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New York City's Political Mess: Hide the Skeletons, Deny, Deny, Deny...This is How it Works
Bernard Kerik's fall from grace is just one example of the hide-the-skeletons-so-that-we-can-violate-the-law syndrome which pervades the offices of New York City's elected officials and their groupies. There's also the attack-the-person-who-dares-to-speak-out policy, translated as: silencing the opposition at taxpayer expense.
Parentadvocates has known for several years that Bernard Kerik was not the man that the political PR sent out said he was. His paying two researchers to go to Chicago on our public dime has been on the Internet for a long time, and there have been rumors of mob connections as well. We believe that Rudy Guiliani knew all about Bernie's past and current activities and possibly told Bernie that President Bush's investigators would be "convinced" to sweep away any and all improprieties because that's the way it works in New York City.

The city of New York is in the grips of classic corruption of the worst kind, where anyone who reaches the top - no matter who was hurt or paid off along the way - stays there due to 'nice arrangements' made with the press and other people who are also at the top who want to stay there. It's an old boy network that works extremely well for those who know how to play the game. The trouble starts when a whistleblower blows or a person in the "right" circles makes a telephone call to the media. This rarely happens, because this is employment death - meaning the end of the road as far as getting hired in New York State - both for the person speaking out as well as this person's relatives, friends, or in some cases co-workers. The mistake that Bernie and Rudy made was that they thought President Bush worked the same way. They were wrong in this case, and paid the political price. It may be impossible for Rudy to now get a job in Washington. Sorry Judy!!!

Bernie Kerik is not the first, nor will he be the last of the political scandals to be exposed as a result of someone opening a door to political skeletons. In the past several months we have seen Carol Robles-Roman, the Deputy Mayor, flying through Riverdale in a car with an illegal siren and flashing red lights. This perk was taken away from almost everyone in the Bloomberg administration, including Chancellor Joel Klein and 13 of his buddies. Huh? Why would NYCBOE officials need such amenities?

We attended Deputy Chancellor Anthony Shorris' presentation to the NY City Council on the expense of defibrillators. He told the audience that despite the law mandating that each and every public school be equipped with these life-saving devices, he had nixed this idea because there was no money. A story on his astounding approach - he was indeed at the same time making a double salary in violation of the Conflicts of Interest Board rules and our own Chancellor Joel Klein knew this - is here:

Panel Investigates Deaths of 3 Students
by Tom Kertes, Education Update, March 3, 2003


During the first week of January, three public school students-19 year-old Kimario Green, 16 year-old Katherine Bodden and 13 year-old Randy Charlotte-died of cardiac-related problems on school grounds within seven days. The tragic irony? Each child's life might have been saved by a defibrillator-and the New York State Legislature passed a law requiring that all 1200 New York City Public schools be equipped with defibrillators (AEDs) by December 1, 2002. Why the noncompliance? The City Council, in a joint oversight public hearing by the Committees of Education and Health, looked into the unacceptable situation.

What emerged from the testimony is the gaping abyss between good intentions and frustrating reality that often crops up where politics are involved. Ex-Mayor Giuliani included $3 million in his budget for defibrillators in public locations that, due to the current cost crunch, was wiped out in its entirety by Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor later restored only a small portion, $500,000, at the urging of the City Council.

Worse, "the scale of this law is much greater than we first understood," said Anthony Shorris, Deputy Chancellor for Operations and Planning in the Department of Education. Shorris added that the devices will cost $6.6 million-and that "there is much more to the program than the purchase of the device." Quite apparently, discretionary funds must be found.

Then there's training. The City will have to spend an additional $1-1.5 million dollars to train 15,000 people to use the machines and to have trained personnel around at all times in school and at school events. "They can't all be volunteers," Shorris said.

"We are, of course, educators," added Shorris. "Originally, we had no familiarity with this whatsoever. We are not trained in the use of medical and emergency devices." Currently, a total 126 AEDs are deployed around the City, with 801 people trained to use them. (Ironically, not a single one of them has been used so far.) The school system has bought 300 AEDs so far, only one-tenth of the 3000 required by law. "We will have them all up and running by September," Shorris promised.

