View Full Version : NYC: Comrade Mayor De Blasio is going down!

The Bobster
04-24-2016, 08:28 AM

The mayor is going down!
By Michael Goodwin
April 24, 2016 | 2:10am

Less than a week ago, Mayor de Blasio was offering aid to Ecuadorians after the earthquake there. Now a political earthquake is rocking City Hall and the mayor is the one who needs help.

The report from the state Board of Elections that accuses him and his team of “willful and flagrant” violations of campaign-finance laws immediately changes everything.

The veneer of business as usual is shredded. Never again can de Blasio wave off questions about the mushrooming investigations of his administration. As revelations pile up day after day, allies will desert him and the Putz will find himself a very lonely man.

There is no way to sugarcoat the facts: de Blasio is in trouble. Maybe very big trouble.

His City Hall is being depicted as the seat of a criminal enterprise. And so far, he offers nothing resembling a convincing denial.

As bad as it is, the election report covering the 2014 state Senate races is just the start. The endgame involves the more lethal issue of whether de Blasio sold government favors to donors. That is what federal prosecutors are looking for, and I believe they will find a mother lode.

Yet if the election report were all there is, it would still be a problem. It calls one of the campaign violations a possible felony and refers its findings to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. for prosecution. That explains why Vance recently partnered up with US Attorney Preet Bharara in the multipronged probe, effectively doubling the number of prosecutors and investigators.

And that gets to the heart of de Blasio’s vulnerability. His 2014 Senate effort wasn’t unique. It is just one example of how he has done business since the day he won the election in 2013.

Think of it as de Blasio’s Big Idea. While denouncing income inequality, he was determined to harvest big bucks from unions and private firms that had business before the city, and then to use that money to carry out his “progressive agenda.”


He raised as much as $40 million and deposited it in various slush funds he formed, including the Campaign for One New York, which he started before he even took the oath of office.

The money would be managed by a small team of insiders. Some were on the city payroll, but most were in favored law firms, public relations and consultant shops. In effect, de Blasio outsourced a permanent political operation to be the vanguard of his administration.

The money would come from real-estate developers, yellow-taxi medallion owners, teachers unions and anybody else willing to play ball in hopes the mayor would *return the favors.

Oh, and one more thing: de Blasio would do much of the fund-raising himself, meeting with donors in large groups or one-on-one.

That is exactly the pattern he used in trying to help Democrats take back the state Senate in 2014. “The entire fund-raising and campaign operation was run from City Hall by de Blasio staff in coordination with unions and Campaign for One New York officers and political consultants,” wrote Risa Sugarman, chief enforcement officer of the state Board of Elections.

She reports that some of the big checks that found their way into small upstate county political committees contained the words “donation per Mayor.”

Even before her findings were released, there were reports of new subpoenas being issued and a grand jury-hearing testimony. That suggests that the probes are well beyond the preliminary stage and that prosecutors are confident crimes have been committed.

It is almost impossible to believe that de Blasio will emerge unscathed. Though he is notoriously uninterested in policy *details, he has been fully engaged in politics and all the deals and transactions.

It can be no comfort to him that Bharara, who brought down former Albany kingpins Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, is on the case. If the mayor knows a good *defense lawyer, he ought to hire him *immediately.

My belief, based on what we know so far, is that the money de Blasio raised in large amounts was fungible. It was moved from fund to fund and distributed according to the mayor’s instructions. I also believe many donors didn’t care about the specific issues they ostensibly were contributing to, only that they wanted to please the mayor.

One notorious example could be NYCLASS, the group that spent nearly $1 million to defeat de Blasio rival Christine Quinn in the 2013 Democratic primary. Its leaders, Steven Nislick and Wendy Neu, wanted to ban carriage horses, and when de Blasio promised he would after Quinn refused, a barrage of ads against Quinn helped demolish her. Some of the ad money came from odd sources that had no direct interest in the horses, only in de Blasio’s success.

But even as mayor he has been unable to shut down the horse-carriage industry — despite extraordinary efforts that included a proposal to spend $25 million in taxpayer money to put the horses in Central Park. During negotiations, Nislick and Neu said they met with de Blasio and approved his proposal. And don’t forget the huge raise the mayor approved for the City Council while its members considered his plan.

The access of NYCLASS, which received a subpoena, is the kind that money buys. It becomes illegal when there is a quid pro quo.

If de Blasio’s operation has committed crimes, New York is on the verge of a crisis unique in modern times.

The largest corruption scandal to rock City Hall in our era occurred in Ed Koch’s third term, which began in 1986. It, too, had many tentacles, from the old Board of Estimate to the Parking Violations Bureau to real-estate deals and patronage.

Queens Borough President Donald Manes committed suicide, political bosses like Stanley Friedman went to prison and a tarnished Bess Myerson won acquittal *after a sensational trial.

Yet Koch was never charged or implicated in any crime and went on to finish the term with solid accomplishments, though he did lose the next election.

The current mayor should be so lucky.

