THE HEZITORIAL ANALYSIS: The New York State Budget, The Moreland Commission, Ethics Reform and the Gubernatorial Election By HEZI ARIS

Hezi Aris Hezitorial 19 Comments

ehezi_charicature1The Moreland Commission has generated a lot of hysteria, but way too thick a smoke screen of obfuscation. Throw in the Real Estate Board of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Secretary Lawrence Schwartz, the alleged protagonists that cajoled this crisis into fevered pitch and you learn of fiction concocted to titillate while seemingly validating a well-managed plot whose plausible scenarios feign credibility. The facts differ from those offered by pundits who sense a smoldering fire. Let’s review what is known and the facets that fit into a puzzle that has eluded those watching this hoped for salacious story as it unfurls before an audience riveted to the shenanigans of Albany. The cage is being rattled. Nothing has been revealed; intentioned or political or illegal.

Hobbled with a seemingly endless diet of innuendos, scandals, and subsequent arrests, Gov. Andrew Cuomo set up the Moreland Commission to create a perception of ethical conduct among the members of the New York State Senate.

In the meanwhile, the contentiousness recognized in backroom discussions, and the recalcitrance intimated publicly before the New York State Senate, suggested New York State Senate Majority Co-leader Dean Skelos was reluctant to cast his votes for Governor Cuomo’s Proposed FY2014-2015 New York State Budget; to be also supported by the votes of his Co-leader Jeff Klein, head of the independent Democratic Conference.

In the meanwhile, the ten-member New York State District Attorneys who presided over the Moreland Commission, had learned that some Senators’ conduct was illegal. It would soon be learned that they numbered twenty.

Members of the New York State Senate are permitted to apply for transportation re-imbursement costs, that is, items such as gasoline, and toll costs. By law, the same Senators are entitled to charge their election campaign efforts for transportation re-imbursement. The illegality was revealed when it was discovered that some Senators filed for reimbursement from the New York State Senate, his/her political campaign effort, and or re-imbursement for miles travelled on Federal Income Tax returns. That would amount to double or triple dipping. A definite “No, no!” Not ethical and not legal.

Out of a current roster of 63 New York State Senators, 20 were found to be double-dipping. The twenty were all Republicans.

Gov. Cuomo approached Senator Skelos with a backroom “solution”. Gov. Cuomo would dismiss the Moreland Commission in exchange for a horse-trade with Sen. Skelos; rather than maintain his reluctance toward approving the budget, Sen. Skelos would instead approve Gov. Cuomo’s Proposed FY2014-2015 Budget. By dismantling the Moreland Commission, the 20 Senators engaged in allegedly illegal conduct would be free of a paper trail that if found, could exacerbate their earlier than expected political demise. Gov. Cuomo also wanted passage of Campaign Finance Legislation. Such a bill passed but it fell short of what Gov. Cuomo had hoped for.

Senator Skelos accepted the deal. In doing so, Sen. Skelos salvaged the careers of twenty Senators.

On the campaign trail, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has recoiled from the scandal; not quite bringing the political brouhaha to roost with Gov. Cuomo. Have you noticed that not one Republican Senator has endorsed the Astorino candidacy? Part of the deal.

Those who once ssweated out their possible demise before the likes of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara may not realize that a paper trail does indeed exist. A look at the reimbursement forms presented to the New York State Senate and those presented by the respective Senators by their political campaigns are public knowledge. Mr. Bharara has the added ability to gain access to IRS reports where tax write-off of mileage travelled and travel expenses may have been claimed that are duplicates or triplicates of similar, albeit redundant credit/reimbursement already claimed.

A sincere thank you to those that stirred this issue in my consciousness again and a thank you to those who honed the facts with the precision of a scalpel.

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Hezi ArisTHE HEZITORIAL ANALYSIS: The New York State Budget, The Moreland Commission, Ethics Reform and the Gubernatorial Election By HEZI ARIS