Even with all the difficulties involved, however, the Department has clearly dawdled. "I'd like to know, once December rolled around, what the attitude around the DOE was," asked Education Committee Chairperson Eva Moskowitz. "Why didn't you begin the process of compliance sooner? Were you guys concerned? Was there a feeling of inertia or rushing around? Or what?" First, the DOE was going to hire outside help, came the answer. Then, once it realized the true scale of this program, they abandoned that idea. Then the Department scrambled, too late, to find defibrillators appropriate for children. Then they found there was only one such manufacturer-Phillips-and it can only supply 100 AEDs per week.

"Where young children's lives are concerned, we have to throw cost-benefit analysis out the window," Councilman James Oddo said. "What is the sense of having laws on the books if they can be simply disregarded? It's time to wake up, New York City. It will happen here again. After today, it is my hope that we will be prepared."

And yet he did nothing to implement his hope (italics added by parentadvocates)

A short time later we read in the newspaper that he was not only making approximately $160,000+ as Deputy Chancellor, but he was also 'double dipping' into the public purse to work for Local 1199 on thursday mornings. The newspapers graced their pages with a picture of Mr. Shorris getting into his chauffeur-driven publicly-funded limousine to take his son to private school...

See: Joel Klein's Performance Review

Then there is the publicly funded legal defense of Staten Island Ferry Captain Patrick Ryan, a man who reportedly did not treat those underneath him fairly. But no one wants to hold Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall accountable for keeping this man on the job despite many improprieties. Then 11 innocent people were killed on the Staten Island Ferry because someone was literally asleep at the wheel. Ms. Weinshall is the wife of New York State Senator Charles (Chuck) Shumer.

Staten Island Ferry Official Covered Up Negligence, and Mayor Bloomberg Will Have the Public Support Him



December 23, 2004 -- Embattled former NYPD top cop Bernard Kerik yesterday abruptly resigned from Rudy Giuliani's consulting firm, apologizing for a recent string of embarrassing disclosures about his finances and private life.
For Kerik - who touched off political troubles for Giuliani earlier this month by his messy withdrawal as a nominee to head the Homeland Security Department - it was like going from the White House to the outhouse.

"The events surrounding my withdrawal have become an unfair and unnecessary distraction to the firm and the important work being done there," Kerik said at a hastily called press conference outside The Pierre hotel on Fifth Avenue. "I am confident that I will be vindicated from any allegation of wrongdoing."

Kerik, 49, read from a prepared statement and did not take questions from reporters.

A spokesman for the former police commissioner said afterwards that Kerik's decision to step down was his alone.

About a half-hour later, Giuliani, in a separate press conference a mile away, reiterated the same message, saying he agreed with Kerik's decision but was not behind it.

"Did I encourage him or push him? No, I did not; it came from Bernie," the ex-mayor said outside a Times Square office building that houses his firm, Giuliani Partners. "That discussion began a few days ago, a week ago."

"He made some mistakes," Giuliani added. "He is going to have to deal with those issues now, and I believe he will be able to do that."

Kerik's scandal-plagued Homeland Security nomination hurt Giuliani, a rising star in the Republican Party who had recommended his friend and business partner to President Bush.

Giuliani later personally apologized to the president for the fiasco.

Bush on Dec. 3 tapped Kerik to head Homeland Security. But Kerik abruptly withdrew his name Dec. 10, saying he suddenly realized he had neglected to pay taxes for a nanny he employed who might have been in the country illegally.

A rash of other scandals soon followed, including reports that he had connections with people suspected of doing business with the mob and that he had simultaneous extramarital affairs with two women.

The Bronx district attorney is probing allegations that Kerik illegally accepted gifts and had a business relationship with the owner of a construction firm suspected of having organized-crime links. Kerik failed to fill out a mandatory background form before being appointed police commissioner in 2000, according to the city's Department of Investigation.