The Bobster
04-24-2016, 08:33 AM

De Blasio used ‘slush fund’ to support faulty pre-K programs
By Susan Edelman
April 24, 2016 | 1:02am


Mayor de Blasio’s office arranged for a nonprofit fund to loan $1.36 million to four private pre-kindergarten programs too troubled to get city contracts. Now it wants to use taxpayer money to repay the loans.

Education watchdogs say the mayor side-stepped procedures that guard against waste and abuse by asking the Fund for the City of New York to finance the faulty pre-K vendors.

“It’s like using a slush fund to avoid their own procurement rules,” said Patrick Sullivan, a former member of the Panel for Educational Policy, which votes on Department of Education contracts.

The moves come amid charges that the mayor created another nonprofit, Campaign for One New York, as a political slush fund to finance his agenda. In a probe revealed Friday, the state Board of Elections found that de Blasio and his top aides used the nonprofit to *illegally raise money for fellow Democrats.

The 50-year-old Fund for the City of New York created an interest-free-loan program in 1976 to provide cash to nonprofits waiting for money from approved government contracts. In this case, the city gave a green light for pre-K programs to accept kids last school year despite problems including tax evasion, misspending public funds and failure to hire sufficient qualified staff — a move Sullivan called “irresponsible.”

Other critics agreed.

“It puts the taxpayers’ money at risk and it puts vulnerable children at risk,” said Leonie Haimson, an education advocate with Class Size Matters and a DOE budget watchdog.

In a rush to expand de Blasio’s signature Pre-K for All initiative in 2014-15, the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services asked the Fund for the City of New York to give “bridge loans” to the four vendors to pay teachers and other expenses pending the background stamp of approval:

•Church Avenue Day Care in Brooklyn, whose program cost $768,676, did not file city corporate tax returns from 2010 to 2014, which disqualified the vendor. Phone numbers listed for the company were out of service Friday.

•B’Above WorldWide Institute in Richmond Hill, Queens, loaned $330,050, failed to fix problems with oversight, staffing, rec*ords management and curriculum, records show. A representative did not return a call.

•Footsteps Childcare in Brooklyn, loaned $133,840, was accused in 2008 of “numerous instances of failure to demonstrate that it had spent monies properly” under a former contract with the state Office of Children and Family Services. It reimbursed $64,000 of $100,000 the state found misappropriated. “I don’t want to talk about it,” Footsteps *Director Monica McDonald said Friday.

•West Harlem Community Organization, loaned $130,000, owes state and federal taxes and has not yet settled with the IRS. In addition, the city Health Department shut down a pre-K class it was running under the Administration for Children’s Services for failure to hire qualified teachers and do background checks on some staff. The *issues were fixed and the program reopened last July 1, representatives said.

The DOE has since dropped all four pre-K providers. Now it plans to ask the city Comptroller’s Office to retroactively approve contracts with the vendors so taxpayer money can repay the Fund for the City of New York for its bridge loans.

Experts called the unusual request an *end-run around the rules.

“We will review these contracts when they are submitted,” said comptroller spokesman Eric Sumberg.

The DOE says taxpayers should foot the bill even though it found the vendors “nonresponsible” and lacking the required integrity to win contracts.

Leonie Haimson, an education advocate and DOE budget watchdog
Photo: Kristy Leibowitz

All pre-K providers undergo a “rigorous review process” and strict oversight, said DOE spokeswoman Toya Holness, adding that performance or safety problems can result in immediate suspension or eventual termination.

“All families can rest assured their child is in a safe and supportive learning environment,” Holness said.

The Bobster
04-24-2016, 08:35 AM

City Hall backed campaigns with series of checks to ‘dodge’ limits
By Carl Campanile and David K. Li
April 24, 2016 | 1:39am

Bill de Blasio and his team brazenly ran political campaigns straight out of City Hall, according to state investigators.

The administration was still reeling Saturday from a state Board of Elections memo that alleged City Hall made “willful and flagrant” violations of campaign finance law by steering unions and deep-pocketed donors to indirectly funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to three upstate Democrats running for the state Senate.

The big-money donors would cut six-digit checks to county Democratic committees, which would then send the money to the campaigns, thus circumventing legal caps on contributions.

“The entire fund-raising and campaign operation was run from City Hall by de Blasio staff,” read the stunning findings by Risa Sugarman, chief enforcement counsel for the state Board of Elections.

The blockbuster memo recommended the case be prosecuted by the Manhattan district attorney but did not single out who should be charged. A rep for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. declined to comment on Saturday.

While Sugarman’s memo focused on the evasion of contribution limits, it also raised the shocking spectre of violations of city conflict-of-interest laws, which prohibit public servants from helping political candidates while working on the taxpayer dime or on city equipment.

“I don’t ever recall reading or hearing about anything like that — someone saying the mayor of New York raising campaign funds right out of City Hall,” said veteran New York political consultant and former Ed Koch aide Jerry Skurnik. “This would be a first in my memory.”


Back in 2014, Igor Oberman — a former counsel at New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission — was fined $7,500 for using his TLC office and phone to run his City Council campaign.

State probers noted that de Blasio’s legislative director, Emma Wolfe, orchestrated an Aug. 25, 2014, meeting with state Senate candidate Justin Wagner and UFT boss Michael Mulgrew about Wagner’s campaign.