Comments 19

  1. That's what friends are for

    The attached NY Times story does not reflect well upon Yonkers, Mayor Spano or Governor Cuomo for all of the wrong reasons. While there is no secret that Spano is more aliened with the conservative Cuomo wing of the Democratic party and not the deBlasio progressive wing, and he also comes from the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” school of politics. What is disturbing is that Cuomo’s budget gave NYC the funds to provide full day Pre-K while Yonkers only received enough to keep half-day pre-K and they still have to borrow to recoup the education funds misapplied in the recent budget fiasco. If Spano is going to sell his soul for politics then he ought to command a higher price.
    Cuomo Aides Use Allies to Shore Up the Governor’s Image
    By THOMAS KAPLAN
    August 4, 2014
    ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s behind-the-scenes efforts to shore up support for his handling of an anticorruption panel inadvertently landed him in an even greater bind last week, prompting a scathing rebuke from the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
    But it also shined a spotlight on a covert public relations tactic that has been used by Mr. Cuomo’s aides, who are keenly sensitive to how their boss will be portrayed in the news media.
    The strategy — getting allies to send journalists laudatory statements, seemingly of their own volition — is one that, by showing no fingerprints of the governor’s aides, would seem to increase the credibility of the praise.
    Reporters were bombarded in February, for example, with statements from supporters of a plan by the governor to finance college classes for prison inmates, which he later abandoned after resistance from lawmakers.
    That same month, when Mr. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio were skirmishing over how to pay for an expansion of prekindergarten, a gaggle of mayors and county executives seemed to spontaneously throw their support behind Mr. Cuomo.
    One of the mayors who sided with Mr. Cuomo was Mike Spano, the mayor of Yonkers. On Feb. 12, his office sent an unsolicited statement to reporters in which he asserted that Mr. de Blasio’s proposal, which called for raising taxes on wealthy city residents, would cause half of the state’s children to be “left out in the cold” and would create “more inequality, not less.”
    Mr. Cuomo’s aides told multiple news organizations that they had not coordinated that barrage of statements, which produced biting headlines like “Upstate pols reject de Blasio pre-K tax plan.”
    But email correspondence newly obtained by The New York Times under the state’s Freedom of Information Law shows that the governor was indeed involved in promoting the criticism of Mr. de Blasio.
    At 7:29 p.m. on Feb. 12, Betsey Ball, the governor’s director of legislative affairs, sent an email to Mr. Spano’s chief of staff, Denise Egiziaco, with the subject line: “Thank you.” In the body of the message, she included email addresses for more than 200 journalists and news organizations.
    Three minutes later, Ms. Egiziaco confirmed receiving the list. Mr. Spano’s office sent reporters the statement at 8:18 p.m., and Ms. Egiziaco forwarded it to Ms. Ball at 8:20.
    A spokeswoman for Mr. Spano, Christina Gilmartin, said the issue of prekindergarten was of interest beyond Yonkers, and described the sharing of email addresses as a common practice among government press offices.
    “He just wanted to support the governor,” Ms. Gilmartin said, adding, “They have a more expansive press list than we do, obviously.”
    Asked to reconcile the emails with its previous denials that it had coordinated the statements, the governor’s office did not directly respond. A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, Richard Azzopardi, said in an email, “In building our case to the people, we believe it’s important to share the views of those we’ve consulted with who have helped inform our positions and form our policy stances.”
    Politicians routinely issue news releases containing favorable quotations from supporters, which often require extensive hidden negotiations — though Mr. Cuomo’s aides have sometimes simply ghostwritten them.
    But no batch of synchronous statements has drawn as much scrutiny as those released on July 28 by members of the now-defunct Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel.
    The statements followed a July 23 report in The Times that Mr. Cuomo’s office had deeply compromised the work of the Moreland Commission, intervening repeatedly when it focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo.
    Some commissioners were asked by people with ties to the governor to release supportive statements, according to people familiar with the matter who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisal.
    The Times Union of Albany reported last week that Joseph Percoco, a longtime Cuomo aide who is now managing the governor’s re-election campaign, offered to provide drafts of statements to some commissioners.
    But the flurry of statements from commissioners backing Mr. Cuomo prompted federal prosecutors to warn of the possibility of criminal witness tampering or obstruction of justice charges, given the ongoing investigation.
    The statements by Moreland Commission members were not the only ones that Mr. Cuomo’s office orchestrated in the aftermath of The Times’s story.
    Reporters received a flood of announcements from his office: an award bestowed upon a food safety laboratory; the creation of a group to study issues pertaining to the craft beer industry; and the governor’s signing of a bill to change the wheelchair symbol designating accessibility to people with disabilities.
    Several advocates separately emailed reporters to say they were pleased that Mr. Cuomo had signed the bill to change the accessibility symbol.
    Kevin Cleary, a lobbyist for an association of nonprofit groups that provide services to people with disabilities, said a press aide in Mr. Cuomo’s office had asked for statements, and advocates were eager to voice their support for the bill.
    “Nothing out of standard practice,” he said. “We were happy to promote it.”
    Susanne Craig contributed reporting.
    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/nyregion/cuomo-aides-use-allies-to-shore-up-the-governors-image.html?_r=1&referrer=

    1. CYA

      Spano already sold his soul. Coumo has done nothing but S##t on Yonkers since Spano took office(Gerry as Deputy mayor was the first dump) > Cutting the raceway out for the first round of casino’s was another. Coumo own’s the Spanos so why give them anything. A loyal dumb dog is what Spano is. PS. sorry for insulting a dog’s loyalty!

  2. just the facts

    the new york post had a story today about how worried andrew is about this investigation
    so worried about the polling results about to be released this week that he is browbeating those around him….don’t blame your staff andrew..blame your hubrous!

