Thursday, November 6, 2014

Columbia Students Oppose Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Construction Project--Part 2

In October 2014, the Columbia Student Coalition Against Gentrification (CAGe) released a report, titled Understanding Columbia University's Expansion into West Harlem: An Activist's Guide, which indicated why many Columbia students, Barnard students and neighborhood residents in Morningside Heights, West Harlem and Manhattanville are apparently still opposed to the Columbia University Administration's Kravis Business School construction/campus expansion project in West Harlem/Manhattanville. As the report's introduction notes:

"...The Manhattanville Houses comprise six buildings with approximately 2,756 tenants, while Grant Houses has nine buildings and 4,519 tenants....Since 2009, Columbia University has begun purchasing shares in Manhattanville Houses. It is unclear what their intentions are for the future of the buildings. They sit immediately across the street from the site of Columbia’s new campus. We are unable to scrutinize Columbia’s ownership shares, because around 90% of the University’s investments are kept secret.

"What we do know is that Columbia University’s Public Safety Program intends to escalate their surveillance and patrol activity throughout the housing projects, in collaboration with the New York Police Department. Vice President of Public Safety James McShane’s announcement of the University’s plans arrived in the aftermath of this summer’s police raids targeting Grant and Manhattanville Houses. 103 teenagers and young adults were incarcerated under indictments ranging from conspiracy to murder, assault, gun possession, loitering and larceny. Heralded by the District Attorney and the Mayor’s Office as the city’s largest ‘gang bust’, the raid on public housing in West Harlem has caused anger and resentment amongst local tenants.

"Since 2011, parents living in Grant and Manhattanville Houses have organized community-based solutions to the problems in their neighborhood. These have included petitions for a new playground, a community center, smaller classes in public schools, family lead truces between rival groups, and job councilors to mitigate unemployment rates hovering above 27%. But their efforts were mostly ignored. Instead, the city spent as much as a hundred million dollars conducting a four- year covert surveillance operation, that used thousands of hours of Facebook chats, tweets, text messages, and security reels to formulate criminal indictments. The police raid itself was staged as a public relations stunt for Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to prove to their donors that they too are ‘tough on crime’.

"...The real crisis, the danger of gradual displacement threatening 32,000 New Yorkers through increases in property value affecting the entire neighborhood, is effectively concealed by the University, and seldom mentioned on Columbia’s campus...Two housing developments...are in fact at risk of losing state protection. The first, 3333 Broadway, has already begun the process of purging working class people of color from the building. The second, Manhattanville Houses, is increasingly coming under Columbia’s purview. The University now owns shares in the projects, and plans to carry out extensive policing and surveillance on its tenants. The key to producing a credible to conceive of the long-term effects of Columbia’s expansion into West Harlem from our present point in time, until the project’s scheduled completion in 2030..."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Columbia Students Oppose Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Construction Project--Part 1

In October 2014, the Columbia Student Coalition Against Gentrification (CAGe) released a report, titled Understanding Columbia University’s Expansion into West Harlem: An Activist’s Guidewhich indicated why many Columbia students, Barnard students and neighborhood residents in Morningside Heights, West Harlem and Manhattanville are apparently still opposed to the Columbia University Administration's Kravis Business School construction/campus expansion project in West Harlem/Manhattanville. As the report's introduction notes:

"...Since 2003, Columbia University has moved to execute their plan to construct a new campus in the area running from 125th to 133rd street, between Broadway and Riverside...35 acres of the neighborhood known as Manhattanville, which spans roughly from 122nd street to 135th, east of St. Nicholas and Edgecombe Avenues (in total Manhattanville comprises approximately 228 acres of land)...Columbia...erected the first scaffoldings of the new campus in spring of 2014....The zoning change replaces small businesses, manufacturers, and residential buildings with a mixed-use academic model that will displace an estimated 298 residents from 135 affordable housing units in the 35-acre area....

"...The introduction of University facilities to the neighborhood...will  encourage significant rent increases in surrounding apartment complexes, as well. Landlords will attempt to attract a new influx of wealthier tenants...,In 2007, Columbia was forced to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in conjunction with the NYC Department of City Planning. Their report admitted `the potential for the indirect residential displacement impact within the primary study area to be significant and adverse' (p. 36). 

"According to statistics recorded by City-Data in 2008, Manhattanville is home to around 32,000 people. 70% of Manhattanville’s residents are Latino, 25% African American, and the remaining 5% Chinese, South East Asian, or White. The median household income for the neighborhood is $32,617. The Federal Poverty line for New York State in 2014-15 is...$36,000 for a household of three...The implication is that most tenants in the area live at or below the poverty level. The changes in property value that Columbia’s expansion will bring to the neighborhood present an imminent threat of  displacement for unprotected tenants.

" of the biggest apartment complexes in the area is 3333 Broadway, with close to 1,200 units on 135th street... In 2005, 3333 Broadway...began to remove affordable units in favor of market rate apartments. The University's entrance into Manhattanville has fueled this process further, by channeling an influx of new tenants willing to pay substantially higher rents. Without intervention, 3333 Broadway will be entirely purged of affordable housing by the time Columbia completes their campus in the year 2030. The change will ensue along racial lines, replacing a predominantly African American and Latino demographic with largely white newcomers...".

Friday, July 11, 2014

Columbia University's 2014 U.S. Navy and Permanent War Machine Connection

In 2014, the Columbia University administration is again involved in the training of U.S. naval officers for the U.S. power elite's permanent war machine. As the Columbia Daily Spectator student newspaper noted in an October 1, 2013 article:

"One year after quietly moving back onto campus, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps [NROTC] celebrated its return to Columbia with fanfare...University President Lee Bollinger and Juan Garcia III, assistant secretary of the Navy, officially welcomed the program back after its 44-year ban...At the event, hosted at the Italian Academy, Bollinger...expressed his support for the program.

"'There is no good reason why our great academic institutions should not offer it,' he said. `Columbia has a historic, very close relationship with the armed forces.'..."

Yet as David Cortright's 1975 book, Soldiers In Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War observed, during the Vietnam War Era "growing anti-militarism...led to trouble in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program, the main source of junior officers. Total college ROTC enrollment dropped from 218,000 in the 1968 academic year, to 87,807 in 1971-72, and 72,500 in 1972-73....From 1969 to 1972, thirty-eight ROTC units were expelled from college campuses, largely because of pressure from radical student activists. The latter years of the war thus produced an immense increase in student resistance to the military..."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Conclusiion

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Democratic Party professional politicians like the Clintons have apparently been eager to cash in big when they finally vacate their government offices. Yet most publicly-funded New York City government officials still are paid more annually than what the average individual worker in the Big Apple is allowed to take home each year. As long ago as 2007, for example—despite the alleged budgetary problems of New York City’s government—the following annual salaries were being paid to local city government elected and appointed officials:

1. CUNY Chancellor: $350,000;
2. NYC Dept. of Education Chancellor: $250,000;
3. NYC Mayor: $225,000;
4. NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations: $204,866;
5. Queens College President: $196,000;
6. CUNY Medical School President: $192,000;
7. NYC District Attorneys/Prosecutors: $190,000;
8. CUNY School of Law Dean: $189,740;
9. NYC Comptroller: $185,000;
10. College of Staten Island President: $183,113;
11. NYC Deputy Mayor for Policy: $177,236;
12. NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development: $177,236;
13. NYC Deputy Mayor for Administration: $177,236;
14. NYC Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs: $177,236;
15. NYC Housing Authority Chair: $177,038;
16. Queensborough Community College President: $176,580;
17. Hunter College President: $175,000;
18. NYC Mayor’s Chief of Staff: $171,038;
19. NYC Mayor’s Press Secretary: $171,038;
20. NYC Dept. of Citywide Administration Services Commissioner: $172,038;
21. NYC Office of Emergency Management Commissioner: $171,038;
22. NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection Commissioner: $171,038;
23. NYC Financial Information Services Agency Executive Director: $171,038;
24. NYC Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner: $171,038;
25. NYC Dept. of Social Services Commissioner: $171,038;
26. NYC Office of Labor Relations Commissioner: $171,038;
27. NYC Corporation Counsel: $171,038;
28. NYC Office of Management and Budget Director: $171,038;
29. NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation Commissioner: $171,038;
30. NYC Office of Payroll Administration Executive Director: $171,038;
31. NYC Police Commissioner: $171,038;
32. NYC Probation Commissioner: $171,038;
33. NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner: $171,038;
34. NYC Off-Track Betting Corporation President: $171,017;
35. NYC Public Advocate: $165,000;
36. NYC Mayor’s Director of Research: $147,000;
37. NYC Mayor’s Special Advisor for Government: $126,072;
38. NYC Mayor’s Senior Advisor: $125,246; and
39. NYC City Council Members: $112,500.

