Mar 13 2014

Queens Leaders Ready Serve In New Roles


Peter Vallone Jr.

A good day for Queens.

Former City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. and labor leader Rebecca Lynch were selected to once again serve in the halls of government.

Vallone, who was term-limited this year in the Astoria based Council district, will serve in the Cuomo administration as a special assistant to the state’s corrections commissioner, and Rebecca Lynch of Glen Oaks will serve in Mayor de Blasio’s Community Affairs Unit.

Lynch, a former District Leader in northeast Queens, gave up the post this week as her role in the de Blasio administration becomes more clear in time, according to the Politicker.

Role reversal?


Rebecca Lynch

Both Lynch and Vallone have a long history of community service. Ironically, the former City Councilman will now work with Albany, and the former state party District Leader will now serve inside City Hall.

Congratulations to both and best of luck.


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Mar 13 2014

Ben Max debuts on Gotham Gazette with exclusive Anthony Weiner interview

ben max

Blogs open up endless possibilities.

Moving on up.

Ben Max, a pioneer of digital politics and founder of Decide NYC, was recently hired as Executive Editor at the Gotham Gazette. And his first story? None other than an exclusive interview with former Queens Pol, Anthony Weiner.

Find out what Anthony has been up to since his resignation and a little more in-depth detail about his policy positions including: Sandy Recovery, The Teachers Contract, Seniors, development, and more.

[From The Gotham GazetteA Gotham Gazette exclusive with the mercurial former congressman, two-time mayoral candidate, political commentator, and New York idea guy

 Part One of a two-part series: Policy

 Anthony Weiner is a political columnist and commentator, a consultant and a family man. He is not, strangely, holding or running for elected office.

Having spent the vast majority of the past 23 years either in or seeking an elected position, Weiner, a former New York City Council Member (1992-1998) and congressman (1999-2011), finds himself on the fringe of the political discourse after coming up short in his second bid to become the mayor of his hometown.

The much-detailed scandal that ended Weiner’s congressional career and derailed his 2013 mayoral bid seems to have contributed to a bull market for his thoughts on politics and policy. Weiner continues to be invited to cable news talk shows, has started writing a regular column in the Daily News, and after sitting down with me on Tuesday, dashed off to the NY1 studios to tape a “Wiseguys” segment for the “Inside City Hall” program.

His name continues to be an attention-grabber and his face, a head-turner – as I witnessed when he walked into the Manhattan coffee shop where we met. Dressed casually, Weiner bounded into the cafe, gave me an unhurried hello and firm handshake, and darted to grab a beverage before sitting down to chat. While he waited to order, several patrons recognized him; two women in line exchanged smirks and whispers.

Whatever you might think of Weiner, and opinions vary widely, there is no denying that he is interesting and engaging, and thus unlikely to drop out of the public eye any time soon. Not to mention that even if it is only by sheer will, the Brooklyn born Weiner is all but sure to remain part of the political conversation, despite his being a self-described “imperfect messenger.”

Check out the full article:


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Photo of the day: John Lindsay pelted with snowballs in Kew Gardens


In 1969, while touring the streets of Kew Gardens, Mayor John Lindsay was heckled and pelted with snowballs by irate citizens for his poor handling of a surprise winter storm which dumped 20 inches of snow in Queens. The storm was so bad mail service disappeared and Queens was cut off from the other boroughs. – AP


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Mar 13 2014

Brooklyn Watch Out: shady developer with mob ties targets Eric Adams


The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Jody Kriss wants to build in your neighborhood, except one thing: Jody Kriss might hire the Russian mob to do his grunt work.

Known as Vor-Ton (meaning “thief of tons in Russian”), Jody Kriss of East River Partners has a black-seeded history that becomes ever more clear with a simple google search; but now he may be onto bigger projects like wooing newly minted Brooklyn BP Eric Adams for a giant land deal with a lollipop and a smile. ..

