Mo' Money Mo' Problems
“That’s politics in New York,” the New York Post‘s cover blared in stark black-and-white ink this morning. “It’s all about the f–king money.”
The quote, allegedly made from Councilman Dan Halloran to a cooperating witness, was revealed yesterday as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed charges not only against Mr. Halloran, but State Sen. Malcolm Smith and a small slew of other political figures in what Mr. Bharara called “a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”
Specifically, Mr. Halloran is accused of “essentially quarterbacking” a scheme to secure Republican establishment support for Mr. Smith’s mayoral bid. Mr. Smith, a Democrat, would need the blessing of three of the five county Republican organizations to run on the GOP line, and he allegedly arranged for cash bribes in his attempt to do so. But, looking more broadly, the strange scandal also shines light on these county organizations and their few remaining powers in city politics.
In the wake of bribery charges being brought against the Queens Republican Party’s executive vice president, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich is calling for former Congressman Bob Turner to the lead the party.
“I want to see Bob Turner as the next chairman and I want [Queens GOP Chair] Phil Ragusa to resign immediately,” Mr. Ulrich told Politicker. “I believe Ragusa has an obligation to step aside. The only person who can bring peace and bring people together is Bob Turner because of his integrity, character and ability to work with people on different sides. He’s very conciliatory.”
City Council Republicans and mayoral candidate Joe Lhota were mostly in sync with Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, denouncing a bill that would create an inspector general’s office for the NYPD.
“There’s no reason to have an inspector general office for the NYPD,” Mr. Lhota said at City Hall this morning. “It already has oversight by the five district attorneys, by the two U.S. attorneys, by various other organizations. Its just another level of bureaucracy that is being put upon the City of New York and it’s absolutely unnecessary.”
Church & State
This morning, Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich took to his Facebook page to post a scathing review of Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in The House of God, an HBO documentary on the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. Mr. Ulrich had several issues with the film, which he characterized as “an exploitive and biased account of a dark chapter in the history of the Catholic Church.”
“As a proud Roman Catholic, I am truly offended by the blatant bigotry contained in HBO’s so-called documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in The House of God,” Mr. Ulrich wrote. “It accuses His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI of being complicit in covering up sex abuses cases involving Catholic priests and unfairly criticizes the late Pope John Paul II. Above all, its chock full of anti-catholic rhetoric and demonizes members of the clergy (most of whom are dedicated, compassionate and pious men).”
Earlier this afternoon, “a group of irate Orthodox community leaders” held a conference call to protest poll site changes implemented in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens. In the call, local Jewish leaders alleged their new voting location was designed to dampen turnout in their ideologically conservative community as it struggles to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
“We’re a group of people who really, really suffered tremendously,” Richard Altabe, a board member of the Far Rockaway Jewish Alliance, said. “Or voting rights are about to be taken away from us. It’s going to be difficult enough to get people to vote….Our ability to speak and have our voices heard is going to be squashed by circumstances. I’m really, really horrified.”
That was the title of a press release from Councilman Eric Ulrich, currently campaigning for the State Senate in a district devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has had an infamously frosty relationship with the New York State Senate Democratic Caucus, but things may be starting to turn around a tad.
Almost exactly a month ago, Mr. Cuomo issued a small string of endorsements to three incumbent Senate Democrats, but all of them were in heavily Democratic districts where the outcomes would not affect the overall partisan makeup of the legislative body. This morning, however, Mr. Cuomo went in a different direction and endorsed an endangered incumbent, Senator Joe Addabbo, before a crowd of Columbus Day parade-goers on 5th Avenue.
In the final days of his unsuccessful primary campaign, GOP State Senate candidate Juan Reyes sent out campaign literature accusing his rival, Councilman Eric Ulrich, of being hypocritical on the topic of gay marriage. Many Republicans felt that the mailer in question, which criticized Mr. Ulrich hiring gay staff members and eating dinner with a gay colleague crossed the line. Even former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in whose administration Mr. Reyes once worked, lumbered out to hold a press conference condemning the literature on the Steps of City Hall.
Following his loss in last Thursday’s election, Mr. Reyes apparently regrets sending the mailing. In a third-person statement posted on his campaign website over the weekend, he claimed to have not personally reviewed it and profusely apologized to anyone who might have been offended:
rudy to the rescue
Later this afternoon, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be holding a press conference on the steps of City Hall to specifically condemn a controversial campaign advertisement sent out in the Republican primary for a Queens State Senate seat.
The mailer, produced by attorney Juan Reyes’s campaign, accused his GOP rival, Councilman Eric Ulrich, of being hypocritical on gay marriage because, among other things, he has dinner with an openly gay colleague on the City Council and has hired gay staffers in his government office. New York State, of course, has a statute that would forbid this type of discrimination in hiring.
Can you tell it’s only a few days until Election Day? Republican State Senate candidate Juan Reyes has officially taken off the gloves when it comes to dealing with his GOP rival, Councilman Eric Ulrich.
Upset that the state GOP leadership is fully backing Mr. Ulrich to take on Democratic Senator Joe Addabbo, Mr. Reyes has sent out a mailer in the eastern Queens district declaring, “COMRADES! THE GLORIOUS PARTY LEADERSHIP HAS ALREADY CHOSEN COMRADE ULRICH AS YOUR NEW SENATOR. DO AS YOU ARE TOLD AND OBEY THEM.”