Yet despite their inflated salaries, New York City government officials have still apparently not been able to reduce the official unemployment rate in the Big Apple to below 4 percent in 2013 or provide many union wage jobs for New Yorkers who still have jobs. In August 2013, for example, the official jobless rate in New York City was 8.6 percent, while wages for most workers in the Big Apple have dropped by about 7 percent after adjusting for inflation, since 2002.

In addition, the median rent in New York City has increased by almost 9 percent since 2007 and the number of rental units affordable to low-income families in the Big Apple has dropped from 40 percent to 25 percent since 2002. So, not surprisingly, the number of homeless families economically compelled to live in city housing shelters has increased by 73 percent since 2002, although “more than one out of four families in shelters, 28 percent, include at least one employed adult…and 16 percent of single adults in shelters hold jobs.,” according to the Sept. 17, 2013 issue of the New York Times.

So substituting an apparent phony from Cambridge, Massachusets (who is a Democratic Party politician backed by special business and real estate economic interests) for a Republican Party plutocrat from Medford, Massachusetts (who was also backed by special Wall Street upper-class economic interests) in City Hall ain’t likely to bring much economic equality, political freedom, apartment rent rollbacks or adequately-paid 30-hour workweek jobs to most New Yorkers and New York City tenants in 2014.

And substituting one phony female Clinton for one phony male Clinton in the White House in 2017 ain’t likely to finally create a radically democratic multi-racial society in either the Big Apple or the United States in 2017.

Neither another Republican administration headed by former Mayor Giuliani’s Deputy Mayor—former Paine Webber and Cablevision Executive Joe Lhota—nor a Democratic de-Blasio-Clintongate administration headed by a Clinton “wanna-be/Clinton clone Democrat" will likely liberate the multi-racial working-class “Slaves of New York” in 2014, given the undemocratic political, economic and mass media manipulation/media censorship System that still exists in the United States in the 21st-century.

All Mass Media and Wall Street Economic Power To The People!

(end of article)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 13

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Clintongate Scandal Connection

In an Aug. 13, 2013 Politico website article, titled “Hillary Clinton’s Next Act: The family foundation,” Maggie Haberman also indicated how Hillary Clinton will apparently also become more directly involved in the New York City-based philanthropies empire of the Clintons (at the same time her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign manager de Blasio will likely be occupying the mayor’s office in New York City):

“Hillary Clinton’s next phase of life — the co-leader of a family foundation — has officially begun.

“She’s coming in to her husband’s signature foundation, which has been renamed for all three Clintons — their daughter has an increased presence…. Hillary Clinton’s new office at the foundation’s Manhattan headquarters is slowly taking shape as the chiefs of staff to all three Clintons hold a standing meeting every Monday to arrange schedules and events — three offices staffed with people who have worked together for years….Clinton is joining the foundation launched by her husband and a coterie of former White House aides and advisers...And the foundation is also the structure that has provided sustenance for the extended Clintonland for over a decade…Hillary Clinton’s staff at the foundation is just under 10 people — seven in her current Washington-based transition office and two recent hires…Teneo and some of its clients are also still involved in supporting the foundation’s work, one official said.”

Not much of the money that Bill Clinton has been collecting since 2001 for his tax-exempt “philanthropic” activities (from the ultra-rich folks and special corporate interests who profited most during the 1990s from his administration’s economic policies) has apparently been redistributed to either the families of the children who died in Iraq as a result of his administration’s economic sanctions policy or of the civilians in Serbia who were killed after he ordered that country bombed.

Yet according to a May 23, 2013 Celebrity Worth website article by Brian Warner, since 2001 the presidential candidate whose 1996 re-election campaign in New York was directed by Bill de Blasio has earned over $106 million in speaking fees—despite the Great Recession of the post-2008 years which the Clinton administration’s late 1990s repeal of FDR’s Glass-Steagall Act (that mandated the separation of commercial banking and investment banking) helped create. As Brian Warner observes in his Celebrity Worth article:

“…As a private citizen, Bill was finally able free to cash in… One of the first big windfalls came when the Knopf Publishing Group paid him $15 million for the rights to his memoir My Life. That $15 million is still the largest book advance of all time…. In the 12 years since Bill Clinton has left office, he has given 544 paid speeches all over the world. His fee has ranged from $28,000 to $750,000. The average fee for a single speaking engagement has been $195,000. In 2012, Bill earned $17 million and in 2011 he earned $13.4 million. In total he has made $106 million off speaking engagements since 2001… Out of all of his earnings, $57 million came from outside the US…. “

The same article also indicated how the U.S. senatorial candidate whose campaign Bill de Blasio managed in 2000 has also apparently cashed-in since the Clintons first vacated the White House in early 2001:

“Before Bill Clinton entered the White House…His wife Hillary was the real breadwinner of family at the time, bringing home a salary of $188,547 as an attorney at the…Rose Law Firm in Little Rock…Hillary Clinton earned $8 million for her 2003 biography Living History…Earlier this year Hillary Clinton re-entered private life after stepping down as Secretary of State. Hillary quickly earned a cool $14 million advance for future book with publishing company Simon & Schuster. She is also starting to hit the privates speech circuit and earning six figures for her time…If Hillary and Bill continue to cash in…it's likely that their combined net worth will pass the $200 million mark in the next 3-5 years….”
(end of part 13)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 12

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Clintongate Scandal Connection

In an Aug. 28, 2013 article, titled “The Press Scrutinizes the New Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation”, that was posted on the Philanthropy website, Rick Cohen noted that “the intersection of the Clintons’ foundation and Hillary Clinton’s presidential run has generated a spate of articles suggesting that the renamed and expanded foundation is really now a `pre-campaign organization’ for the campaign and is becoming `the command post for all things Hillary. The same article also observes: 

“If you were someone who wanted to get in good with someone with a decent shot of becoming the next president, you might show up at one of the upcoming fundraisers associated with Hillary or Chelsea, such as the scheduled November 9th `Millennium Network’ event, with top-tier $15,000 donors getting themselves photographed with Hillary herself…The association with a possible future president’s name probably makes the foundation nearly irresistible to donors….The ex-president has attracted some raised eyebrows due to the character of occasional donors (notably Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra, who received some personal benefits from his association with the former president) and questions about some of his foundation’s initiatives…

“The new foundation with Hillary on the nameplate has garnered new scrutiny, including an in-depth article in the New York Times co-authored by Nick Confessore and Amy Chozick. The NYT reporters wrote about the ever-increasing size of the foundation (now with 350 employees), a constantly changing board of various Clinton intimates, $50 million in travel expenditures since 2003…and hints of conflicts of interest concerning [Doug] Band, who has left the foundation to start a private consulting business—not to mention Hillary Clinton’s expanding `nerve center’ of staff, which occupies two floors of the foundation’s Midtown Manhattan offices…

“There are plenty who are plying the foundation for access to the Clintons and their associates..The business and political overlaps show up with Band’s company, Teneo, which seems to have employed Huma Abedin while she was a `special government employee’ at the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary…

"The investigative journalism the news that it is now officially being co-managed by the former president and the former Secretary of State. `I think having a place such as this for a platform gives her a great launching pad into 2016,’ former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told Politico. `It gives her, quite frankly, a great place with which to create or begin to create the message she would use should she decide to run….”

Yet as the New York City Public Advocate since 2010-whose public office website claims to be holding both corporations and tax-exempt “non-profit” organizations like the Clinton Foundation/Clinton Global Initiative accountable to the public--Bill de Blasio has apparently failed to adequately monitor or investigate the apparently self-serving and unethical way the Clintons have been operating their New York City-based Clinton Foundation/Clinton Global Initiative.

But around the same time that the Clintons’ former 1996 New York campaign director, Clinton-appointed HUD official and 2000 U.S. Senate campaign manager began his term as the New York City Public Advocate, the Washington Post observed in a Jan. 2, 2010 article:

“Foreign governments, longtime Democratic fund-raisers...gave money to President Clinton’s…foundation in 2009, according to a list of donors the foundation released yesterday under an agreement with President Obama to prevent the appearance of conflicts with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role as secretary of state.

“Some foreign governments…had been multimillion-dollar donors in the past, including Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar…, Other governments continued their giving, including Norway, which has given $10 million to $25 million over the past several years, and Oman, whose donations have totaled $1 million to $5 million.

“Also among the 19,047 donors from last year are Slim-Fast founder and billionaire Democratic donor S. Daniel Abraham, who has given the Clinton Foundation $5 million to $10 million; Canadian mining tycoon Frank Giustra, who has given more than $25 million; and Scottish financier Sir Tom Hunter, whose foundation has donated $10 million to $25 million. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also gave money in 2009 and ranks among the top donors, having given more than $25 million...Some…Clinton Foundation supporters did not give money last year, including Hollywood magnate Stephen Bing and upstate New York businessman Tom Golisano, each of whose past donations total $10 million to $25 million. Citigroup, the banking firm that has received federal bailout money, is a past supporter…Richard Scaife, a conservative media baron… has given the Clinton Foundation $100,001 to $250,000…

“The foundation…financed the construction of Clinton’s presidential library in Little Rock…. Clinton resisted revealing his foundation’s donors during his wife’s presidential campaign, but he agreed to do so in late 2008 when Hillary Clinton was negotiating with Obama’s transition team to join the Cabinet….”

In a Sept. 22, 2013 article in The New Republic, titled “Scandal at Clinton Inc.,”  Alec MacGillis also wrote the following in reference to the tax-exempt Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative “philanthropies” and their apparent connection to the for-profit Teneo consulting firm of Clinton Global Initiative Advisory Board member Doug Band:

“Bill Clinton now leads a sprawling philanthropic empire like no other…It has formed partnerships with multinationals and wealthy individuals… In July 2001, the former president had established the William J. Clinton Foundation....In 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was born.

“CGI is not a traditional charity…It is a series of collaborations with corporations or individuals…CGI was the perfect vehicle for Clinton…. It placed him at the center of a matrix of the ultra-wealthy and the ultra-powerful, the kinds of people Clinton has always taken a special pleasure in surrounding himself with…

“Teneo has its headquarters on the forty-fifth floor of the former Citigroup Center tower in Midtown and employs more than 200 people in 13 cities…It describes its raison d’ĂȘtre as `integrated counsel for a borderless world,’ offering investment banking, restructuring advice, and `business intelligence’” on dealing with `global disruptors.’… From the beginning, Teneo resembled an outpost of Clintonland more than an independent entity. Clinton and Blair came on as paid advisers…. Nancy Hernreich Bowen, director of Oval Office operations under Clinton, works in the Hong Kong office…. A number of key Teneo clients were also closely involved with Clinton’s charitable work. One month before the Rockefeller Foundation presented Clinton with an award for philanthropy, it gave Teneo a $3.4 million contract…Other Teneo clients include the big hospital chain Tenet (which is a lead partner in the new Clinton Health Matters Initiative) and UBS Americas (which launched a Small Business Advisory Program with the foundation). (According to The New York Times, Teneo’s monthly fees can be as high as $250,000.)… In February 2012, Bill Clinton’s office announced that he would no longer take payment from the firm. The page listing an `advisory board’ headed by Clinton and Blair vanished from its website….”
(end of part 12)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 11

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s 2013 Campaign Contributors

Besides apparently being able to collect up to $1,050 in public matching funds for each individual wealthy New York City resident who contributes over $175 to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign to succeed Billionaire Plutocrat Bloomberg as the Big Apple’s mayor in 2014, the campaign committee of de Blasio has collected over $5.7 million in campaign contributions, including a lot of individual campaign contributions of $4,950 from a number of extremely wealthy folks. As Christopher Robbins observed in an Oct. 6, 2013 article on the Gothamist website:

“…We poked around the New York City Campaign Finance Board's handy searchable database to see who is emptying their pockets for a Mayor de Blasio.

“First: the Big Names. De Blasio said he'd build (metaphysical) "spaces" for Occupy Wall Street to thrive in, but Zuccotti Park's namesake, John Zuccotti of Brookfield Properties, donated $4,950 to the candidate during the last filing period, the maximum amount allowed by law….Real estate developer Ben Shaoul, who sits on the vanguard of gentrification in the East Village, also donated the $4,950 maximum to de Blasio…So did real estate mogul Ed Scheetz.

“Michael Ratner, Karen Ranucci, and Ellen Ratner, who are developer Bruce Ratner's brother, sister-in-law, and sister, respectively, all donated the maximum amount to de Blasio's campaign…David Belt, a founding partner of DBI Construction Consultants… also donated the maximum amount to de Blasio, as did Jack Cayre, the CEO of Midtown Equities, the firm that is building the giant Yuppie Condo Mall at the Empire Stores site in DUMBO…And so did the co-founder of Bed Bath & Beyond, Leonard Feinstein.

“Billionaire…Alexander Rovt donated to de Blasio last year, but his son Maxwell, who is the Chief of Real Estate for the family business, IBE Trade Corp, donated $4,950 to de Blasio this past cycle. (His mother and father each donated $2,475 the previous cycle, in addition to other contributions made last year.) Meanwhile, the Soros family—George, Alexander, Andrea, and Jonathan, donated a total of $13,025 last cycle….Igor Medvedovskly, the general manager of Yellow Cab Medallion Company also donated $4,950 last month.

“As for Wall Street: Neil Mitchell, Morgan Stanley's private wealth executive director (and former senior VP at Lehman Brothers) donated $4,700 last cycle…”

Despite receiving a lot of money in campaign contributions from various labor union bureaucrats, de Blasio has also accepted big campaign contributions from the following individuals over the last few years: 1. $4,950 from William Zeckendorf of Brown Harris Stevens; 2. $4,950 from Arthur Zeckendorf of Terra Holdings; 3.  4,950 from Loudas Zoumas of The Avaris Group;  4. $4,950 from Alen York of Alen Sands York Association; 5. Over $4,950 from Joanne Wycott of Southhampton, New York; 6. $500 from Alice Wolf of Cambridge, Massachusetts; 6. $4,950 from Gilbert Winn of Boston, Massachusetts; 7. Over $4,950 from John Wilhelm of Santa Barbara, California; 8. $4,950 from Victor Weingarten of Gotham Yellow Taxi;  10. $3,475 from Rob Wavra of The Sentinel Homeland Security Group in Fairfax, Virginia; 11. $4,500 from James Vasey of Cab Management Corporation;  12. $2,500 from Michael Varner of JP Morgan Chase; 13. Over $4,500 from Jeff Thamkittikasem of The Sentinel Homeland Security Group;  14. $4,950 from Robert Tannenhauser of the Ruxton Capital Group; 15. $4,500 from Carol Tannenhauser of the Ruxton Capital Group; 16. $4,950 from Jay Snyder of HBJ Investment; 17.$4,950 from Robert S. Rubin of JP Morgan Chase; 18. $4,950 from Steven G. Rubenstein of Rubenstein Communications; 19. $4,950 from John Rove of Columbia University; 20. $4,950 from Nan Cooper Rothschild of Columbia University; 21. $4,950 from the New York State Economic Growth PAC; 22. $4.950 from Amy O’Donnell of Procter & Gamble;  23. $4,950 from W. Patrick McMullan of Bear Stearns; 24. $4,950 from Sanel Ljesnjanin of Millenium Taxi; 25. $4,950 from David Kuperberg of Cooper Square Realty; 26. $4,950 from Timothy Ingrarasa of Goldman Sachs; 27. $4,950 from Neil Greenbaum of All Taxi; 28. $4,950 from Howard Gottlieb of Glenwood Investment Capital; 29. $4,950 from Eugeny Friedman of the Taxi Club; 30. $4,950 from Alexander Durst of The Durst Organization; and 31. $400 from Cooper Union Trustee Jeffrey Gural.
(end of part 11)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 10

