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Monday, August 27, 2012

Bronx Politicians Make Not-for-Profits Their Piggybanks


Bronx BP Diaz Endorsing Assemblywoman Rivera
 Here is an article from the Daily News outlining the continuing problem of Bronx politicians using not-for-profit organizations they control as their piggybanks.  The latest one to get ensnared is Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera. 

38 comments:

  1. It's always the MONEY .... the non-profit money .... just follow the money!

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    1. Unhappy with politicians? This is why.

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    2. no surprise really

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    3. Are entitlements Corrupting Us? Yes

      Read all about it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444914904577619671931313542.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

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  2. Just look at the recent arrest of State Senator Shirley Huntley of Queens for a scandal involving legislative "member items." It's a rare state indictment against a sitting Albany lawmaker.

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  3. Always the same kind of misconduct: Lawmakers steer taxpayer bucks to shady not-for-profit groups founded by them and staffed by their cronies.

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  4. such a sleazy gang of scumbags

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    1. And officially dumber than a bag of rocks!!

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  5. Who are those unlucky people behind them in the picture?

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  6. Not all politicians start bad but so many of them end that way. It is a real shame and embarrassment for NY State.. Term limits for members of the NY Senate & Assembly would be a big help since the tendency toward corruption seems to increase the longer these legislators hold office. Most state legislators are not very ambitious or creative types, and once they get ellected they never want to leave. And the system is organized to protect incumbents, so even someone like Naomi Rivera will get the backing of her fellow incumbents and will be reelected again and again. With term limits you also get a turnover that brings fresh faces and new ideas to Albany.

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    1. I think legislative term limits would really help fight the culture of corruption in Albany.

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    2. Is anyone forcing the voters to keep picking the same politicians?........then quit complaining......

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  7. Don't forget that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr sold out our community: http://www.welcome2melrose.com/wordpress/2012/02/mr-borough-president-ruben-diaz-jr-why-did-you-sell-out-our-community/

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    1. As someone noted in a previous blog comment, RUBEN DIAZ, JR. was first elected Bronx Borough President in a SPECIAL ELECTION in 2009 where he received just 28,301 votes . . . That’s LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT (or 4.29 percent to be more precise) of the approximately 660,000 registered voters in the Bronx, and just TWO PERCENT of the nearly 1.4 million people who live in the Bronx.

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  8. What kind of idiot wears a Naomi Rivera tee shirt?

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  9. Clint Eastwood for President?

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  10. This sucks and it makes it look like the Bx has only shit politicians!

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    Replies
    1. Well maybe that's because so many of them ARE shit.

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  11. Had enough? Vote them out!

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  12. One after another, these pols are so dumb.

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  13. J.R. Dobbs is BishopSeptember 2, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    A Legislator has to have the balls to get a proposal out of committee without serious repercussions. Governor Cuomo can negotiate indictments against Silver for legislation. But he is a coward. Silver will never get indicted. New York City voters have been brainwashed to hate Republicans and Conservatives then there are no longer alternatives.

    Jeffrey Klein is running for Senate with the Republican line in November, and I will vote for him on that ballot. Hope all savvy Bronx voters in the district do the same.

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  14. Here is a related story from today's Post:


    New York Post / Sept. 2, 2012

    $WEET LIFE IN ROTTEN APPLE

    State pols in ‘sham’ charity scandals

    By Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein

    It’s the Albany way.

    A politician starts a nonprofit and then pumps taxpayer money into it, with the cash often landing in the pockets of friends or family at the charity.

    State Sen. Shirley Huntley founded The Parent Workshop, and the state grant she steered to it led to her arrest last week.

    The Queens Democrat was indicted after a probe by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, prompted by a Post exposé. She was charged with trying to cover up the alleged theft of $29,950 in state money that went to the organization. Huntley’s niece and an aide were also charged in the purported scheme to pocket the taxpayer cash.

    Other state lawmakers with shady non-profits include:

    Malcolm Smith

    State Sen. Malcolm Smith and Rep. Gregory Meeks, each a Queens Democrat, were among those credited with founding the New Direction Local Development Corp. in 2001. Smith’s wife was on the initial board of directors.

    Later that year, Smith began sending state member-item cash to the Queens group, an amount that eventually totaled more than $56,000. One $10,000 grant was to go toward the salary of a former Smith staffer who was the group’s executive director.

    But the group had little accountability for how it spent its money. A separate fund it started in 2005 to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina gave out a small fraction of the more than $30,000 it raised, according to public documents. The rest of the money remains missing.

    A New Orleans resident who was coordinating the distribution of the promised aid money to local victims said it never arrived.

    Smith has maintained he had nothing to do with the operation of the charity and didn’t know what happened to the Katrina cash.

    Federal prosecutors began probing the now-defunct non-profit after a 2010 Post exposé.

    Vivian Cook

    Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, who has represented Jamaica and surrounding areas since 1991, set up the Rockaway Boulevard Local Development Corp. in 1979.

    The Queens Democrat lobbied the Port Authority for money for the nonprofit when the PA was planning to build the nearby AirTrain to Kennedy Airport. The agency agreed to provide $8 million to the nonprofit as part an effort to mitigate the impact of the AirTrain construction on local communities and by 2010 had paid out $2.5 million.

    The LDC was supposed to build a business-resource center and in 2006 spent $560,500 to buy a vacant lot on Rockaway Boulevard. It remains an empty, weed-choked eyesore.

    The nonprofit, which had at least two paid employees, also spent more than $250,000 on street sweeping along Rockaway Boulevard, although it farmed that work out to another nonprofit.

    After The Post exposed the wasteful spending in 2010, the Port Authority opened an investigation and said it would no longer fund the organization, which has since shut its doors. The US Attorney’s Office also opened a probe.

    Barbara Clark

    Democratic Assemblywoman Barbara Clark helped found the Community Care Development Project in 1989, two years after taking office, and steered almost $500,000 in state money to it.

    The group operated out of a storefront down the street from Clark’s office in Queens Village and offered similar services, such as helping people avoid bureaucratic obstacles.

    What the group actually does, however, is a mystery. Most of the taxpayer money went to rent, salaries and office expenses. In 2010, when The Post visited its offices, there was just one employee sitting at a desk, unable to help with any questions.

    The nonprofit shut its doors on Nov. 30, 2011, because it no longer received state funding, according to former director Shirley Alexander.

    melissa.klein@nypost.com

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/weet_life_in_rotten_apple_ADrQqUwJK9eVuwr08X2zUN#ixzz25K3VGv9C




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    1. I think it is just appalling that people like this hold public office. And nothing will change unless the voters insist on it.

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  15. Assemblywoman Rivera will WIN BIG in the 80th AD on primary day because nobody votes in her district except for her cronies and staff and their friends and families, and that's the way she likes it.

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  16. So if I got it right, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera is under investigation for allegedly installing her boyfriend as head of a local nonprofit (the Bronx Council for Economic Development) and using the group's taxpayer-funded account for personal and political purposes.

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  17. Why is Bx BP Ruben Diaz endorsing such a person?

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  18. Isn't to time to scrap the pork?

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  19. Do You Kown Who Your State AssemblyWoman Is Banging With Your Tax Dollars?

    Read more: http://theerant.yuku.com/topic/52403#.UET0vY5OF0A

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  20. Here's a current opinion article in Crain's on the abuse of "member items" by lawmakers:

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    Crain's New York Business
    September 10, 2012

    Opinion

    'MEMBER ITEMS' ARE TOO OFTEN RACKETS
    The use of publicly funded entities as a personal cookie jar has a long history here.

    By Alair Townsend

    Do we elect people with larceny in their hearts, or do we make it too easy for them to succumb to temptation? The recent parade of state and local pols who made the news for evildoing joined a long list of New York officials who have defrauded the public.

    Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, Democrat of the Bronx, gave new meaning to "pay to play" by allegedly putting two boyfriends on the payroll-one at her district office while he held a full-time teaching job with our public schools and the other as head of a taxpayer-funded nonprofit, the Bronx Council for Economic Development. Ms. Rivera also apparently used City Council funds for dinners with her boyfriend as well as campaign expenses. However, enriching people like Ms. Rivera may be the most important role the council plays for the community. Despite her legal issues, the Bronx Democratic organization is going all-out to support her in a four-way primary this week.

    The use of publicly funded entities as a personal cookie jar has a long history here. You can easily see a pattern. State Sen. Shirley Huntley, D-Queens, was indicted in conjunction with a nonprofit she established and for which she got "member item" state funding. Authorities say it existed only on paper and doled out $30,000 to people who did no work. As investigators closed in, Ms. Huntley allegedly tried to falsify documents to show that program activity had occurred.

