Justice delayed for Shelly Silver | New York Post Editorial

Four months later…

Justice delayed for Shelly Silver

By Post Editorial Board

August 25, 2016

Shelly Silver will stay out of jail for what looks to be another year, thanks to US District Court Judge Valerie Caproni’s ruling Thursday that the disgraced former Assembly speaker can remain free on bail pending his appeal of his landmark corruption conviction.

But it’s justice delayed, not denied — yet. And he still must start making payments on the $7 million he owes in fines and restitution as a result of his conviction.

What’s up? Caprioni saw a decent chance that Silver could win his appeal thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling that tossed the conviction of Virginia ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell.

But that’s far from a sure thing — because the crimes that earned Silver a 12-year bribery sentence were markedly different from the McDonnell case.

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The high court let the Virginian off because he hadn’t actually provided official actions in exchange for the gifts he received from a businessman.

Silver, by contrast, plainly did abuse his office: most notably, to funnel $500,000 in state funds to a doctor who then referred patients to Silver’s law firm, for which the firm paid the speaker millions.

That leaves Silver’s lawyers hoping to make a procedural case — namely, that because Caprioni didn’t define “official action” for the jury, his conviction might be tainted.

We trust US Attorney Preet Bharara’s team can persuade the courts otherwise. Sheldon Silver plainly belongs in prison.


Michael Benjamin
From my Samsung S6

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Councilman Andy King Dodges Dutie

Councilman Andy King Dodges Duties

Bronx Councilman Andy King has skipped roughly a third of his required meetings as council member, leaving him with one of the worst attendance records on the City Council. Of 89 hearings he has missed 29, further marring his political career after accusations of sexual harassment earlier this year. He claims the two are not connected.

Michael Benjamin

Skype: SquarePegDem

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Miss World’s obscene pro-China censorship |NY Post Editorial Board

Miss World’s obscene pro-China censorship
By Post Editorial Board | December 14, 2016

Spoke aout against China’s illegal organ harvesting and persecution of Falun gong practitioners

‘Beauty with a purpose” is how the Miss World Organization bills itself — but that purpose apparently includes covering up the ugliest of human-rights abuses.

Miss World execs muzzled Anastasia Lin, the Chinese-born Miss Canada who moonlights as a human-rights activist.

This is actually her second year as Canada’s Miss World entry: Chinese authorities refused to allow her into the country to compete in last year’s final.

She’ll make it to this year’s pageant in Washington — but she’s spent the last three weeks under orders to not speak publicly about Beijing’s horrors, especially its abuse of prisoners of conscience.

Her friends and family said she’d even been banned from attending the US premiere of a film she stars in, “The Bleeding Edge,” an exposé of China’s organ-harvesting from political prisoners.

Miss World Organization chief Julia Morley insisted Lin “is a free person to do exactly what she wishes to do.” Yet it took a wave of publicity before pageant officials would give Lin the OK to speak freely to the news media — and to attend the premiere next Wednesday.

The Miss World finale on Sunday is expected to draw 1 billion viewers — and plainly the pageant sponsors feared losing revenue if they upset the rulers of the globe’s most populous nation.

The corruption of international competition goes far beyond the filthy world of global sports contests.

Michael Benjamin
Twitter: @SquarePegDem
Contact Telephone: 862-232-4085

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Elections 2016: Where Do We Go From Here? | CUNY TV Video

Michael Benjamin (aka @SquarePegDem) was a guest panelist on CUNY Forum talking about Trump’s victory. To see the discussion, click on the CUNY Forum YouTube link below.

Elections 2016: Where Do We Go From Here?

Host: Bob Liff

Prof. Heath Brown, John Jay College
Leticia Remauro, Von Consulting
Gerson Borrero, City and State NY
Michael Benjamin, NY Post


Michael Benjamin
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What Donald Trump’s Preet pick means for de Blasio, Cuomo and Giuliani | Crain’s

What Donald Trump’s Preet pick means for de Blasio, Cuomo and Giuliani

The possible reasons behind President-elect’s decision to keep U.S. Attorney Bharara By Jeremy Smerd

Of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees so far, the most curious—from a New York perspective—is Preet Bharara, President Barack Obama’s U.S. attorney for the Southern District, who agreed last week to work under Republican Attorney General-nominee Jeff Sessions.

Charles Schumer, who had long ago hired Bharara as his chief counsel, reportedly blessed the deal, lending it an aura of bipartisanship.

The choice indicates that Trump, who has said he will “drain the swamp” in Washington, likes what Bharara has done so far in New York, where he has taken down former state Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, among others.

In Bharara, Trump finds a prosecutor who is above reproach and who can keep the pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom Trump has called “the worst mayor in the history of New York City.” Bharara is investigating the mayor’s fundraising operations and role in the sale of Long Island College Hospital. Retaining Bharara also makes life uncomfortable for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Bharara recently obtained a guilty plea—and cooperation—from a Cuomo confidant and has charged others, including a former top aide, in a wide-ranging indictment involving the governor’s upstate economic-development programs.

All this suggests that Bharara will continue to be given wide discretion in how he conducts his job. Some insiders are speculating there could be fallout from Rudy Giuliani’s boast in October about having connections inside the FBI that would affect the election. “We’ve got a couple of surprises left,” the Trump surrogate told Fox News on Oct. 25. Three days later, FBI Director James Comey said agents working on the Anthony Weiner sexting investigation had found emails that appeared relevant to the Hillary Clinton email probe, which he had previously said was closed.

Some former prosecutors believe a Southern District investigation into a possible leak in the Weiner case is imminent, if not already underway. Bharara’s office declined to comment. “A leak of confidential law enforcement information is always troubling because it corrupts the integrity of our criminal justice system and calls its fairness into doubt,” said a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District.