After leaving the Police Department in 2002, Kerik joined Giuliani Partners as a security consultant.Giuliani Partners has advised business and government agencies on security, leadership and other issues.

Kerik then signed on to help launch the Iraqi police force.

Kerik said he plans to "clear [his] good name, spend more time with his family, and go to the gym more.

by Kati Cornell Smith


December 23, 2004 -- A Staten Island Ferry boss who is fighting manslaughter charges stemming from last year's horrific crash wants the city to continue paying his legal fees even though his lawyer could put the city's needs ahead of his own.
Patrick Ryan, the director of ferry services, yesterday waived his right to argue that his lawyer Thomas Fitzpatrick has a conflict of interest based on his financial ties to the city.

Federal prosecutors have suggested that the lawyer could discourage Ryan from pleading guilty or implicating other city employees in order to limit the city's liability in the flood of lawsuits related to the ferry crash that took 11 lives in October 2003.

By KENNETH LOVETT Post Correspondent


December 23, 2004 -- ALBANY - In letters to a judge, Westchester DA Jeanine Pirro and others went to bat for a politically connected former government official who pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the state, The Post has learned.

Pirro, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for state attorney general, was one of more than 20 people to write letters in support of Jack Gaffney. He was head of the state Bridge Authority and is father-in-law to a top political adviser to Gov. Pataki.

Gaffney, 68, was facing up to two years in jail after pleading guilty in October to two misdemeanors of attempting to defraud the government by billing his state agency for what turned out to be personal trips to Florida and Texas.

He escaped jail time when Ulster County state Supreme Court Justice Michael Kavanagh sentenced him Monday to three years' probation, fined him $10,000 and ordered him to perform 400 hours of community service.

Prior to Gaffney's sentencing, Pirro, using her personal stationery, wrote a glowing letter about him to Kavanagh.

Pirro, whose husband, Al, was convicted in 2000 of federal tax evasion and served time in prison, wrote that she has known Gaffney for 12 years. She called him a loving family man.

"It is without question, this serious matter has had a tremendous toll and impact on each member of the Gaffney family circle," Pirro wrote.

She concluded by urging Kavanagh to "impose a sentence in recognition of the above, consistent with your duty to the law, to justice and to society."

A spokeswoman for Pirro said she couldn't recall another time when the DA wrote a presentencing letter in supporting of someone.

The spokeswoman, Anne Marie Corbalis, defended the letter, saying it was written on Pirro's personal stationery and that the DA made no recommendation regarding the sentencing.

Besides Pirro, a number of others connected to Pataki submitted character references on behalf of Gaffney - including the governor's former chief counsel, Michael Finnegan, state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, state Sen. Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie), and SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Egan.

Gaffney resigned in May from his $137,703-a-year job with the Bridge Authority, which operates five bridges in the Hudson Valley. He still qualifies for a nearly $25,000-a-year state pension.

State attorney general investigators found that several times between 1998 and 2002, Gaffney claimed he went to Florida or Texas to examine electronic toll collection systems. But the real purpose for the trips was to visit relatives.

In another case, Gaffney was said to have extended a six-day conference stay at a resort in Miami to participate in a sailing excursion, not to attend additional business meetings, as he claimed.

Overall, Gaffney's travel expenses were $8,675 and he was paid $7,455 in salary for days he didn't claim as vacation, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has said. Gaffney has made partial restitution to the state for $5,267.

After Too Many Improprieties are Finally Exposed, Bernard Kerik Quits Rudy's New Company

Staten Island Ferry Official Covered Up Negligence, and Mayor Bloomberg Will Have the Public Support Him

There are City-wide Cut-backs for Education, But Raises for Mayor Bloomberg's Pals and Deputy Mayors

NYC Public Advocate, Comptroller, Manhattan and Queens Borough Presidents all Cited for Missing Funds, Equipment

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: List of Alleged Improprieties Grows

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Commission Did a Political Favor For Guy Velella; Are we Holding Him Accountable?

Most NYC Schools Still Have No Defibrillator

Anthony Shorris' recent presentation on School Risk Management - Program For School Preparedness and Planning

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation