Saturday, March 6, 2010

New York State of Mind

Holy cow! What a week it’s been for New York politicians! I’m just going to cut to the chase, but where do I begin?


Let’s start with the small stuff:


Local (sort of) – House Representative first- termer Eric Masso (D/NY ) represents a large district in southwestern New York. Do you remember the scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where the bank auditor wants to get the audit over with so he can “spend Christmas in Elmira with his family”? Well, that’s Congressional District 29 in New York for which Massa represented faithfully for 14 months. Well, the “faithfully” part is somewhat in question right now, but, as of Monday, Massa resigned his position. But I get ahead of myself.


On Wednesday, Massa announced that he would not seek re-election and retire at the end of his first term. He claimed that, on the advice of his doctors, he needed to concentrate on his health and his family. Massa is a ten year cancer survivor and he states that his last CT scan showed suspicious signs of a relapse. Fair enough. However, shortly after his announcement, allegations surfaced that he has been accused of sexual harassment by a male assistant and he was currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. So by Friday, Massa, still sticking to his original story, resigned effective Monday. This leaves Elmira without representation and Nancy Pelosi with one less “yea” vote for the healthcare legislation.

Oh wait, it gets better. I promise if you stick with me, I will tie all of this with a nice bow…

So continuing on…

State – Jeez, it was “Pile On David Patterson” Week. . Ever since he went against Obama’s wishes and appointed Kirsten Gillibrand that vacate senator slot, his political life has been in a slow death spiral. And this week it just about hit the concrete hard.
Well, first, Patterson came under fire a few weeks ago for awarding a very lucrative slot machine contract to Aqueduct Entertainment Group even though they did not have the best or lowest bid. Well, it turns out AEG is a consortium of some of Patterson’s Harlem cronies - State Senate President Malcolm Smith, State Rep. Gregory Meeks, former Congressional Rep. Rev. Floyd Flake, and an actual convicted State funds embezzler named Darryl Greene . [Remember some of these names as they come up later on.] Wow, anyone with half a brain could see that he awarded his friends and colleagues a very lucrative deal. An investigation ensued.

Then, after grandly announcing that he would seek the Governor’s office for real (and against Obama’s wishes), it came to light that Patterson had used his office sometime last year to coerce some poor woman into dropping domestic violence charges against his assistant David W. Johnson, with the help of the State Police. Another investigation ensued.

And as if that wasn’t enough, this week Patterson stands accused of wheedling four World Series tickets out of some poor schmuck and not paying for them until after the fact, an ethics violation that comes with possible criminal charges. This was the finally turn in the death spiral. Now all of the major New York papers and politicians are calling for his resignation. To Patterson’s credit (I guess) he has not resigned. But hey, the week’s not over yet.

Oh, one interesting coincidence. The person who is charge of these investigations against Patterson is the only person who would have been running against him in the Democratic Primary – Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Okay, moving on…

National - Yes, folks, Congressman Charles Rangel reluctantly relinquished (say that 10 times fast) his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee this week. He’s saying it’s just temporary. The selfless Rangel is only doing this so his name can be cleared and so as not to be a distraction in the upcoming elections. It is understood by pretty much anyone breathing that the decision last week by the House Ethics Committee is only the tip of the iceberg for the titanic Rangel. The violations of accepting gifts from corporate sponsors is minor compared to the use of public office for political fund raising, unreported bank accounts, tax evasion, and the gifts of four rent stabilized apartments in violation the NYC housing laws. It is possible that Rangel has been exposed to a condition common amongst Congresspersons that will cause him to not seek another term and want to concentrate on his family and health.

Oh, did I ever mention that Gov. and Mrs. David Patterson have an apartment in that same fancy Harlem high rise along with many other Harlem political notable? Hmm, small world.

And now for the big finish...

So on Thursday, Rev. Al Sharpton [Did you actually think his name wouldn’t come up?] held an emergency meeting of New York’s most influential black leaders and by now some of the names should be pretty familiar: Rev. Al, Rep. Rangel, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, state Rep. David Meeks , state Sen. Malcolm Smith and others. They came together behind closed doors to decide how to handle the Patterson crisis and more than likely to decide when Rangel will announce his new medical condition. No one was talking after the meeting and even Rev. Al was uncharacteristically silent. Patterson has not resigned yet and one can only assume they will support him to the bitter end. However, since the state Democrats will never allow the lame duck Patterson to choose a replacement for Eric Massa, I expect Patterson will be resigning some time before the House votes on the pending healthcare legislation.

See, I told you I would put a bow on it.


9 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Nicely done! Funny how all the names come together. And thanks for the updates on all these NY stories. I see a lot of them, but haven't followed them closely enough to know exactly what was going on. Now I know. :-)

P.S. The political cartoon is priceless!

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: Another week, and New York continues to make California look semi-sane. You're winning the corruption battle, and we haven't gotten up to the starting line.

I thought Patterson would hang on to the bitter end even though his chances of election were so bad that even he wouldn't have tried. It didn't occur to me until you pointed it out that the Democrats have a vested interest in getting him out, quick, before he can appoint a successor to Massa. Very interesting. So who steps in to replace Patterson? I know California's rules of succession, but I don't know New York's.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think Spitzer comes back if Patterson quits. . . ;-)

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: That's just crazy enough to be true. LOL

patti said...

this entry totally deserves a jazz hand finish!

allow me:

~JAZZ HANDS~

BevfromNYC said...

Patti: I LOVE THE JAZZ HANDS!!!

BevfromNYC said...

At this point having Spitzer back is the sane option. This was a particularly crazy week in NY. The next in line is the Lt. Gov. His name is Richard Ravitch But, unlike Patterson who was actually elected to be Lt. Gov, Ravitch hasn't been elected to anything.

StanH said...

Always funny Bev! The photo at the end a gaggle of worthless political hacks, and lucky you they reside in the Big Apple.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rangel reluctantly relinquished rolls of the tongue like "Ruffles have Ridges." Good old Elmira. As an undergraduate at Susquehanna University, we would do road trips across the border to Elmira since the drinking age there was 18. As a native New Yorker, though, I am truly glad the Dems are having such a hard week in the Empire state.

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