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

During his term as New York City’s Public Advocate, de Blasio also apparently used his position to obtain the political and financial backing of Billionaire Speculator and Plutocrat George Soros (who also operates the tax-exempt Open Society Institute foundation that subsidizes various left-liberal middle-class NGOs around the globe and left-liberal, Democratic Party-oriented middle-class activists and NGOs in the United States).

As the New York Times also revealed in its Aug. 31, 2013 article:

“…Mr. de Blasio nurtured a relationship with George Soros, the billionaire financier, whose foundation became the single biggest benefactor of an obscure nonprofit organization that paid for Mr. de Blasio to promote his advocacy work around the country….His advocacy brought him into contact with a powerful ally: Mr. Soros, who had long deplored the influence of corporations in the political system, even as he poured millions of his own fortune into campaigns.

“The billionaire banker and the Brooklyn activist met on an autumn evening in 2010, when Mr. de Blasio spoke on a panel…held in Mr. Soros’s grand Fifth Avenue home. The two chatted afterward, and Mr. de Blasio promised to stay in touch.

“Four months later, Mr. Soros’s foundation pledged $400,000 to the Fund for Public Advocacy…to support the work of the public advocate’s office.

“The donation was the largest single contribution to the fund, a tax exempt 501(c)(3), during Mr. de Blasio’s tenure….”

Yet Soros’ foundation obtained the $400,000 it used to subsidize de Blasio’s Fund for Public Advocacy from the surplus capital that Soros gets from speculating and investing in transnational corporations that exploit workers and middle-class consumers around the globe; and the special private economic and class interests of Billionaire Soros and his Soros Fund Management firm conflict with the economic class interests of the public and most of the people in New York City who work and live in New York City.

For unlike most people who live, work or grew up in New York City, George Soros and his Soros Fund Management LLC investment firm controlled or owned or collected dividends from over $5.7 billion worth of Wall Street corporate stock in 2013. According to its SEC filing, on June 30, 2013 the Soros Fund Management investment firm’s portfolio included, for example, over $344 million worth of Google stock, over $112 million worth of AIG stock, over $76 million worth of Macys Inc. stock, over $32 million worth of Apple Inc. stock, over $30 million worth of Wal-Mart stock, over $14 million worth of Time Warner Cable stock, over $3.4 million worth of Comcast stock, over 8 million worth of Citigroup stock and over $46 million worth of Loral Space & Communications stock.

Coincidentally, a retired Loral Space & Communications executive named Bernard Schwartz also gave “the maximum $4,950” to de Blasio’s “mayoral bid, then poured $25,000 into the Fund for Public Advocacy,” according to the Aug. 31, 2013 article in the New York Times.
(end of part 10)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 9

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

As the New York Daily News observed in a Sept. 22, 2013 article, “the records examined by The News…show that from 1995 to 2001, the now-candidate for mayor was registered with the city Board of Elections as Bill de Blasio and voted 10 times under that name, even though he had not yet petitioned the court to change his name from Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm;” and “on a June 25, 2003, mortgage with JPMorgan…he was listed as `Bill AKA Warren de Blasio AKA Wilhelm’ and he signed it, `Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm AKA Bill de Blasio. Yet registering to vote under a different name than your legal name—and then voting under a different name than your legal name in various elections-- was apparently considered legally “kosher” by New York City’s Board of Elections with respect to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm (who perhaps dropped the “Wilhelm” part of his name when he realized that people in New York City who voted on the basis of ethnic background rather than political philosophy might be more inclined to vote for a Democrat whose last name was just “de Blasio” rather than “de-Blasio-Wilhelm.”)

After getting elected as the Big Apple’s Public Advocate in 2009, de Blasio apparently used his office as a stepping-stone to more easily win election as New York City’s mayor in 2013. In addition, as New York City’s Public Advocate de Blasio apparently served special economic and corporate interests instead of serving the public interest. As the New York Times recalled in an Aug. 31, 2013 article:

“New York City was planning to allow thousands of new taxis to operate outside Manhattan…It was hard to imagine Mr. de Blasio…opposing a proposal to improve transportation for his chronically taxi-starved neighbors….Mr. de Blasio would emerge as the taxi plan’s most prominent opponent…and using his office to fight it in court — and confounding allies who found his stance incongruous with his typical stands.

“`I was flabbergasted,’ said David S. Yassky, the taxi and limousine commissioner whose former City Council district borders Mr. de Blasio’s. `After hearing all his rhetoric about standing up for the outer boroughs, here’s a program that actually would help 80 percent of New York City, and he did everything he could to stop it.’”

“The powerful taxi and limousine industry, which bitterly opposed the city’s plan, made its gratitude clear, sending about $200,000 in contributions to Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign in the last two years, far more than his rivals received. And Mr. Kabessa, the chief executive of Carmel Car and Limousine Service, now sits on the campaign’s finance committee and was a host of a fund-raiser for Mr. de Blasio this spring.

“But a review of his years as public advocate shows that the office often served another aim: Elevating Mr. de Blasio’s political ambitions and his profile in anticipation of a run for mayor… “
(end of part 9)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 8

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Political Office-Seeking Career

As the New York Times recalled in an Aug. 25, 2013 article, de Blasio’s “assiduous courtship of Jewish leaders in Brooklyn” as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2000 also “solidified his credentials for his own Council run in 2001,” when the political operative from Cambridge, Massachusetts decided to seek elective political office for himself in New York City; and “colleagues even joked about his frequent trips to Brooklyn during the Senate race, and started calling him Councilman.” The same article also noted that “his networking efforts paid off” because “Mrs. Clinton’s Senate donors eventually accounted for more than a third of his fund-raising haul in his Council race, according to an analysis by the New York Times.”

De Blasio claims to be pro-tenant and sympathetic to the economic goals of democratic socialism and in favor of democratic change in New York City. Yet as an elected member of the New York City Council between 2002 and 2010, de Blasio supported real estate developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project despite the opposition of most people who lived in the Park Slope neighborhood (whose interests he had previously pledged to represent) to the Atlantic Yards project. As a long-time African-American Movement activist in New York City and New York City Council member Charles Barron told the Brooklyn Paper in 2008, de Blasio “supported Ratner!.” In addition, as Barron also observed, de Blasio “supported the expansion of the 421-a subsidy, which is a handout to developers,” although “developers should not get tax breaks for building projects that are 80 percent luxury housing.”

