The Week That Was – TW2 Minority Review, July 22


Get out of the heat and enjoy this week’s compilation of political stories involving our city’s minority political leaders. The Wall Street Journal reports on the here-to-fore unknown existence upstate place-names such as “Nigger Lake.” The DEC is trying to scrub those place-names from official state documents but admits that the State does not have the authority to change the names. Read on.

A vestige of a long-ago past, the n-word—fully spelled out—still lingers in NY state environmental conservation laws classifying bodies of water. Jacob Gershman reports that the state DEC is quietly removing the N-word from official documents. (WSJ)

Rep. Charlie Rangel says he has paid all the legal bills from his ethics probe, the Daily News reports, despite rumors he is saddled with mountains of debt. Read more here.

The Bronx News Network has an exclusive story on the upcoming rally Bronx postal workers are holding, along with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., to protest the shuttering of the borough’s post office branches and mail processing plant.

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) is calling for all New Yorkers to attend the “Stand Up And Be Heard Let the People Vote” Rally on Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 3PM in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York City office located at 633 Third Avenue near 41st Street and march to the United Nations.

Senator Reverend Diaz supports a public referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage. He promised, “This Sunday a thousand people will demonstrate in midtown to let Governor Cuomo and to Mayor Bloomberg know that even though the same-sex marriage law was approved by the legislature we will not be silenced! (No link)

Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson is joining a chorus of local leaders coming to the defense of the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French politician and former head of the International Monetary Fund. Read more here.

Councilman Ruben Wills may coast to re-election this year, but a couple of clouds lurk on the horizon. One is an August court date after Wills was unable to reach a plea deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office over several misdemeanor charges, an outstanding warrant and a small fine dating back more than a decade. If Wills is found guilty, that would also rekindle a City Council ethics committee investigation that is on hold until after the trial. (H/T City Hall News)

Nick Confessore reports that John Sampson, the State Senate leader, performed legal work for Edul Ahmad, a Queens real estate broker who was being investigated by state authorities on allegations of fraud and predatory lending, and was disciplined for acting as a notary for the broker after his notary license had expired, according to state documents. (NYT)

Congressman Ed Towns has to report his fundraising totals – $50,000 as of July – but his top rival, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, does not since his “exploratory committee” does not have to make disclosures with the Federal Election Commission. Jeffries is keeping his numbers under wrap, mainly to avoid antagonizing Towns into running again. He hopes the 28-year-incumbent will ultimately take a pass on re-election, though Towns insists he’s running. A bellwether could be how his daughter, Deidra Towns, fares in an upcoming Assembly special election. (H/T City Hall News)

The Daily News reports on Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr.who has already been accused of corruption by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and violating state ethics laws by the Legislative Ethics Committee – owes more than $21,350 in unpaid penalties to the Board of Elections for failing to file financial statements, according to Board spokesman John Conklin. Read more here.

Governor Cuomo has told appointees to stop all fundraising activity after joining the administration, but it’s easier said than done. Assemblyman Darryl Towns, the congressman’s son, was picked to run Cuomo’s housing department in February and resigned from the Assembly in April. Twelve days later, he paid fundraising consultant Kimberly Peeler-Allen $9,050 despite raising no money since February. A Cuomo spokesman said the payment covered services rendered over several months as she prepared for a fundraising reception that was later cancelled. Peeler-Allen soon started working for Deidra Towns, though she has been paid only $2,000 so far. (H/T City Hall News)

The NY Post is questioning the sale of public land that was shepherded through by two legislators — then-Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Queens) and Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens). Both received thousands in campaign contributions from the group. And the newspaper says Clark sponsored legislation that would allow the Indian Cultural Community Center to purchase even more property on the site. Read more.

New financial disclosure forms show Queens Councilman Peter Koo earned the most outside income in the Council, making at least $560,000 from five pharmacies he owns, the Post says.

The Daily News praises Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and teachers union president Michael Mulgrew for finding a compromise on teacher evaluations in 33 low-performing schools, saying it should be a model for all of them.

The six votes needed to appoint a new executive director of the Board of Elections appear to finally be lined up — but the departure of Staten Island Democratic commissioner Michael Ryan to run for Staten Island District Attorney has thrown another wrench in the works. Board sources say the five Democratic commissioners have essentially agreed to join with Bronx Republican Commissioner J.C. Polanco to vote in a six-person bloc for a new executive director chosen by Bronx Democratic chair Carl Heastie. That would allow Dawn Sandow, a Bronx Republican, to keep the deputy director post. But Ryan’s resignation to run a quixotic campaign against Dan Donovan leaves the bloc one vote short, and any new board member from Staten Island once selected would have to go through a lengthy vetting process. That could take a year. (H/T City and State First Read)

Sen. Malcolm Smith says he thinks his colleague Mike Gianaris, chair of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, is doing his best raising cash for the conference, given the circumstances. “Mike’s doing a terrific job,” Smith said, noting there was still $2 million left to pay off before Democrats are in the black. Republican candidates and their conference committee raised more than three times as much as Democrats, according to an analysis by NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney. Could the conference get there before 2012? “When I was leader, I focus on sections at a time,” Smith said. “I go month-to-month, what we can raise month-to-month. I don’t worry about the final bill.” (H/T City and State First Read)

In a report released Wednesday, Mr. Stringer said City Council “member items” create disparities between Council districts and should be abolished. At the bottom of the list were Bronx Councilmembers Helen Foster and Larry Seabrook, who each received $362,651. Ms. Quinn’s office said the system’s current checks-and-balances work to ensure that funds are appropriately disbursed and accounted for. Member items can be found online. (Crain’s NYB)

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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