A Political Junkie’s Holiday Gift List
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
It’s that time of year and we sent our reporters scurrying to find the gifts that top the lists for our elected officials and politically involved leaders. After one diminutive journalist played undercover elf at Santa’s workshop and another used satellite surveillance on Hanukkah Harry’s home, we checked the gossip blogs and compiled the following proposed holiday gift list.
Political Holiday Gift List
Councilman Mark Weprin: A gavel useable Jan 2014.
President Barack Obama: A Newt Gingrich 2012 Republican nomination.
Councilman Dan Halloran: Valium and favorable redistricting of Tony Avella’s Senate seat.
Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz: A quick Albany exit to Jim Gennaro’s Council seat in 2014.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman: Opportunity.
State Senator Mike Gianaris: A NY Senate Democratic Majority which doesn’t eat its young.
Comptroller John Liu: A miracle.
Queens Democratic Organization: Younger leaders.
State Senator Malcolm Smith: A teflon jacket.
State Senator Shirley Huntley: Dots that don’t connect.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr: Democratic Organizational Love.
US Senator Kirstin Gillibrand: Continued success.
US Senator Chuck Schumer: A successful ’12 Election for the Senate Dems.
Congressman Greg Meeks: See Liu, Smith and Huntley.
Presidential Wannabe Mitt Romney: An Olympics to run.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg: A recount... on the Census.
State Senator Tony Avella: Dale Carnegie Courses.
Borough President Helen Marshall: She’s never been in the State Senate – kidding.
Councilman Peter Koo: A cross endorsement.
Assemblywoman Vivian Cook: Good health.
NY Civic Founder Henry Stern: Good government.
Former Congressman Anthony Weiner: A digital “recall and do over” switch and a happy family.
Mayoral candidate Tom Allon: His wildest dreams.
Councilman Leroy Comrie: A professional fundraiser who is professional.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: A veto of any redistricting plan not done by an independent commission.
Former Comptroller, Mayoral Wannabe Bill Thompson: No surprises.
Congressman Bob Turner: David Weprin, again.
Assemblywoman Grace Meng: Discovering meaning in the Albany process.
Councilman Eric Ulrich: An excuse not to run for the Senate and avoid Albany.
Assemblywoman Michele Titus: Who?
Councilwoman Liz Crowley: An election year without a race.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz: A lesson in relaxation.
Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio: A shot.
District Attorney Richard Brown: Whatever he wants.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder: A guide to progressive New York.
Reverend Floyd Flake: Peace.
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein: A bride.
Assemblyman Bill Scarborough: Opportunity due to a leadership vacuum.
Assemblyman David Weprin: A make-over.
Former Mayor Ed Koch: A bottomless box of popcorn.
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi: See Floyd Flake.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn: See John Liu.
Assemblyman Mike DenDekker: A good acting gig.
Assemblyman Jeff Aubry: Good health and an easy basketball game.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas: Perhaps an opportunity closer to home. Council in 2013?
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan: Excitement.
Assemblywoman Barbara Clark: Dots that don’t connect to State Senator Shirley Huntley’s dots.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya: A good time in the Assembly, if it’s possible.
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli: See Leroy Comrie.
AG Eric Schneiderman: Elected Officials with phone conversations which are fun to listen to.
Councilman James Sanders: May the misfortune of others open doors for him.
State Senator Jose Peralta: See AG Eric Schneiderman above.
State Senator Joe Addabbo: A safer district.
GOP Queens Chair Phil Ragusa: See Floyd Flake.
State Senator Toby Stavisky: A Co-Democratic District Leader who spends more time in the District.
Congressman Joe Crowley: As much influence with the Dems in Congress as he has in Queens.
Congressman Gary Ackerman: Any map he wants.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney: A fun celebration as she bids goodbye to Queens.
The People of Queens: A fair, non-partisan, independent redistricting, fewer scandals involving elected officials, a government that works and serves them, and an improved economy.
And to all our friends and readers: May the New Year bring only good news to you and yours.
Seabrook, Boyland Escape Conviction On Fraud Charges
By HENRY STERN
Reading the newspapers in recent weeks has become an exercise in exploring one scandal after another. In our field, watching the performance of public agencies and elected officials, we have been following the case of City Councilman Larry Seabrook, a city or state legislator for 27 years, and William Boyland, a Brooklyn Assemblyman and member of a political dynasty.
Seabrook is also an entrepreneur in providing a variety of social services to the public, for which he and the organizations he controls are handsomely rewarded by the government. For example, he collects rent for office space, said to be exorbitant in a 2010 Federal indictment, from nonprofits for which he helps to secure public funding. At the same time, some of those same taxpayer-funded nonprofits employ senior people who happen to be relatives of the Councilman.
Seabrook, derided by critics as “Cash and Carry” Larry, has had a lengthy career as a public official. He was first elected to the state assembly in 1984 and was re-elected five times from his district in the north Bronx. He moved up to the state senate in 1996 and was re-elected there in 1998. In 2000 he challenged Congressman Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary, but was defeated. A year later, Seabrook was elected to the City Council and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009. He is now serving his third term, and is ineligible for re-election.
One of the community organizations in Seabrook’s orbit is the Northeast Bronx Redevelopment Corporation. The Federal indictment against Seabrook accused the organization of radical underper-formance on the education and training programs it received federal funds to operate. Seabrook denies all the allegations, and argues that they were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt at the trial, at which the jury failed to reach agreement and was dismissed.
Tuesday night, reporter Errol Louis interviewed Seabrook and his attorney, Edward Wilford, on NY1’s Inside City Hall. It deals largely with Seabrook’s claims that jobs were created under the government-supported programs and Louis’ unsuccessful efforts to get the Councilmember or his attorney to substantiate those claims. The United States Attorney for the Southern District intends to retry the case. We believe an important aspect of the proceedings will be the selection of the jury.
An issue emerging from the Seabrook hung jury and the case of Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr., who was acquitted of corruption charges on Nov. 10, is whether jury nullification is an element in the verdicts. Jury nullification occurs when the jurors may believe a defendant most likely committed the crime for which he is accused, but other reasons lead them to believe that conviction would be unjust.
The most prominent case of jury nullification in the recent history of the United States is O.J. Simpson’s acquittal of the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The trial was closely watched by millions of people around the world and reported upon extensively in the media because of the prominence of the defendant and the cruelty of the double murder.
One theory of the jury’s rationalization in Simpson’s acquittal is that for many years in the United States, particularly in the South, it was considered impossible for an African-American to get a fair trial, and, over the years, hundreds were lynched by mobs unsatisfied by trial verdicts or unwilling to wait for them. As a result, the jury may have been inclined to acquit Simpson to make up for past injustices committed against African-Americans.
The recent cases of elected officials escaping justice give reason for anxiety. If juries fail to convict when evidence is presented of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, society will be harmed. More wrongdoers will come to believe that they will escape punishment because juries will sympathize with their ethnicity, or disbelieve any witnesses representing the state. It’s better for juries to decide on the basis of the evidence submitted than on the identity of the defendant or prosecutor. To rely on any other basis than the merits of a case is a miscarriage of justice, no matter which side benefits.