October 27, 2004: The big day looms. The race is almost over. Bush and Kerry look
winded. Running is tuff when carrying trays loaded with war and
public money. Bush will keep us safe. Kerry will take care of
us. Each wants to be our waitron. But self-service buffets are
a strip mall phenom. Still-- waitrons look cute in costume.
Hooters for Bush. Chicken Lickin' for Kerry. Raise the dead,
here comes Edwards! Cheney curses and revs up his hog. If he
gets canned he'll just hit the road.
Lesser lights take secondary highways. In late October, Robert
Bruno (brother of New York State Republican Majority Leader
Joe) quit his job as executive director of the Road to Recovery.
A NYS drug rehab program which puts non violent drug dealers in
neighborhoods instead of prisons. Bob Bruno's Road to Recovery
office was in Saratoga Springs, a very nice nabe indeed. It
was rented from a limited liability company (LLC). A form of
business incorporation some call the first refuge of scoundrels.
The lease was signed by the town chairman of the Saratoga Springs
Republican committee, on behalf of the LLC. The tenant was NYS
government. The rent: $54,400 yearly. Cheaper space could have
been found in Albany, where state government happens. Sort of.
Or if Robert Bruno, like Governor George Pataki, didn't want to
be in downtown Albany, he could have gone for an empty K-Mart on
a nearby highway. Word has it Big K leaves its PA systems behind:
"Attention Road to Recovery non violent drug dealers-- vouchers
for housing near public schools are available on Aisle 5."
Robert Bruno says his resignation had nothing to do with the
brouhaha that erupted over his Spa City office: he left because
he wanted to do volunteer work to "help people overcome drug and
alcohol addiction". Since addiction to public money doesn't yet
qualify as a disability, Bruno will have to go through his own
withdrawal with no government assistance. One day at a time
Lord, one day at a time.
Downstate and west in Middletown, New York, Mayor Joseph
DeStefano is praying local voters will overturn mayoral term
limits on election day. Though victory might be a moot point
should Mayor Joe's 52 count indictments bear federal fruit. The
Mayor, the town's Economic Development Director and a city judge
are under indictment for allegedly playing with U.S. Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) commercial loans. The judge was once town
counsel and lawyer to DeStefano. Over the 7 years DeStafano has
been in office, the mayor, the judge and the development guy
supposedly juggled loans and leasing arrangements. While engaging
in (gasp) conspiratorial conduct. Mayor DeStefano is bearing up
well under his legal problems. Being no stranger to indictments
may help. In '89, then Alderman DeStefano was indicted in an
illegal betting investigation. He was cleared in that case and
no doubt, will be now. Mayor Joe knows this federal case is just
an attempt by local Republicans to unseat him. Like he told the
Middletown Times Herald-Record: "There's an old saying that if
you throw enough stuff against the wall, something will stick."
Earlier this year Mayor DeStefano's father, Louis "Chi-Chi"
DeStefano, had a lot of stuff thrown against his wall when
the feds arrested him on illegal gambling charges-- as part
of a larger investigation by numerous federal and state law
enforcement agencies into NYC metropolitan area activities of
the Columbo crime family. According to the U.S. Attorney's
press release, that investigation led to a related criminal
organization headed by one Patrick Maguire. Under the leadership
of Maguire, Chi-Chi, plus some compatriots named Iceman,
Lollipop and the classic "Louie" were allegedly operating
a large scale illegal gambling ring.
Question: When casinos and legalized gambling come to former
Catskill Mountain resort areas like Middletown, will names such
as "Lollipop" go the way of the dodo? Or only become more common?
Another question: Should state representatives who help put
their district's allotted HUD funds into iffy fingers be held
financially responsible for poor judgement?
Over the past few years corruption charges in Connecticut swept
Governor John Rowland, Mayor Joseph Ganim, Mayor Phil Giordano
and a host of other public servants out of office. As result,
a public integrity unit was created in the chief state attorney's
office. The unit is now looking into contracting processes of the
administration of Mayor Dannel P. Malloy of Stamford. According
to the October 24th Stamford Advocate, the investigation may be
connected to a larger probe by the U.S. Attorney's office into
the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT contracts
in Waterbury and New Haven are under scrutiny. Four DOT big wigs
have been put on paid leave: an audit turned up oddities in how
state contracts, banking accounts, invoices and bidding
processes were handled.
Until recently issues of public corruption in Connecticut were
mainly left to federal authorities. Over the past few years the
feds did a stellar job. When news of federal corruption
investigations in Connecticut first broke, the response was
often a wink and a shrug. It was said they'd go nowhere. But
as convictions rolled in and the threat of impeachment loomed
for Governor Rowland, reality dawned. Hey-- we have a corruption
PROBLEM. Many residents of Connecticut are now actively seeking
reform. Hopefully, the search won't lead into partisan channels.
Where corruption is only a problem with the other guy's party.
A pu-pu platter served frequently during election years.
Given the effect partisanship can have on state corruption
investigations (or non-investigations) the federal take out menu
should remain on the peoples' fridge. The feds aren't perfect or
always unbiased. Some regional outposts are better than others.
But in places where corruption rises to the level of a denial
of civil rights, the feds can cut through local bull conners.
Among the pols, players and patroons QT has covered, a number
stand out in terms of reader response. But when it comes to
longevity of reader interest "terror broker" Kevin Ingram and
upstate New York environmental scamster Alexander "Alex" Salvagno
are top of the list.
Former Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank financier Kevin Ingram,
whose specialty was mortgage backed securities, was convicted in 2001 for taking part in a terror related money laundering scheme.
He completed his brief stay in prison over a year ago. Yet Ingram
continues to generate mail on a fairly regular basis. The most
recent has to do with his rumored pseudonymous cyber presence on
an investor message board. This story may be akin to an alien
sighting. But something is certainly stirring out there. An old
QT story about Ingram from 2001 received over 500 hits in 2 days
and other stories at other sites were also searched heavily.
As for Alex Salvagno, he and his father Raul were convicted last
March of one of the largest environmental frauds in EPA history.
Quoting the 9/24 Syracuse Post-Standard: "The Salvagnos were
responsible for more than 1,550 illegal asbestos removal
projects, and up to 75,000 falsified laboratory results on
those projects." Many of the projects were public buildings:
including the New York State Capital in Albany. Sustained reader
interest in Salvagno is partly due to the lengthy period between
his conviction and sentencing. The sentencing hearing for both Salvagnos will begin on October
28th in Syracuse Federal Court, seven months after the jury found
them guilty. During that period, their million dollar
bond went unpaid until early September. It also emerged that at
least one major defense witness perjured himself-- allegedly
at the behest of Alex Salvagno.
The most interesting correspondence about Ingram and Salvagno has
come from old acquaintances. Some are puzzled by the actions of
men they perceived as nice guys. To them, Ingram and Salvagno
are enigmas. But not so to everyone. One writer who knew Alex
Salvagno for years observed he loved "pranks". Particularly ones
that would lead people to "never know what hit them". Sometimes
victims would even think themselves lucky and "thank him for
helping them out".
Now that's one twisted waitron.
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
"Modo cogito quid prosit rebus tuis." (I'm only thinking
of what's best for you.)
Caligula, AD 38.
"The recognition that evil exists as an entity outside our
understanding of life is not official policy of the Bureau."
The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper,
Twin Peaks Productions, 1991.
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