    Former City Councilman Hiram Monserrate, another Queens Democrat, is now serving time for funneling city funds he got as a member item for a social service agency to his campaign for the state Senate.

    This year, Mr. Monserrate's onetime Senate ally, Pedro Espada Jr., was convicted of siphoning nearly $450,000 from a health provider he founded to fund an extravagant lifestyle, and yet another Bronx Democrat, Councilman Larry Seabrook, was convicted of stealing taxpayer money he sought for nonprofits he controlled. The money was used to hire his girlfriend and relatives and for living large himself.

    In 2010, Efrain Gonzales Jr., former Democratic state senator from the Bronx, was sentenced to prison for stealing more than $500,000 from publicly funded nonprofits.

    For too many city pols, this is a racket. They pad nonprofits' payrolls with family members, girlfriends and cronies who often lack skills for their jobs. Sometimes the members themselves get paid as consultants. They use the organizations' staff for campaign purposes and loot the funds to pay campaign expenses and enrich themselves.

    The tragedy is that often these members represent many low-income people who would benefit from nonprofits that truly serve them.

    Some of our officials regard politics as a business and help themselves to "profits." Letting politicians earmark funds enables those with larceny in their hearts to scam all of us.


    Read more: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120909/OPINION/309099997#ixzz265E3etMh



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  21. Crain's also published this 16-name list of NY legislators whose ties to nonprofits have landed them in hot water.


    CONVICTED:

    Gloria Davis
    Pedro Espada Jr.
    Efrain Gonzalez
    Miguel Martinez
    Brian McLaughlin
    Hiram Monserrate
    Larry Seabrook


    CHARGED:

    Shirley Huntley


    REPORTEDLY BEING
    INVESTGATED:

    Maria del Carmen Arroyo
    Vivian Cook
    Ruben Diaz Sr.
    Vito Lopez
    Greg Meeks
    Naomi Rivera
    Peter Rivera
    Malcolm Smith

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    1. The list in Crain's NY Business says that Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. is reportedly being investigated. But let's not forget about his son, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

      Both Daddy and Baby Diaz were mentioned 4 years ago in following Daily News article:


      New York Daily News, Thursday, June 5th 2008

      F.B.I. PROBING DIAZ DUO OVER MILLIONS

      By Robert Gearty, Daily News Staff Writer

      The FBI is investigating a taxpayer-funded home attendant program largely funded by a Bronx state senator and his assemblyman son, the Daily News has learned.
      Christian Community in Action is part of a sweeping federal probe of Sen. Ruben Diaz and Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr.
      Sen. Diaz founded the organization and is a former administrator. His wife, Leslie, is the group's director of field operations and had a $59,056 annual salary as of April 2007. Ruben Diaz Jr. worked there as a teen.
      Three members of Sen. Diaz's staff are members of the group's board of directors.
      Last year, the nonprofit received a grand jury subpoena from the public corruption unit of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, which was probing fraud and money laundering.
      A month later, the FBI served a subpoena on the Bronx office of the city Board of Elections and seized documents about the Diazes, a development first reported by The News.
      Sen. Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, admitted Christian Community in Action was subpoenaed but said it was "two years ago."
      "As far as I know, nothing happened," he said, refusing to answer questions and hanging up.
      His son is a candidate for Bronx borough president and part of a group of rebel lawmakers seeking to unseat Bronx Democratic Party leader Jose Rivera.
      Last year, Ruben Diaz Jr. spent $25,000 in campaign funds on Manhattan law firm Kobre & Kim, which often defends government targets in criminal cases.
      The assemblyman did not return calls for comment.
      The group's parent, Christian Community Benevolent Association, has received more than $1.5 million in pork barrel spending from the Diazes from 2003 to 2007. The association is not on a list of pork projects designated for funding this year.
      Christian Community in Action also has a $26 million contract with the city to provide home health care to 1,000 seniors.
      Last year, Christian Community in Action told the mayor's office it was being investigated.
      In a vendor questionnaire obtained by The News, the nonprofit said the investigation began in early 2007 and was "ongoing," but contended it did not know what probers were trying to find.
      Attached to the document was a copy of the subpoena issued by a grand jury in Manhattan Federal Court which demanded names, addresses, salaries and Social Security numbers of all current and former employes, consultants, board members, benefactors and contractors back to 1999. It also demanded all documents relating to the group's funding since 1999.
      A woman who answered Leslie Diaz's office phone said Diaz was on vacation. Her boss, program director Luis Alejandro, declined to comment.
      Three ministers on Christian Community in Action's board said they did not know about the FBI investigation.
      "It surprises me," said the Rev. Rafael Melendez, who is Sen. Diaz's 74-year-old half-brother. He said the board meets regularly every two months.
      Sen. Diaz is no stranger to scrutiny. In 2005, he repaid the state $5,000 because he'd used state and federal funds given to the nonprofit Soundview Community in Action to buy furniture for his district office and loudspeakers for his campaign.
      Workers at the nonprofit Soundview said former Gov. Eliot Spitzer ignored more serious allegations that Diaz forced them to give his wife and ex-wife no-show jobs.


      Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2008/06/05/2008-06-05_fbi_probing_diaz_duo_over_millions-2.html#ixzz10r1nksC2

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    2. Sounds like it's time to tighten the screws on the Father & Son Diaz!

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  22. Did this woman think nobody would notice?

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  23. So hoping that this woman gets time behind bars.

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  24. Who the hell are all of you to judge someone like The Honorable Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo?? She is guilty of nothing. It is the people of the 17th district will be her only judge and jury!!!

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    1. Does Anonymous @ September 11, 2012 5:19 PM feel the same way about Vivian Cook, Ruben Diaz Sr., Vito Lopez, Greg Meeks, Naomi Rivera, Peter Rivera and Malcolm Smith ???????

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  25. If any of you haven't read Clyde Haberman's piece on the dismal turnout expected for today's primaries, here it is:


    The New York Times
    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    A LOW TURNOUT IS EXPECTED, THOUGH VOTERS AREN'T TO BLAME

    By Clyde Haberman

    Let's have a show of hands: How many of you are aware that Thursday is yet another Primary Day in New York, the third this year?

    That's what we thought. We see only a few arms up.

    Now, how many of you plan to vote in these primaries, which are mainly for some state legislative offices and judgeships?

    Yeah, we figured that, too. You with raised arms are going to be a lonely bunch on Thursday.

    New Yorkers rarely need an excuse to skip going to the polls. If not voting were an Olympic sport, they'd be gold medal contenders. But the political powers (read: Albany) outdid themselves this year in making sure that the turnout will barely climb beyond single digits, if that.

    They scheduled a presidential primary for April, then Congressional primaries for June and finally state primaries for mid-September. It isn't just voter fatigue that was bound to set in. It's more like voter narcolepsy.

    Beyond three not being a charm, the politicians made matters worse by moving this latest round of balloting from its customary perch, Tuesday. Instead, it is being held on Thursday, a day when most New Yorkers are more focused on their weekend plans. Why did this happen? Because Tuesday happened to be, uh-oh, Sept. 11.

    As we have observed here more than a few times, the prevailing wisdom in Albany - unswerving - is that the one thing New Yorkers must not be allowed to do on the anniversary of 9/11 is engage in the most fundamental exercise of democracy. They must not vote, or perform any other democratic act (also known as politics). That'll show the terrorists.

    In near-unanimity, under the guidance of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, lawmakers voted to shift the legislative primaries to Thursday the 13th.

    It is worth noting that on Tuesday, after attending 9/11 remembrance ceremonies, Mr. Silver went on to preside over a luncheon to raise campaign cash for an Assembly colleague, Grace Meng, who is running for Congress from a district in Queens.

    There is nothing wrong with that — except for Albany’s own fixation on the sanctity of Sept. 11 and how it forbids normal democratic functions. Some might reasonably wonder why Mr. Silver believes it is O.K. for him to organize a political event on that day, but not for New Yorkers to vote.

    “There’s nothing inappropriate,” the speaker told The Daily News. “I think it’s about the future.”

    That’s what voting is, too. But why look for consistency?

    Setting aside 9/11 pieties, shifting an election to a date certain to yield a low turnout amounts to an incumbent-protection plan. Office holders and party organizations almost always have an advantage when it comes to getting their preferred voters to the polls. Low turnouts accentuate their positives . . .

    READ MORE:
    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/a-low-turnout-is-expected-though-voters-arent-to-blame/?ref=nyregion

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  26. Why wasn't today's Primary Election widely announced in the citywide news media? Isn't that part of the civic responsibility of the "Fourth Estate"?

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