It’s not the wheeling and dealing typical of the real estate industry that require attention, in this case, rather, it’s the developer’s shady past and known criminal associates which warrant a further investigation.

So who is the real Jody Kriss? Kriss, former CFO of The Bayrock Group, is a professional plaintiff who has spent the better part of three years on a frivolous and harassing extortion campaign, filing scores of meritless lawsuits – including lawsuits against Donald Trump. Kriss is a very litigious person, very litigious; so much so that he even sued a former federal prosecutor who had protecting cooperating witnesses whose testimony would likely have been damaging to Mr. Kriss.

But that’s not all. Kriss illegally exposed privileged and government-sealed information in an effort to extort funds through his numerous lawsuits – information that involved organized crime associates and could lead to physical harm of Kriss’ former partners at Bayrock Group some have speculated.

  • In a 2009 civil complaint, Jody Kriss, who served for five years as the finance director at Bayrock, alleged that the firm was a “racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization” that… “operated through a pattern of criminal activity.” In addition to charging them with embezzlement and various forms of fraud, Kriss alleged they had engaged in “extortion by means of threats of torture and death.” The complaint also claims that Bayrock steered a $1.5 million placement fee in 2007 to a convicted partner Lauria for a financing deal involving Bayrock’s projects with Trump in Soho, Fort Lauderdale, and Phoenix. In a separate lawsuit against a former tech executive, Bayrock lawyers contend that the techie downloaded thousands of documents in the company’s system and gave some to Kriss, including emails “related to a sealed criminal matter” that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are pursuing. The judge who sealed many papers in the ongoing Kriss civil suit, making reference to a criminal probe related to Bayrock, also sealed the ongoing criminal case of Sal Lauria, who has a cooperation agreement with the government. These orders make it impossible to determine what the criminal matter, or even some of the civil court issues (including Bayrock’s defense), might be. -

There’s a simple ethical question at the heart of this collaboration: How can local community boards and BP Eric Adams deal with an investment group that has really no track record only that of a partner who was a front for the Russian mob and acted as a beard for known criminals?

People in NYC and in particular, Brooklyn, should be cautious in dealing with Jody Kriss whose funding is suspect and whose past is both litigious and mob connected.

eric adams

Is Eric Adams in physical danger?


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Mar 13 2014

Brown Appoints New Queens ADA’s

DA Brown

Meet the new recruits.

Queens D.A Richard Brown swore in nine new assistant district attorneys this week.

These new warriors of criminal justice are young and motivated to enter a career in public service and each bring experience from nine different law schools.

In the next few months they will each be immersed in a variety of on-hands training and prosecutorial procedure including shadowing police officers, ballistics training, and visiting correctional institutions.

This is the new wave of men and women that will teach NY that crime doesn’t pay. Congrats to the new prosecutors.


  1. George T. Del Fierro Jr., Pace University School of Law
  2. Genevieve N. Gadaleta, Touro College: Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center
  3. Angela Harper, Duke University School of Law
  4. John L. Mason, Pace University School of Law
  5. Melissa D. Medilien, Fordham University School of Law
  6. Paige L. Nyer, City University of New York School of Law
  7. Kathryn A.A. O’Neill, Boston University School of Law
  8. Anish M. Patel, Brooklyn Law School
  9. Diana M. Schioppi, St. John’s University School of Law


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Mar 12 2014

Liu sues Campaign Finance Board over matching funds


He’s fighting back.

In a federal lawsuit, former Comptroller John Liu says he “suffered extreme mental and emotional anguish, along with dignity harms, resulting from being unfairly and unwarrantedly accused of wrongdoing.”

The lawsuit also alleges that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg improperly appointed Rose Gill Hearn as the board’s new chairwoman.

Stay tuned for more details.

[From The WSJ] John Liu, a former New York City comptroller who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, accused the city Campaign Finance Board in a federal lawsuit of unlawfully denying his campaign millions of dollars in public matching funds.