Government watchdogs took de Blasio to the woodshed on Saturday for his shady campaigning.

“New Yorkers won’t want their mayor bending the rules. He set up a scheme to evade campaign contributions limits. That much is clear,” said Dick Dadey, director of Citizens Union.

Dadey called de Blasio’s moves an “incestuous web” that end in massive campaign contributions going into pockets of his campaign consultants hired to run the upstate Senate Democratic races.

“It was collusion,” he said. “The mayor has a lot of explaining to do.”

A de Blasio spokeswoman denied that her boss broke any laws.

“We are confident that all of our efforts were appropriate and in accordance with the law at all times,” Karen Hinton said Saturday. “The mayor’s office will cooperate fully with the investigations.”

De Blasio and his minions were allegedly dodging state campaign financing statutes which cap individual donations at $10,300 per candidate. But a donor can give as much as $103,000 to a political committee, which can then send unlimited funds to any campaign.

In an effort to swing the state Senate back to Democratic control in 2014, de Blasio sought to raise money for the campaigns of Wagner, Terry Gipson and Cecilia Tkaczyk.

His team allegedly advised unions and rich donors to contribute to the Ulster and Putnam county Democratic committees, which in turn funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the candidates’ campaigns.

All three Democrats lost their races. Republicans still control the chamber.

The Bobster
04-24-2016, 08:38 AM

How the city knew about, and tried to undo, $116M nursing-home flip
By Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein
April 24, 2016 | 12:28am

Bill de Blasio says he wasn't aware of a deal at 45 Rivington St. (right), but his administration did. Photo: Chad Rachman; William C. Lopez

Mayor de Blasio said on March 28 that he had only recently learned about a controversial deal to turn a Lower East Side nursing home into luxury condos, and only after reading about it in the press.

But a month before he made this statement, panicked officials at the highest levels of his administration were offering millions of dollars to undo the deal — aware that they had made a huge mistake, The Post has learned.

On Feb. 24, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen’s chief of staff frantically offered a $16.1 million refund to The Allure Group, which had paid the fee to get a deed restriction lifted on the property at 45 Rivington St. The deed change allowed Allure to sell the property to a luxury-condo *developer for $116 million.

In return for the refund, Allure was told, the city sought a long-term care facility or affordable housing, according to a source close to the negotiations and evidence reviewed by The Post.

Those two options were what “the Mayor’s *Office wants,” James Patchett, chief of staff to Glen, told Allure’s rep, the source said.

Glen is the city’s economic development czar and a close adviser to de Blasio.

But a crestfallen Patchett — who blamed a bungling city agency for the whole mess — was told it was too late; the sale had already gone through.

An increasingly desperate Patchett persisted, calling the situation an “important issue to us” and saying he would “highly encourage” Allure to change the outcome, the source said.

The scandal is a major embarrassment for a mayor who has championed affordable housing.

Allure paid $28 million for the Rivington House facility in February 2015. The deed on the property, a former public school and later an AIDS hospice, limited its use to a nonprofit residential health-care facility. The Allure Group, because it was a for-profit firm, needed the deed changed in order to continue to operate.

The city said it would change the deed for $16.1 million, but Allure balked, calling the price too high for a nursing home that was largely *dependent on government Medicaid reimbursements, the source said.


De Blasio now claims Allure “lied” about keeping the property a nursing home, but the source said Allure repeatedly told the city it intended to keep the property as a care facility — but that it couldn’t afford to do so after the $16.1 million payment.

The city, which based the fee on its $65 million appraisal of the property, would not budge. The city Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which handled the negotiations, was determined to get all it could.

In fact, DCAS was so anxious to get the cash that in January 2015 it urged Village Care, the former owner of the nursing home, to “expeditiously” submit documents to complete the deed deal.

Assistant DCAS Commissioner Randal Fong wrote a Jan. 9, 2015, letter, obtained by The Post, to Emma DeVito, the CEO of the nonprofit Village Care, which ran the AIDS facility. It said: “Please confirm in writing that you agree to the value to *remove the restrictions.”

Village Care had been trying since 2013 to abolish the deed restriction so it could sell the facility to raise cash. It hired James Capalino, a lobbyist and major de Blasio donor, to convince the city to scrap the covenant.

By the time Village Care ended Capalino’s contract at the end of October 2014, the process to lift the restriction seemed well underway. After Allure bought the building in February 2015, it met with DCAS officials to finalize the deal.

A spokeswoman for Allure *refused to comment.

“The mayor is committed to getting to the bottom of what happened, holding people accountable and determining the best path forward for helping the community,” said mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton. “We are cooperating fully with the investigations.”

04-24-2016, 10:38 PM
NYC: More de Blasio cronies eyed as feds widen corruption probe (http://nypost.com/2016/04/23/more-de-blasio-cronies-eyed-as-feds-widen-corruption-probe/)
NYC: De Blasio’s imminent demise sparks hunt for a challenger (http://nypost.com/2016/04/24/de-blasios-imminent-demise-sparks-hunt-for-a-challenger/)