ON THE QT
Everything You Always Suspected--
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Plus Some Slips Twixt the Cup & the Lip.
Publisher and Editor
to On The QT #16. Election day has come and gone. The Day of
The Turkey looms. Stuff that bird, bake those pies and give
thanks for the things that really matter. But when carving
the gobbler don't forget the greedy. Be sure and lift a glass
to the many Northeast politicos now facing corruption charges.
Best to lump them together: a toast for each would send one
In the lovely Rhode Island city of Providence (named for a deity
other than Graft) Republican Mayor "Buddy" Cianci bravely slogs
on, dragging his 31 Operation Plunderdome corruption indictments
behind him. While in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts,
Democratic Mayor Michael Albano perceives himself a victim of
FBI persecution as a mob related gambling probe widens into
a public corruption investigation of city administered federal
loan programs. Like the business improvement grants with which
Albano buddies were blessed. One such lucky entrepreneur
is convicted felon Adolfo Bruno, named by the Feds as #2 man
in Springfield's Genovese pyramid. Amongst Bruno's business
improvement costs were two boxes of screws-- costing $160.
Mayor Albano incidentally, is chummy with Rhode Island's
"Buddy" Cianci and like Cianci, markets his very own
A product hopefully more wholesome than the hard drugs plaguing
Vermont. Many of which reportedly come across the state border
from Springfield. But back to the gobblers. In Waterbury,
Connecticut, Republican Mayor Phil Giordano, a recent candidate
for United States senator (defeated by Joe Lieberman) now sits
in a federal jail after being charged in September with raping
two African American girls aged 9 and 10. Who he bought from
their drug addict mother. Giordano, along with the Waterbury city
government, is also the subject of a massive Federal corruption
probe. When news of the rape investigation broke, Waterbury's
board of Aldermen refused to impeach Giordano. Some say they
feared Phil would spill. Giordano now collects half wages and
full benefits from jail. A second mayor does the governing.
The local NAACP is none too thrilled.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut (the state's largest city) Mayor
Joseph Ganim, a Democratic hopeful for governor, was indicted
in early November for federal bribery, extortion, mail fraud
and racketeering. "Investment quality wine" was one item Ganim
supposedly received in return for his favors. Such as the 1997
awarding of a $91 million dollar waste water treatment contract
to Worth Construction, whose president was being investigated
in New Jersey for alleged mob ties. Also under scrutiny is a plan
to extend the city's sewer lines to the nabe containing Mayor
Ganim's new home. ( Wine, be it investment quality or jug, makes
the kidneys work overtime.) Mayor Ganim says folks close to him
used their relationship for gain. Some of those folks, including
Worth Construction, made campaign contributions to Phil Giordano
over in Waterbury. Whatever. Ganim claims he hasn't taken
Oceans of dimes were showered on psychiatrist Oscar Sandoval,
a county vendor for Hudson County, New Jersey. Sandoval stands
revealed as the county vendor who helped snare Hudson County
Executive and Democratic National Committee member (now resigned)
Robert Janiszewski for the FBI. The shrink's company earned
$1.65 million from Hudson County annually, servicing two jails
and a psychiatric hospital. Last November, Sandoval reportedly
starred in a video shot in an Atlantic City hotel room. One
that also featured Janiszewski receiving a payoff from Sandoval.
Once the feds got "Bobby J." on tape, he in turn was wired.
For a little under a year Robert Janiszewski walked, talked
and taped in Hudson County while the Feds pulled the strings.
HOWDY DOODY TIME
Hudson County, directly across the river from Manhattan, has
been a bubbling cauldron of development since the 80's and
is oft referred to as the "Gold Coast" The FBI seems very
interested in federal grants and loans given developers. Such
as Section 108 loans from the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD). These are reduced rate loans intended
for economic development or redevelopment projects. Both housing
and commercial. Also of interest are projects funded by the U.S.
Department of Transportation. Particularly those involving
"ISTEA" grants. The acronym stands for the Intermodal Surface
Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and is pronounced like
the beverage. Congress dispenses ISTEA money and can designate
some specific uses. Development can require infrastructure
changes: ISTEA grants often figure into the mix.