Coincidentally, as Norman Oder observed in an Oct. 19, 2011 post on his Atlantic Yards Reports blog, on May 23, 2010 New York City real estate developer Bruce Ratner “gave $4,950, the maximum,” to the campaign chest of “Bill de Blasio, a likely 2013 mayoral candidate and a reliable, if not always credible, Atlantic Yards supporter;” and “Ratner…was the co-chair of a de Blasio fundraiser.” And according to the Office of the Public Advocate website, on Dec. 1, 2011 de Blasio met in his public office with Bruce Ratner and former Democratic New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s special assistant, Suri Kasirer—who is now the president of the Kasirer Consulting Services lobbying firm that also represents the special corporate interests of clients such as Goldman Sachs, CBS, NBC, Time-Warner, AIG and Goldman Sachs—to discuss the Atlantic Yards project that de Blasio still supports.

Dana Rubinstein also observed in an Aug. 30, 2013 Capital website article, that” in fact, de Blasio’s record as a councilman demonstrated a willingness to work with developers…using an approach to land use that at times bore a strong resemblance to Bloomberg's own..” As Rubinstein also recalled:

“In 2009, he pushed through a rezoning of a development site on the Gowanus Canal so Toll Brothers could build 447 condos there. And, when Toll Brothers said they would pull out if the federal government declared the canal a Superfund site, de Blasio backed a Bloomberg alternative cleanup… Critics countered that Bloomberg's alternative clean-up would prove less thorough.

“And, like Bloomberg, but to the consternation of some very vocal Brooklyn Heights residents, he supported the development of condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park

“`“When he talks to the real estate industry, he tells us to look at his record,’ one real estate executive told me…

"`Mr. de Blasio has never criticized the deeply flawed process that gifted a complete zoning override and 22 acres of valuable Brooklyn real estate to a single developer without any vote or any bidding process,’ said Daniel Goldstein, the founder of Developer Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which led the anti-Atlantic Yards fight, in an email. `He's never railed against the sweetheart deal, or advocated on behalf of homeowners and tenants who faced the highly controversial use of eminent domain. From the start and right up to the minute he has unconditionally supported the biggest land grab of the Bloomberg years, a deal made entirely in back rooms.’"…

“De Blasio was also a staunch supporter of a Toll Brothers proposal to build hundreds of condos on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, to the dismay of some residents.

“In March, Toll Brothers hosted a fund-raiser for de Blasio at the developer's 99 Wall Street offices.

“`There’s no difference between him and the mayor on development schemes, as far as we can see,’ said Marlene Donnelly, a member of Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, known as FROGG…”
(end of part 8)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 7

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Cambridge, Massachusetts Roots and Polaroid Connection

During the years that de Blasio’s mother was apparently working for Land as a Polaroid Corporation public relations manager, the recipient of the National Education Association [NEA]’s 2012 Rosa Parks Memorial Award, Caroline Hunter, discovered that Land’s Polaroid Corporation was also collaborating with the apartheid regime in South Africa. As the NEA website recalled:

“At the age of 21, fresh out of Xavier University, New Orleans, Hunter landed a good job as a chemist at the Polaroid Corporation. Then one day, quite by chance, she spotted in her workplace an enlarged South African photo identification card. The year was 1970, decades before the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S. had gathered steam. But Caroline Hunter knew the significance of that photo identification card. It was part of what Nelson Mandela called `the hated document’— that is, the South African passbook all Blacks in South Africa were required to carry at all times. It was an important link in the chain that the Apartheid regime used to control and monitor the movement of Blacks.

“Polaroid had in fact been doing business with the apartheid government of South Africa for years. Most important was its ID-2 system, which consisted of a camera, instant processor and laminator. It could generate a photo identification card in just two minutes and more than 200 in an hour—exactly the technology the apartheid government needed to enforce its Pass Laws Act.

“After finding the mock passbook, Caroline Hunter and her colleague (and later husband) Ken Williams, a photographer at Polaroid, launched their campaign. They distributed fliers around the workplace, alerting their colleagues to Polaroid’s complicity with apartheid. They organized demonstrations outside the company’s headquarters, and they spoke out to the larger community. Up until this point, Polaroid had a reputation as a liberal company—`an equal opportunity’ employer. But the Polaroid management did not take well to the protests, and they fired Hunter and Williams…”

In his book Sharpville: An Apartheid Massacre and Its Consequences, Tom Lodge also wrote that “the formation of the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement (PRWM) by black employees at Polaroid’s Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters signaled wider concerns with US-South African connections: the PRWM was formed to stop Polaroid’s processing of film for South Africa’s passbooks…” And according to Insisting On The Impossible:

 “…Early in 1971, demonstrators protesting Polaroid’s involvement in South Africa and Land’s key role in defense nearly prevented Land from speaking about his color-view research at the American Physical Society in New York…In 1970 and 1971, employees and outsiders demanded that Polaroid cease selling its products in South Africa, including its photo-identification equipment…Some critics even took out large advertisements urging a boycott of Polaroid products. To meet the criticism, Polaroid sent a committee…to South Africa. The committee…recommended continuing sales through Polaroid’s South African dealer, which amounted to $1.5 million a year…”

And Polaroid apparently did not stop selling its products in South Africa until 1977.

Yet during de Blasio’s years as a teenage junior high school and high school student government politico in Cambridge during the 1970s (who was also profiled in the Boston Globe during the late 1970s) he apparently never questioned the morality of the political role his mother was apparently playing as a public relations manager for a corporation that was collaborating with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Coincidentally, de Blasio joined some other local politicians in signing a Jan. 31, 2013 letter to Brooklyn College’s president which attempted to pressure the college’s Political Science Department to withdraw its sponsorship of a campus panel discussion about the non-violent BDS campaign to use economic divestment tactics (similar to those used by the anti-apartheid Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement in the 1970s against the Polaroid firm in whose public relations department his mother worked) to get the Israeli government to end its denial of Palestinian human rights; which led columnist Katha Pollit to criticize de Blasio and the other local politicians who signed this letter for setting “themselves up as micro-managers of campus programming, backed up by threats of financial punishment,” in her Feb. 5, 2013 column of The Nation magazine. 
(end of part 7)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 6

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Cambridge, Massachusetts Roots and Polaroid Connection

When Hillary Clinton named de Blasio in December 1999 to be her full-time campaign manager during her successful campaign in 2000 to occupy one of New York’s seats in the U.S. Senate between 2001 and 2009, she claimed she had chosen “someone who…grew up in New York—a point that was prominently mentioned in the single-page news release announcing the appointment,” according to the Dec. 4, 1999 New York Times article; apparently, according to the Aug. 25, 2013 New York Times article, because of  “the carpetbagging charges that dogged Mrs. Clinton.”

Yet, in reality, in late 1999 Hillary “The Carpetbagger from Arkansas and Washington, D.C.” had chosen a “Carpetbagger from Cambridge, Massachusetts” to be her U.S. Senate campaign manager in 2000: because Bill de Blasio did not grew up in New York, but did grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As Dan Janison noted in an Aug. 17, 2013 Newsday article:

“De Blasio was raised in Cambridge, Mass., Bay State roots being one of the…things he shares with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And de Blasio remains a Red Sox fan…. De Blasio attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School..”.

And as the Boston Globe recalled in a Sept. 30, 2013 article, “De Blasio moved to Cambridge in 1966, when he was 5” and “his mother, Maria, was a public relations manager at Polaroid.”

The old Polaroid Corporation (that went bankrupt in 2001, had its assets purchased by OEP Imaging Corporation in 2002 and ceased to exist in 2002), in whose public relations department the now-deceased Maria de Blasio Wilhelm worked for nearly 20 years, was formed in 1937 by Edwin Land—a grandson of Avram Solomonivich and the son of Harry Land, the owner of the H.M. Land Waste Company in Connecticut. According to Victor McElheny’s Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land, during the 1920s the “main business” of Edwin Land’s father “was to handle all the scrap metal from Electric Boat, the principal builder of submarines in the United States;” and “by 1927, Harry Land had begun to invest his profits in real estate.”