  3. Counterpoint

    Just the Facts – Today’s NY Daily News Editorial (http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/cuomo-blew-article-1.1889103) cites another instance of pressure by Governor’s office to have a subpoena withdrawn in connection with a $300,000 + Cuomo re-election campaign contributor.
    From the editorial:
    “Still more, after declaring that the commission would have total independence to probe Albany, Cuomo pushed the commission around behind the scenes.
    One example: When the Daily News revealed that the Legislature had granted tax breaks to the city’s most expensive condo project, this page concluded:
    “This giveaway to One57 has all the makings of a perfect case for Cuomo’s Moreland Act commission: large campaign contributions changing hands, lawmakers operating behind closed doors, special interests gaining undeserved benefits and taxpayers getting the shaft.”
    A later editorial carried the headline, “Follow Cuomo’s money, too,” after Albany Bureau Chief Ken Lovett disclosed that the developer had given $300,000 to the governor’s campaign over the past two years, including $100,000 shortly before Cuomo signed the tax breaks into law.
    Along the way, the governor’s office pressured the commission into dropping plans to subpoena the Real Estate Board of New York in favor of simply requesting information from the group.
    Numerous instances of similar interference add to the brief that Cuomo meddled with a commission that had become more than an arm of the governor the moment he granted it the attorney general’s authority. The distinction appears to have escaped Cuomo.”

    1. cbs

      Yet, no news on tv? This is much more damaging to Cuomo then the media is reporting. The feds don’t investigate just on rumors.

  4. threesidesto truth

    With all of this, still the new York vote will elect Cuomo because they are not watching and only harp on catch phrases or a one line statement from a news anchor who also has no knowledge of the subject attached to what she/he spew out in a one sentence ear catching line.

  5. just the facts

    this has nothing to do with the ethnicity of anyone please refrain from using pejoritive ethnic
    descriptions to bolster whatever argument you are making..we are all americans and if we
    are “slimeballs” it is not a result of our ethnicity

  6. Veritas

    Cuomo is, as Bob Grant so eloquently orated, a sfacchim. A low-life, demonseed just like his papa. Rob Astorino has a great chance at defeating this guinea slimeball. The republican party in New York is just like the republican party in Yonkers–a joke. They are all democrat-lites. Ya think that Greg Ball is not running for re-election again just because his squeeze is in Texas? No, it’s because they are charges against him that Moreland knew about but squashed.

    New York, for your own survival, vote out Cuomo and elect a human being with a soul as governor.

    Andy, news flash for ya. Preet Bharara is not going away. He doesn’t open his mouth unless he knows he’s got a solid case. If I were you, I’d be sweating bullets. But hey, New York taxpayers are paying for Andy’s lawyer.

    1. You can't beat this

      Am I reading this correctly?

      A “guinea slimeball”…?

      That’s real nice.

      BTW, isn’t Astorino Italian?

      Where’d you get this word sir?

      1. cbs

        Cuomo has a Pinocchio nose that keeps growing with all the lies. Just like his filthy father that tried to use the pension fund to balance NYS budget. Simply disgusting how nobody cares to remember history. Sheep…..ba, ba.

  7. just the facts

    this is the third consecutive democratic governor that doesn’t know where the line is. One
    party rule in new york has made the democratic process a joke. No one including Ed Cox
    really believed rob astorino had a snowballs chance in hell of defeating a democratic governor
    who was relatively moderate by new york state standards (see mayor di blasio as an example
    of how far left democrats are willing to go) and who had a 5-2 registration edge along with
    the endorsement of the independence party. But we are now learning that the a complaint
    to the moreland commission was made about the political extortion and other alleged
    pay to play for jobs that the westchester independence party chair has been engaged in
    for years by his own admissions (i didn’t support astorino because he didn’t give me
    the right to have input on jobs) and that the moreland commission was taking it seriously
    along with the republican senators improperly using their expense accounts as outlined above and along with other allegations involving democrats in new york city…So Cuomo decided
    to simply disolve the commission. The problem is that his staff more particularly Larry
    Schwartz was in the middle of the conspiracy to protect elected and party officials to
    the extent that he called the comission to force them “to withdraw” a subpoena issued
    to a media firm which also placed media for cuomo. THe cover up is always worse than
    the crime and now the US attorney is investigating and in an unusual move he publicly
    warned cuomo and the governor’s staff to refrain from attempting to influence witnesses
    by having them spin the commission and whatever involvement cuomo schwartz et al had
    as benign…but here is the problem for cuomo..Lying to a federal investigator is a crime
    so any of these moreland members have to tell the truth about any cuomo attempt to
    color their testimony.if they don’t they can get charged with perjury….similarly if they
    do tell about any influence from the governors office and cuomo is implicated he can
    be indicted for obstruction of justice or witness tampering or both….felonies! now if that
    happens and of course there is no guarantee that it will tell me about rob astorino’s chances
    to defeat someone thought to be unbeatable with a recent 37% lead in the polls!
    you can’t make this stuff up

  8. JR

    Hezi, there was alot more involved than saving the careers of 20 Republican State Senators – if indeed that were the case. For example, after the panel issued subpoenas demanding that law firms employing lawmakers disclose detailed client information, the Legislature passed a portion of the governor’s proposed ethics reforms. In return, Cuomo defunded the panel. Don’t you think Shelly Silver, Senator Klein, Sen. Skelos, and a myriad of other lawyers who are State Assemblymen and Senators (both Democrats and Republicans) benefitted from the deal?

  9. cbs

    This story seems much more reaching then bridge-gate in NJ, but we’ll see if politics play out, Christie a republican vs Cuomo a democrat and the partial news business.

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