According to the lawsuit, which Mr. Liu announced at a news conference on Wednesday, the board delivered his campaign a “death sentence” when it decided in August not to give him any matching funds. The lawsuit alleges the board based its decision on a “shoddy investigation” and that its treatment of Mr. Liu was “wholly arbitrary and without rational basis.”

The lawsuit alleges Mr. Liu “suffered extreme mental and emotional anguish, along with dignity harms, resulting from being unfairly and unwarrantedly accused of wrongdoing.”

“The board’s decision led to incalculable damage to Liu’s professional reputation and earning potential,” the suit alleges.

In May, a federal jury convicted Mr. Liu’s former campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou of various charges involving campaign finance fraud. She was later sentenced to 10 months in prison and is in the process of appealing her conviction. Mr. Liu was never charged in the case.

Amy Loprest, the board’s executive director, responded to the lawsuit in an email: “Over 25 years and seven mayoral elections, the board’s oversight has always been tough, but fair. It protects taxpayers, and ensures campaigns that receive funds are playing by the rules.”

Under the city’s public-funding system, candidates may receive $6 in taxpayer funds for each of the first $175 donated by a city resident, for a maximum of $1,050 in public funds per contributor. Mr. Liu could have received a maximum of $3.53 million in the Democratic primary.

In the September primary, Mr. Liu won 7% of the vote, coming in fourth place among the five major candidates.

Mr. Liu’s lawsuit also alleges that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his final days at City Hall last year, improperly appointed Rose Gill Hearn as the board’s new chairwoman. According to the City Charter, the mayor has the authority to appoint the board’s leader following consultation with the speaker of the City Council.

For full article:



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Photo of the day: Fiorello La Guardia in Queens

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 3.39.54 PM

Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, “The Little Flower,” pinning a medal on Patrolman John Albert, Queens, NY, 1939 – LGC

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Mar 12 2014

Already considering the next mayor?

voteCampaign season never ends.

An article from The Staten Island Advance is already speculating which democratic primary challengers may rise to the occasion and run for Mayor in 2021, thus proving it’s never too early to think ahead.

Among those suggested: Melinda Katz, Eric Adams, and a few more…

[From] STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Democrat Bill de Blasio has been mayor for just over two months.

But that hasn’t stopped speculation about who could run for City Hall in 2021, when de Blasio would be term-limited out of office.

Further proof that campaign season never really ends and that it’s never too early to start prognosticating about any future election.

The 2021 caravan made a bit of a stop on Staten Island last week, when some of the potential mayoral candidates marched in the borough’s St. Patrick’s Parade, and made the requisite stop at the pre-parade festivities at Jody’s Club Forest in West Brighton.

The three maybe contenders in attendance were Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., all Democrats.

Other Democrats are also being mentioned, including Borough Presidents Eric Adams of Brooklyn and Melinda Katz of Queens.

GOP Borough President James Oddo said that he can see any one of them being among those chasing City Hall in eight years. Friendly rivalries have already popped up among them, including between Diaz and Adams.

Diaz got this greeting from Oddo outside of Jody’s: “Get used to coming out here.”

Oddo told us that Diaz “has all the ingredients” to be a top-flight candidate, including his Hispanic background and the “Bronx renaissance” story that he can put before voters.

And being from an outer borough won’t hurt, Oddo said.

“I’m impressed,” Oddo said. “He will have a distinguished resume. He has all the makings of a strong mayoral candidate.”

Right back at you, said Diaz.

“Borough President Oddo is a great guy and an outstanding advocate for Staten Island, and we’re very excited to have him as a colleague and a partner,” said Diaz communications director John DeSio, a former Advance scribe. “We’re going to do some great things together with Borough President Oddo and his office.”

Ordinarily, the City Council Speaker would be included among the contenders, but Democrat Melissa Mark-Viverito is term-limited out of office in four years, putting her in an unusual spot.