Established in 1937 with the financial backing of Wall Street investment bankers like James P. Warburg, during World War II Polaroid profited from the war by supplying “$2 million dollars’ worth of still [3-D] Vectographs to the U.S. military,” producing “filters for goggles” for U.S. Navy gunners, and making “periscopes, lightweight stereoscopic rangefinders, aerial cameras, the Norden bombsight, and a mechanism that antiaircraft gunners could use in training their tracer fire,” according to Insisting On The Impossible. The same book also recalled that during World War II, “the Navy asked Polaroid to work on a plane-launched, guided anti-ship bomb,” “for the thousand-pound guided bomb, the Navy awarded a contract that paid a total of $7 million dollars to Polaroid over several years” and “the contract represented a substantial fraction of the company’s wartime business.”

During the Korean War, Cold War and Vietnam War eras of the 1950s and 1960s, Polaroid President and Chairman Land also headed the Republican Eisenhower administration’s Technological Capabilities Panel’s intelligence project that helped the CIA develop its secret U-2 spy plane and spy satellite programs. In addition, as a member of both the President’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities and the President’s Science Advisory Committee (along with former Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research think-tank board chairman and MIT President James Killian), Polaroid’s president and chairman was “virtually in control of the development of U.S. technical means for gathering intelligence, especially in the CIA and the National Security Agency, which monitored communications throughout the world” during the late 1950s and early 1960s, according to Insisting On The Impossible.

As the same book also recalled:

“Many years of largely secret government services had prepared Land for the work leading to U-2 and beyond…For the work on Project Charles, Land assigned one of his leading optical scientists, David Grey, to participate with him…The Project Charles report recommended use of one-step Land-type photography to record images off radar scopes…Land…set up a center for bringing together all the elements of the reconnaissance [U-2] plane. The small room was at 2 Osborn Street [in Cambridge] the modest red brick building that contained his office and laboratory…”

Coincidentally, some former CIA officials have apparently claimed that Bill Clinton spied on anti-war movement activists for the CIA in the UK while attending Oxford, not many years after Polaroid apparently collaborated with the CIA to develop its U-2 spy plane. According to a 1996 book written by a former senior aide to 1984 Democratic Party presidential nominee Walter Mondale named Roger Morris, titled Partners In Power:

“`Bill Clinton’s ties to the intelligence community go back all the way to Oxford and come forward from there,' says a former government official who claims to have seen files long since destroyed… One former agency official would claim later that the future president was a full-fledged `asset,’ that he was regularly `debriefed,’ and thus that he informed on his American friends in the peace movement in Britain. Similarly, he was said to have informed on draft resisters in Sweden during his brief trip there with Father McSorley…

“One more CIA retiree would recall going through archives of Operation Chaos at the Langley headquarters—part of an agency purge amid the looming congressional investigations of the mid-1970s—and seeing Bill Clinton listed, along with others, as a former informant who had gone on to run for or be elected to a political office of some import, in Clinton’s case attorney general of Arkansas. `He was there in the records,’ the former agent said, `with special designation.’ Still another CIA source contended that part of Clinton’s arrangement as an informer had been further insurance against the draft....”

In a footnote to his 1996 book, the author of Partners In Power, Roger Morris, also noted that “interviews on the issue of Clinton and the CIA were arranged in part through organizations of retired intelligence officers and other national security officials and included former ranking members of the CIA stations in London, Stockholm, Paris and Moscow, as well as some who served at agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, during the late 1960s and who were familiar with the Operation Chaos files.”
(end of part 6)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 5

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Hillary Clinton Connection

In his 2000 book Rogue State, anti-war writer William Blum indicated some of the reasons the husband of Hillary Clinton was considered responsible for war crimes by many anti-war activists on the Lower East Side in 1999: “for his merciless bombing of the people of Yugoslavia for 78 days and nights, taking the lives of many hundreds of civilians and producing one of the greatest ecological catastrophes in history; for his relentless continuation of the sanctions and rocket attacks upon the people of Iraq; and for his illegal and lethal bombing of Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan and Afghanistan.”

And most anti-corporate activists on the Lower East Side in 1999 also opposed the pro-NAFTA, pro-WTO and pro-IMF economic policies that both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton promoted, which helped create a larger growth in economic inequality in the USA during the Democratic Clinton administration of the 1990s than in any previous U.S. administration.

Yet Bill de Blasio still agreed in late 1999 to serve the Clintons as Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign manager when the wife of Arkansas’s former governor (and then-Democratic Party Boss Bill Clinton) wanted to “carpetbag” into New York State from the White House and grab a third seat in the U.S. Senate for Arkansas’s political establishment; and wanted to also use one of New York State’s seats in the U.S. Senate as a stepping stone for a future U.S. presidential campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and as a way to authorize a 2003 Pentagon attack on Iraq that most people in New York City opposed. As the New York Times observed in a Dec. 4, 1999 article, titled “Clinton Senate Campaign Gets A Full-Time Director:”

“Hillary Rodham Clinton began to lay the groundwork for…her United States Senate campaign yesterday, selecting Bill de Blasio…to serve as her full-time campaign manager.

“Mr. de Blasio, 38, has held a series of political and governmental jobs in New York… He took a desk and phone at Mrs. Clinton's Midtown campaign headquarters yesterday and will formally begin work on Monday.

“With his appointment, Mr. de Blasio joins a small full-time campaign staff,…

''`I am very excited to do this,’' Mr. de Blasio said. `'I think she's a great candidate.’…'

“Mr. de Blasio…has ties to City Hall, through Mr. Vallone…and, perhaps most important, to Harold M. Ickes, Mrs. Clinton's senior political strategist. Mr. Ickes also works as Mr. Vallone's paid lobbyist in Washington….”

In an Aug. 25, 2013 article, the New York Times also indicated how de Blasio contributed to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign to grab one of New York’s seats in the U.S. Senate for U.S. presidential campaign stepping-stone reasons:

“Mr. de Blasio, a former official in the Clinton administration...joined the campaign in late 1999, after being recommended by several people close to the Clintons, including Harold Ickes, a former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton….His primary objectives…included serving as a liaison to New York’s power brokers, in the city and upstate…Never was he more instrumental, his colleagues say, than when he soothed the feelings of Jewish leaders…Indeed, Mr. de Blasio stayed in close contact with Assemblyman Dov Hikind ... And Patti Solis Doyle, a longtime adviser to Mrs. Clinton, said that the former first lady `would not have been senator without him’ because `he paved the way for her with many of the prickly political factions in New York State.’”

And in her 2003 autobiography, Hillary Clinton also recalled that in 2000 “Patti Solis Doyle…coordinated my White House and campaign schedules,…overseeing logistics and helping to run campaign strategy” and “Patti joined an experienced team led by my campaign manager, Bill de Blasio, who proved to be an outstanding strategist and trusted emissary among the…communities of New York…”

Coincidentally, the Clinton White House Chief of Staff who recommended de Blasio as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Tiber Creek Group-Ickes & Enright Group lobbyist Harold Ickes, has, in recent years, also been the president of the tax-exempt Fund for the Public Advocate, which “was formed by the Office of the New York City Public Advocate and incorporated in 2002 as a…tax exempt corporation” and “seeks to partner with foundations, corporations, individuals and community organizations,” according to its website.

And among the clients whose special interests have been represented by the Tiber Creek Group-Peck Madigan Jones firm that Fund for the Public Advocate President Ickes’s lobbying firm has been a part of during Bill de Blasio’s term as New York City’s Public Advocate have been the following:  Health Partners, Inc., Hertz Corporation, International Swaps & Derivatives Association, MasterCard International Incorporated; Mid-Sized Bank Coalition of America; NYSE Euronext, Inc.; Pentagon Federal Credit Union; Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; US-Russia Business
; Whirlpool Corporation; Wells Fargo Securities, Inc.; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Yet as the New York Times observed in an Aug. 31, 2013 article:

“”One of his first actions was to bring in an old friend and mentor as the fund’s president: Harold M. Ickes, a prominent figure in the Clinton White House. Mr. Ickes, who resides in Washington, was initially skeptical of Mr. de Blasio’s entreaties.