“Nowhere is this more true than when the investigation itself involves allegations of corruption by public officials, because the leaks are inevitably seen as politically motivated attacks.” Giuliani was an effective surrogate but, like Gov. Chris Christie (and perhaps for similar reasons), he seems to have been pushed aside. If an investigation materializes, then Trump—intentionally or not—would really have a bipartisan claim to draining the swamp.

A version of this article appears in the December 5, 2016, print issue of Crain’s New York Busines

Twitter: @SquarePegDem

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Lobbyist’s income has tripled since Heastie became speaker | nypost.com

Lobbyist’s income has tripled since Heastie became speaker
By Carl Campanile
November 28, 2016

It pays to be a pal of the Assembly speaker.

Patrick Jenkins, a longtime friend and $4,000-a-month political adviser to Speaker Carl Heastie, who replaced corrupt Sheldon Silver in the powerful post, has seen his lobbying business triple since his buddy became speaker last year, according to records reviewed by The Post.

The number of lobbying clients represented by Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates skyrocketed from nine during the 2013-2014 legislative session to 27 in 2015-2016 sessions — making Heastie’s chum an emerging Albany power broker, records filed with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics show.


Michael Benjamin
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Giving thanks: presidents from Washington to Obama | NY Post

By Post Editorial Board November 23, 2016 | 7:18pm

The first Thanksgiving in the New World was celebrated in 1621, nearly a year after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

In 1789, George Washington became the first of many US presidents to formally proclaim a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer”:

I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln likewise called for a day of Thanksgiving in November:

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

President Obama on Wednesday issued his own Thanksgiving proclamation:

Nearly 400 years ago, a small band of Pilgrims fled persecution and violence and came to this land as refugees in search of opportunity and the freedom to practice their faith. Though the journey was rough and their first winter harsh, the friendly embrace of an indigenous people, the Wampanoag — who offered gracious lessons in agriculture and crop production — led to their successful first harvest.

The Pilgrims were grateful they could rely on the generosity of the Wampanoag people, without whom they would not have survived their first year in the new land, and together they celebrated this bounty with a festival that lasted for days and prompted the tradition of an annual day of giving thanks.

This history teaches us that the American instinct has never been to seek isolation in opposite corners; it is to find strength in our common creed and forge unity from our great diversity. . . .

On this holiday, we count our blessings and renew our commitment to giving back. We give thanks for our troops and our veterans — and their families — who give of themselves to protect the values we cherish; for the first responders, teachers and engaged Americans who serve their communities; and for the chance to live in a country founded on the belief that all of us are created equal. . . .

For generations, our Nation’s progress has been carried forward by those who act on the obligations we have to one another. Each year on Thanksgiving, the selflessness and decency of the American people surface in food banks and shelters across our country, in time spent caring for the sick and the stranger, and in efforts to empathize with those with whom we disagree and to recognize that every individual is worthy of compassion and care. As we gather in the company of our friends, families, and communities — just as the Pilgrims and the Wam­panoag did centuries ago — let us strive to lift up others, promote tolerance and inclusiveness, and give thanks for the joy and love that surround all of us.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 24, 2016, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together . . . and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


Michael Benjamin
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Bill de Blasio’s Budget Blues | NY Post

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The Poughkeepsie Journal: Cahill, Hayes cite ethics reform as key concern

From The Poughkeepsie Journal:

"The most important thing is getting back to Albany to restore the public’s faith and trust in operation of government," [10-term incumbent Kevin] Cahill said. "Expanding ethics law, expanding campaign finance laws, and insisting on stricter compliance on the part of the my colleagues."

Cahill, 60, has represented the 103rd Assembly district, which includes much of Ulster County and the towns of Rhinebeck and Red Hook in Dutchess County, since 1999 after serving a single term in 1993 and 1994.

Hayes, formerly town supervisor of Gardiner and an Ulster County legislator, said ‘whether the county and the towns can set a temporary sales’ is a key issue, and he would fight togive Ulster County the authority to set titssales tax rate, rather


Michael Benjamin
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Kingston Assemblyman Cahill Acknowledges Double Billing | TIMES HERALD-RECORD

Assemblyman Cahill acknowledges double payments

Posted Oct 27, 2016 at 7:56 PM
Updated Oct 27, 2016 at 8:09 PM

By Paul Brooks
Times Herald-Record

KINGSTON — Assemblyman Kevin Cahill collected personal reimbursements from the state for travel expenses he had paid with money from his campaign account, a possible violation of the law, according to a Times Herald-Record review of state and campaign records.

In an Oct. 25 emailed response to questions from the Times Herald-Record, Cahill acknowledged the double payments. He said his staff was supposed to track expenses, reimbursements and travel, but had not. "They were, of course, supposed to notify me when a state reimbursement check was to cover expenses for something previously paid by the campaign," he said, "but that didn’t happen either."

The 10-term legislator from Kingston, who chairs the Assembly’s powerful Insurance Committee, said the responsibility for the mistakes is, in the end, his. He said he is revising and buttressing his campaign-finance operations.

"I owe it to the public to avoid anything that can even just raise such concerns," he said. "They’ve had enough of that already."

The Record discovered the double payments while reviewing five years worth of campaign expenditure records, as well as state Legislature travel and expenditure records, for several state legislators from the mid-Hudson. The research took place over the past two months.

Cahill said he was not aware of the bookkeeping problems until the inquiry from the Record.

In a telephone conversation Thursday, he said he had worked very hard to protect his reputation. The revelations, he said, "are nothing short of devastating."


Gerald Benjamin, a former dean at SUNY New Paltz and respected political scientist, said Cahill had worked with his foundation in the past. "He has been very careful" to act ethically, Benjamin said. "I know he cares about it."


Michael Benjamin
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