“She would have to land someplace else in order to stay viable,” said Oddo, a former councilman. “She’s a talented lady.”

But, as Oddo points out, it’s not like the Speaker’s chair has been a great launching pad to the mayoralty.

The three most recent Speakers who tried, Christine Quinn, Gifford Miller and Peter Vallone, not only didn’t become mayor, none of them even won the Democratic nomination.

“It’s nearly impossible to win from that spot,” said Oddo. “You make enemies with every decision you make.”

For full article:


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Mar 12 2014

Judge Denies Request From Embattled Pols


Truth and justice cannot await.

Save the date.

A request to postpone the corruption trial of embattled former City Councilman Dan Halloran, GOP Vice Chairman Vince Tabone,  and state Sen. Malcolm Smith was denied last week and will proceed as set on June 2nd.

[From The Queens Gazette] A federal court judge has refused to delay the June 2 corruption trial of embattled state Sen. Malcom Smith, former City Councilmember Dan Halloran and Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vince Tabone. 

Attorneys for the three disgraced politicos last month requested that the trial be delayed to the end of the year, so it would not interfere with the 2013 primary elections. But Judge Kenneth Karas, who is overseeing the trial in White Plains, issued a finding on February 28 in which he denied the request for postponement.

Smith was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2013, for allegedly plotting to bribe Republican Party officials for a spot on the party’s 2013 primary ballot. The indictment also charged Halloran, Tabone and others in the scheme. Smith, 56, and Halloran, 42, face up to 45 years in prison if convicted. 
The indictment charges that Smith, a democrat, allegedly sought help from Halloran, a conservative Republican, to get his name on the Republican Party primary. As a Democrat, Smith, under current law, needed Republican Party support in at least three boroughs to run as a Republican candidate without changing his party affiliation, authorities said.

Prosecutors charge that Smith, in an attempt to gather that support, asked Halloran to schedule meetings with Republican Party leaders and negotiate thousands of dollars in bribes. Meanwhile, Halloran and Tabone pocketed thousands of dollars of the bribe money, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys for Smith and Halloran say their client’s actions are not considered bribery under New York state law and are asking the court to toss some of the charges.
Karas said Smith, Halloran and Tabone will go on trial on June 2, as originally planneed.


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Mar 11 2014

Avella Defends The IDC


Elections are coming up…

Pragmatism in politics or a betrayal of core values?

In a press release, Sen. Avella makes a bold statement of principle leaving us to wonder:

Does joining the IDC and cooperating with Senate Republicans make him (or any member of the IDC for that matter) any less of a Democrat? Sen. Avella doesn’t think so. See links below.


The Democrats in the Senate minority are no truer Democrats than those in the IDC. Just because the members of the IDC have determined that it is in the best interest of their constituents (and themselves) to share power with the Republicans, does not make them any less principled or worthy of carrying their party’s standard.

read more:

~Watch out if you try to be bipartisan in Albany. You’re hands-across-the-aisle approach to lawmaking is not welcome there, particularly in the Capitol.

read more:


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Mar 05 2014

Gentile Questions Dysfunctional BOE


Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) is the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations

It’s time to eliminate the patronage and dysfunction at the BOE says Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Clearing house and then rebuilding the foundation is going to take time and a lot more oversight. Luckily, the hearings are bringing it to light.

[From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle] The council’s committees on Oversight and Investigations and Governmental Operations jointly held the hearing to probe more deeply into a recently released report from the Department of Investigations (DOI) that detailed a shocking level of institutional dysfunction and patronage at the Board of Elections (BOE).

NY1 News reported that the DOI’s undercover probe found that the BOE is dysfunctional, is overrun by nepotism, and that there are dead people still listed on its rolls.

In its report, issued in December, the DOI issued more than 30 recommendations for the BOE to adopt.