THE BARRY BUNCH
One of the people Janiszewski taped was politically powerful
Gold Coast developer Joe Barry. A once upon a time Students for
a Democratic Society (SDS) member, Barry built a real estate
empire on subsidized, Section 8 housing in Hoboken; thereby
becoming Hoboken's largest landlord and housing provider to an
army of dependent voters. Barry also bought a chain of local
newspapers and turned them into a cookie cutter series of real
estate touts, stressing high rent realtor listings rather than
than those of small landlords. Eventually Barry built luxury
developments up and down an increasingly valuable coast, using
the kinds of tax breaks and HUD loans meant to revitalize
blighted urban areas. Robert Janiszewski had a condo in one
such development. Over the years, Barry and his family
were political donors to both parties. Including campaign
contributions to then Jersey City mayor, Republican Bret
Schundler. But the lion's share went to Democrats. Last March
alone, Barry donated $7000 dollars to Congressman Robert
Menendez, D-N.J. Last June, a Barry company bestowed $26,666 on
the National Democratic Party. Barry recently received a Section
108 loan for 6.7 million dollars. ISTEA has also flowed his way.
BOOK EM DANO!
Some say a pattern is emerging of Northeast cities being targeted
by the FBI. Yet another pattern is of a political class with an
ethos of bi-partisan grifting and translocal cronyism. The
post 9/11 rush to trust government should give one pause.
Those described above-- and there are other examples-- include
a significant number of political leaders functioning in the
same rough time frame. And they aren't clerks, but major
figures; mayors of cities important to their states, potential
governors and senators, movers and shakers on the national scene.
Certain themes crop up again and again. Drug trade and organized
crime. A handful of players. The ever popular favors for
fealty, plus massive misuse and theft of public funds intended
for urban revitalization.
COOKIE JAR BLUES
The post 9/11 economy means belt tightening. Hard hit urban
areas will be feeling the pinch. Residents of urban neighborhoods
will have to fight to maintain basic services. And for any
available dollars. The big bucks have already been taken...
From the big to the seemingly small: the story of stray cat
Midnight's kittens, born in Sing Sing prison and cared for by
an inmate serving time for armed robbery. One day last Spring,
state correction officer Ronald Hunlock found the kittens (and
Midnight) in a cardboard box in inmate John William's cell.
Many stray cats make Sing Sing home but pets are not allowed.
Hunlock could have put the box outdoors. Unkind, but not
inhuman. Instead he ordered Williams to put Midnight and her
kittens into the trash compactor. Williams refused. So Hunlock
did it. But the sound of the compactor scared Midnight: she
broke out of the box and ran away. The kittens were too small
to follow. Hunlock crushed them. "You could hear them squeaking
and little meows" Though angry and upset, Williams might not
have reported the incident. Given his situation. But a witness
was at a window above the courtyard where the trash compactor
stood. Hunlock is now on trial in White Plains on charges of
aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony punishable by two years
in state prison. Midnight is being cared for by the American
Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She was
brought into court and Williams identified her by her split ear.
"THOU ART THE MAN!"
One can imagine Midnight pointing her paw. Hunlock would break
down (ala Perry Mason by way of Dostoesky) and sob his remorse.
Fat chance. His defense attorney claims Hunlock feared the
kittens were diseased and in order to protect the general cat
population dumped them in the trash compactor. Ronald Hunlock
killed 5 kittens. But his actions reflect more than a
TOUCH OF EVIL.
Like his attempt to force a person over whom he had power to
destroy something they loved. And John Wiliams? Armed robberies
are cruel. But in this instance, his choice to refuse Hunlock's
command reflects something very different.
IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS,
an animal rights group is asking people to contact Judge
Peter M. Leavett by mail or fax, and ask him to impose the
maximum sentence on Ronald Hunlock. Please keep messages
brief and courteous.
The Honorable Peter M. Leavett
Westchester County Courthouse
111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
White Plains, NY 10601
fax: (914) 995-4518
will skip an issue, appearing on December 16th. Surprises are in
store. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Give thanks not everyone in
this world is Ronald Hunlock, or Phil Giordano, or...
CLICK HERE TO REVIEW SOURCES FOR ON THE QT #16
"Pope John Paul, who writes most of his speeches by hand and
does not own a computer, will dedicate his message for World
Communications Day to the Internet..."
ZDNet, Pope To Give Net his blessing
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