“`I said, “Do you really want a non-New Yorker?’” Mr. Ickes recalled in an interview.

“But Mr. de Blasio was insistent. `He thought it would be an asset,’ said Mr. Ickes, who also advises Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign.”
(end of part 5)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 4

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Peter Vallone Sr./C&V Connection

During the 1990s, de Blasio also served as a senior aide to a Democratic Speaker of the New York City Council named Peter Vallone, Sr. Coincidentally, de Blasio’s former boss has, in recent years, been a “Principal” in the for-profit lobbying firm of Constantinople & Vallone Consulting LLC [C&V].  As the website of former Speaker of the New York City Council Vallone Sr.’s C&V lobbying firm notes:

“Peter Vallone, Sr. is a New Yorker…Vallone served as Speaker of the New York City Council from 1986 through 2001… As Speaker, Peter was the City’s top legislator… Peter’s ability to reach all levels of New York City…government is unparalleled, and his vast experience results in the achievement of short and long term goals for C&V clients….Peter’s `Safe Streets — Safe City’ rebuilt the police force from 26,000 to 41,000 officers...

“Constantinople & Vallone Consulting LLC is a results oriented government relations… firm with a strong record of success…C&V provides customized, hands on consulting services to a select group of clientele….We at C&V believe that effective government relations is not just who you know, it's knowing who you need to know. C&V's principals bring a unique combination of experience and expertise in the sectors of government…C&V believes in creating and fostering an open dialogue with government officials...Constantinople & Vallone guides you through the entire governmental process…C&V has vast experience in dealing with both the New York City and State Executive branches and Legislatures…We get you in the door at every level, from staff to principal…We at C&V utilize the same strategy that served Peter Vallone, Sr. so well throughout his tenure at the City Council... For each project that we accept, C&V designs a strategy that touches all the bases necessary for success…”

So, not surprisingly, an article in the Nov. 17, 2006 issue of the New York Sun contained the following reference to Donald Trump and the lobbying firm of De Blasio’s former boss:

“The city is set to grant building permits to developer Donald Trump to construct a 45-story condominium hotel in SoHo...According to land use filings, the owners of the SoHo development site include Bayrock Development, the Sapir Organization, and Zar Realty Management….Over the last year and a half, Zar Realty has paid more than $150,000 to Constantinople Consulting, the lobbying firm of a former speaker of the City Council, Peter Vallone Sr. On behalf of the developer, the firm lobbied the department of buildings, the planning commission, the City Council, the office of the Manhattan president, the office of the attorney general, and the office of the deputy mayor, according to filings with the state….”

Coincidentally, according to the Office of the Public Advocate website, de Blasio has met at least four times in his public office with lobbyists from the Constantinople & Vallone firm during his term as New York City’s Public Advocate. On Sept. 21, 2010, for example, de Blasio had a meeting with Peter Vallone and Anthony Constantinople; and on July 27, 2011, Aug. 2, 2011 and Mar. 1, 2012, de Blasio had a meeting with C&V lobbyist Anthony Constantinople alone.
(end of part 4)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 3

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Dinkins Administration Connection

Bill Clinton was not the first Democratic politician who primarily represented the special corporate interests of Wall Street banks and New York City real estate developers-- rather than the economic and political class interests of Lower East Side tenants and activists—that de Blasio served.

Under the name “Bill Wilhelm”, he had been an NYU undergraduate student politico in the early 1980s. But by 1984 “he was calling himself Bill de Blasio;” and he then “joined the 1984 presidential campaign” of the Democratic presidential candidate who opposed Jesse Jackson’s attempt to be the 1984 Democratic Party presidential nominee—former Trilateral Commission member Walter Mondale—serving “as a field organizer in Connecticut,” according to an Oct. 6, 2013 New York Daily News article.

Then--after attending Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and graduating in May 1987—he spent a year at the religious left-oriented Quixote Center (which provided humanitarian aid to people in Nicaragua who were then being victimized by the CIA-organized Contra War to overthrow the anti-imperialist Sandinista government in that country), before agreeing to serve as a campaign coordinator for former Inner City Broadcasting board member and 1989 New York City mayoral candidate David Dinkins.

Following Dinkins’ election, de Blasio served former New York City Democratic Mayor David Dinkins as a mayoral aide/staffperson between 1990 and 1994..

During the period when de Blasio was a member of the Dinkins administration, Mayor Dinkins ordered his police force to violently shove homeless people and their supporters out of Tompkins Square Park, destroy its bandshell and flood the Lower East Side with police. And after the Dinkins administration obtained a court injunction that denied the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization [ILGO] its democratic right to march up Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day to protest against homophobia in March 1993, Dinkins ordered his police force to block the ILGO marchers and arrest 170 of the 1,500 ILGO protesters.

According to Trump by Wayne Barrett, during the 1989 New York City mayoral campaign, Donald Trump “had Tony Gliedman, an old tennis buddy of David Dinkins, heading a real estate fund-raising committee for the Dinkins campaign;” and, according to Donald Axelrod’s Shadow Government, in July 1990 the Dinkins administration “selected 5 underwriters from a field of 53 companies to sell $6 billion in bonds: Bear, Stearns; Goldman Sachs; First Boston’ Shearing Lehman Hutton; and Merrill Lynch. To no one’s surprise, the New York Times revealed that all five had contributed $233,000 to the campaign of Mayor David N. Dinkins and Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman.”

So, not surprisingly, the pro-corporate and pro-real estate developer policies of the Democratic Dinkins administration--that de Blasio was a part of between 1990 and 1994—failed to provide apartments for the homeless in New York City, failed to rollback rents for tenants in New York City to pre-1971 levels and failed to create more jobs at union wages for New York City’s unemployed workers. In 1992, for example, “the number of homeless families pouring into city shelters and welfare hotels…reached an all-time high of 5,238,” according to Newsday (7/15/92); and by January 1993 the official unemployment rate in New York City under the Dinkins administration—that de Blasio was a part of—had jumped to 13.4 percent. The record of the Democratic “Dinkins-de Blasio” administration between 1990 and 1994 was also summarized in the following way by the publication of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, Tenant, in May 1993:

“Dinkins’ record on the homeless is `long on rhetoric and short on achievement,’ says Steve Banks, coordinator of the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Family Rights Project. There are more and more homeless instead of fewer, with the administration equally unable to stem the tide of recession-rooted evictions or help those who find themselves without a home. The number of homeless families in the city’s shelter system has nearly doubled from 3,200 in July 1990 to a record 5,600 in January of this year.”
(end of part 3)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 2

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Bill Clinton Connection

In 1996 most anti-war and anti-corporate activists on the Lower East Side pretty much agreed with how Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity characterized former Arkansas governor and then-U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife—former Wal-Mart corporate board member and Rose corporate law firm partner and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton—in the 1996 book The Buying of The President:

“There is probably no case more instructive of the intersection of private and public interest and the incestuousness of Arkansas business and political elites than that somewhat complicated affair known as Whitewater…The point of Whitewater and Bill Clinton’s public service career in Arkansas is that long before the presidential election of 1992, his political identity as an accommodator of the largest most powerful monied interests was well established. While he was governor, millions of dollars in private favors at public expenses accrued to various companies and individuals, and Clinton’s professional career as a politician was supported by the Arkansas financial and political elites…

“…From 1983 until he resigned as governor in order to seek his party’s nomination for president, Clinton never really threatened the interests of the business elite, in some cases directly servicing them…Tyson Foods received roughly $12 million in tax breaks during the years Clinton was governor.

“In 1984 and in subsequent races, Tyson backed Clinton, not only at election time, but by allowing the governor to travel frequently on the Tyson corporate jet, picking up the tab on expensive meals, among other favors.

