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deep qt party platter: Serve the People!
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.

Dessert Tray
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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Copyright (c) 2004 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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