“Our work here today was a positive step towards a better democratic process in New York City. This is one step in the effort to address concerns raised by the Department of Investigations report, which showed how far we need to go to support and oversee New York City’s elections,” Gentile said.

“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to increase efficiency, transparency and accountability at all levels,” Gentile added.

The BOE needs to move away from and “opaque hiring system of nepotism and patronage,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), chairman of the Committee on Governmental Operations.

For full article:


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Mar 05 2014

Avella Rewarded With Sweet Committee Assignments

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 5.08.43 AMThe upside of betrayal.

After Senator Martin Dilan called for Senator Tony Avella to be excommunicated from the Democratic Party, the lawmaker announced his committee assignments Wednesday, and now we all can see why Tony truly left the Democrats in the dust:

Avella is  now seated on the Banks, Codes, Education, Housing, Construction and Community Development, Insurance, Judiciary, and Transportation Committees.

A quid pro quo? A betrayal of values and campaign promises? Whatever you may call it, Tony Avella is smiling down from Albany.






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Mar 03 2014

Grace Meng ‘Disappointed’ With Tony Avella

Grace Meng, Queens Politics

What does it mean when the nicest person in politics is suddenly calling you out?

You’ve been a bad boy Tony.

At her campaign announcement, Grace Meng said how deeply disappointed she was with Avella’s switch to the IDC.

This means a little more than at first glance: Meng is an optimist known for her sincerity, warmth, and candor to everyone – even her political enemies – which comes in part from longstanding roots in her hometown district and an old school sense of respect. Grace gives a mother’s touch to everything, sort of like the district’s ever-watchful matriarch, always reluctant to scold you in public, so when she  spoke of her feelings during a press conference about Tony Avella and his IDC debacle (an old colleague mind you), we couldn’t help but feel like our mother just gave us that look of REAL disappointment.

John Liu wasn’t happy about Tony either, but it’s Grace’s comments we should be mindful of, no matter how delicate.

[From The Politicker] State Senator Tony Avella’s decision to join the Independent Democratic Conference is irking ex-Comptroller John Liu and Congresswoman Grace Meng.

Mr. Liu and Ms. Meng–who like Mr. Avella, are Democrats hailing from northeast Queens–criticized Mr. Avella when asked about about his recent move to join the breakaway conference Democrats governing the State Senate with the Republican Party.

“It’s disappointing to say the very least,” Ms. Meng told Politicker at an unrelated press conference. “I think the Democrats, especially the Democratic senators, have worked very hard on issues that not only affect Democrats throughout the state, but affect everyone, all working families. And so I was disappointed at the very least.”

Full article:


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Mar 03 2014

John Liu: Congress still an option


It ain’t over till it’s over.

John Liu, hometown hero, antes up and denies widespread rumors of a challenge to Congresswoman Grace Meng in NY6, even offering his endorsement to the beloved incumbent in his hometown.

Despite the endorsement, rumors are still floating about Liu gunning for Congresswoman Nydia Velazaquez’s seat, a fact he doesn’t deny, so it still seems a run for Congress (where you only have to be a resident of the state to run in a district) is still an option for Liu.

[From The PolitickerJohn Liu still won’t rule out another try for elected office. 

The ex-comptroller and mayoral candidate refused to swat down rumors that he is mulling a bid against Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, even as he put another batch of rumors to rest by endorsing his own congresswoman, Grace Meng, for re-election.

“Let met me just say that rumors are rumors and I’m not in the business of denying nor confirming rumors. So I’ll leave it at that,” Mr. Liu told reporters at the endorsement press conference today. “Obviously we have a capable incumbent in the 7th District [Ms. Velázquez's district] as we do in other districts that rumors have been floated about me.”

When Politicker asked if Mr. Liu would rule out a congressional bid of any kind–he was also rumored to be mulling a challenge against Ms. Meng before he endorsed her today–Mr. Liu played coy. 

For full article:


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Photo of the day: Congresswoman Grace Meng Prepares For Reelection Announcement

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