“For her part, Hillary Rodham Clinton was ensconced in the old, established Little Rock Rose law firm, which represented Tyson and other important corporate and financial interests in the state, including Stephens Inc., and Wal-Mart, among others. It was Tyson’s attorney, James Blair, who helped her make close to a 10,000 percent return on a $1,000 play in commodities training…Clinton and his inner circle of advisers…exempted themselves from…conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements…Meanwhile, he and his administration were notably laggard and unaggressive in halting Tyson’s polluting of rivers and streams…

“In 1991, a year after promising he would serve a full four-year term as governor if reelected, Clinton announced his candidacy for president of the United States

“Banking and financial interests were not bashful about supporting the Arkansas governor. In 1992, candidate Clinton received at least $853,295 in campaign contributions from the financial sector…And the company that produced more than $100,000 and the largest number of individual contributors was the New York-based securities firm Goldman Sachs…The Clinton administration has pursued and served the American business community more aggressively and more systematically than any previous administration…”

Yet Bill de Blasio—who, along with former Clinton White House Senior Advisor George Stephanapoulos, was chosen to be a Truman Scholar by the secretive Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in the early 1980s--still agreed to serve the Clintons as Bill Clinton’s New York campaign director during Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential re-election campaign; and during Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, “the Democratic Party accepted so many contributions of questionable origin that it ultimately was forced to return at least $2.8 million in illegal or improper donations,” according to Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity’s book The Buying of The President 2000. But—apparently as a reward for being Bill Clinton’s New York campaign director in 1996—de Blasio was then given a high-salaried, publicly-funded job as Regional Director for the Clinton Administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], which uses federal funds to provide lucrative corporate welfare subsidies to big private real estate developers and landlords who agree to build or rent privately-owned, but federally-subsidized, housing units for “moderate”-income, elderly and—sometimes--low-income tenants—on a generally for-profit basis.

So, not surprisingly, as recently as late September 2013, when asked by The New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick to indicate “what sort of mayor” of the Big Apple he would be, de Blasio “pointed to Bill Clinton, in whose administration he served, pointing out that the former president had…governed effectively,” according an article by John Cassidy that appeared in the Sept. 27, 2013 issue of The New Yorker.

(end of part 2)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 1

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

“Mr. de Blasio becomes Mrs. Clinton's campaign manager during an uneasy period for her campaign…, Mrs. Clinton, who has never lived in New York, came to New York City to announce that she was indeed going to run for office...In Mr. de Blasio, Mrs. Clinton chose someone who…grew up in New York -- a point that was prominently mentioned in the single-page news release announcing the appointment…”

--the New York Times on Dec. 4, 1999

“…De Blasio is the leading candidate for mayor of New York,…poised to become the city’s second consecutive mayor with Massachusetts roots, succeeding Michael R. Bloomberg, a Medford native….De Blasio, 52, said growing up in Cambridge gave him a `very progressive grounding.’….De Blasio moved to Cambridge in 1966, when he was 5. His mother, Maria, was a public relations manager at Polaroid…De Blasio’s name then was Warren Wilhelm Jr….De Blasio rarely mentions his youth in Cambridge…His roots in the city are a potential sore spot…`I am very much a Red Sox fan,’ de Blasio said in the interview this month….”

--the Boston Globe on Sept. 30, 2013

“What does Bill de Blasio…have to do with Polaroidland?...The Boston Globe today revealed that his connection is sturdier than most: His mother, Maria Wilhelm, worked in Polaroid’s public-relations department for nearly twenty years. A quick search of newspaper databases reveals plenty of quotes (and a few `no comment’s) that she offered the press down through the years…I asked Donald Dery and Sam Yanes, each of whom ran Polaroid’s PR operation (Don until 1980, Sam thereafter), and they remember her well. (She died in 2007.) Sam offered this:`…Maria Wilhelm would just plow ahead, like a pro, working from 9 to 5, always on deadline, always on point.  Her main job was to place `Amazing Things Are Happening Here’ stories everywhere…When I was out of town, she looked after our financial and corporate communications concerns…’”

--from a Polaroidland blog post of Sept. 30, 2013

“…In 1970, a union tried to organize workers at the company. [Polaroid President and Chairman Edwin] Land regarded the attempt as an intrusion. The union organizing effort failed…”

--from Victor McElheny’s Insisting On The Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land in 1998

“Over 100 people rallied in front of Polaroid's main office building in Tech Square yesterday and demanded that the Cambridge-based corporation immediately terminate its activities in South Africa.

“Speakers at the rally, held to commemorate the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, continued to level their charge that Polaroid's ID-2 identification system is instrumental in the maintenance of apartheid…Chris Nteta, a black South African, noted that the United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid met earlier this month to discuss the firing of Polarold employees who had organized a boycott of Polaroid products to protest the company's continuing involvement in South Africa…Polaroid equipment…was responsible for 20 per cent of all pictures taken for passbooks in 1970, according to Polaroid statistics.

“Towards the close of the rally, Caroline Hunter, a member of the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement who was fired by Polaroid for organizing a boycott of Polaroid products, issued a `People's Warrant’ against Edwin H. Land, president and chairman of the board of Polaroid, for `Mass Murder.’ Hunter then set fire to four Polaroid cameras to dramatize the protest….”

--the Harvard Crimson on Mar. 23, 1971

Monday, March 24, 2014

Columbia University's CIA Connection In 2014--Part 1

"The Central Intelligence Agency has become a killing machine, an organization consumed with man hunting...After President Bush signed a secret order to escalate the CIA's war in Pakistan, Abu Khabib al-Masri was killed in a CIA drone strike, just 12 miles from the CIA base...During his first year in office, President Obama ordered a review of the roughly one dozen covert-action programs the CIA was carrying out at the time, from the drone strikes to a campaign to sabotage Iran's nuclear work...The summer 2009 meetings effectively rubber-stamped all of the CIA's secret ventures...By the time a `principals committee' meeting was scheduled for the fall, when President Obama's top national security advisers would make final decisions on the covert-action programs, not one of them was under consideration for cancellation...The Obama administration approved every one of the covert-action programs that had been handed down by President Bush...

--from New York Times National Security Correspondent Mark Mazzetti's 2013 book, The Way of The Knife

"Peter Clement, who recently began a two-year term as a visiting professor, joins SIPA from the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, where he spent the last eight years as deputy director for intelligence for analytic programs..."

--from a Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs [SIPA] website article on September 9, 2013

Columbia University's CIA Connection In 2014--Part 1

Most people who live in Manhattan opposed both the Bush-Cheney Administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003 and the Obama Administration's decision to escalate the CIA's covert drone war in Pakistan and other foreign countries after 2009.

Yet in 2013 the Columbia University administration's School of International and Public Affairs [SIPA] hired a 35-year veteran of the CIA--CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence Peter Clement--to be Columbia University's CIA Officer In Residence between 2013 and 2015.

In an interview that was posted on the Columbia University SIPA website on September 9, 2013, CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence Clement indicated how he came to be Columbia University's CIA Officer In Residence in 2014:

"The Agency's Officers in Residence program goes back several decades. Over the years the CIA has had people teach at different schools around the country--including Georgetown, MIT, Harvard, and Princeton--in departments of international affairs and related subjects...

"...Coming to SIPA was largely my idea...I knew Professors [Robert] Jervis and [Richard] Betts. I broached the OIR idea with Jervis, who consults for the CIA and he and Betts were both positive. And then, as I understand it, the appointment was reviewed and finalized...There are a healthy number of SIPA graduates in our workforce...I've spent much of my career at the nexus [of intelligence and foreign policy]. Attending White House meetings, you can see firsthand how senior policymakers use the product...If anyone has questions about the intelligence business, my door is open. I'm just really excited to be here, it's a great opportunity..."

According to New York Times National Security Correspondent Michael Mazzetti's 2013 book The Way Of The Knife, "targeted killings have made the CIA the indispensable  agency for the Obama administration."