buy-back cash applied it to purchasing a new boss same as the old boss. Albeit one in better shape. Which is why the Gun Buy-Back Program wound up being called the Gun Trade-In Program.

Be it Buy-Back or Trade-In, the Cuomo program ultimately bit the dust. There was no proof buy-backs reduced violent crime in or around housing projects, and diverting HUD funds specifically earmarked for drug elimination to another purpose was deemed unconstitutional. But fans of the buy-back need not give up the dream. Some crime ridden cities still pay good money for bad guns. Using public funds expressly intended for enhancing other peoples' gun collections. Meanwhile, out on the streets, roscoes still go pow pow in the hands of their helpless hosts.

Speaking of hands, in the upstate New York 108th Assembly District, which includes communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties, voters inclined to the Independence or Conservative line, got a pair of hands in the mail. Not a gruesome calling card from some mobster (there is no organized crime in the 108th Assembly District) but another hit of political lit. One of the pictured hands is putting money in the other. Beneath the image the word CORRUPTION is emblazoned in red. The typeface looks as though it's crumbling, as if to suggest the imminent collapse of civilization. The flyer touts the reforming zeal of one Martin Reid, a candidate for State Assembly. Reid is pictured addressing elderly people. With great sincerity. The phrase "property tax relief" jumps out of the text in red. By sin of info omission the flyer suggests Reid is an independent kind of guy. Maybe even a fresh face on the political scene. But with a magnifying glass one discovers that it (the flyer, not Reid's face) was funded and mailed by the New York Republican State Committee.

Republican Martin Reid has served 3 terms on the Rensselaer County Legislature. He and his fellow county legislators voted themselves a pay raise last spring, despite the fact that county residents are feeling the pinch of tax increases. Across the Hudson River from Rensselaer County lies the capital city of Albany, the seat of state government. As candidate for the State Assembly, Reid has received the endorsement of the Capital Region's-- and the state's-- most prominent machine Republicans. Including gubernatorial candidate John Faso and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Rensselear County is Joe Bruno's home turf. Senator Bruno, along with Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver (Democrat) and Republican Governor George Pataki, squat atop the state government described so accurately in Assembly candidate Martin Reid's campaign flyer:

"Government in Albany is out of control. Fraud, waste and abuse are running rampant. And it's costing us millions in new, higher taxes. It's time for a change."

Considering the source, cynics might call this bit of campaign prose a Cheese Whiz. I prefer to think of it as a heart felt confession. And a cry for help. With the Republican State Committee stepping forward and speaking for both parties. Only question is, now that they've asked, will we answer?

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Mondo QT

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Copyright (c) 2006 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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