Tag Archive: Mike Miller

Feb 17 2013

Caravan of Corruption: Ulrich, Quinn, Miller left whistleblower to rot

It could happen to you.

SYSTEMIC FAILURE IN SOUTHEASTERN QUEENS FOR ITS CONSTITUENCY

By RICHARD C. IRITANO

 

Dear QUEENS-POLITICS Editor:

 

My name is RICHARD C. IRITANO, and I live in Ozone Park, QUEENS, New York.  For more than three years (and far longer with previous administrations), I have been unable to demand justice from my city councilman, Eric Ulrich, or state assemblyman, Michael Miller.  I have presented documented evidence to both politicians, of whom I am a constituent, regarding cover up, corruption and sabotage, where an investigation had commenced with the New York City Department of Investigations in May, 1993 that was never completed—and mysteriously and abruptly aborted without notification.  That public watchdog probe was supposed to address how the New York City Transit Authority made knowingly false, fake and inflammatory information about myself, when they chose to state in writing to the Department of Labor that I had falsified records, documents and company sign sheets.  Transit Authority management wrote to the DOL in an effort to block my entitlement to collect unemployment insurance benefits, where only days earlier, on April 18, 2013, I was told that my provisional services were no longer required—only three months after I received my fourth promotion in five years.  I was never told in person that I falsified any records, and worse, the woman who hired me in the last promotion that I was supposed to receive (but never did), had no authority to hire me, and insisted that I sign in at 8:00 a.m. daily, then disappear for the day until 4:00  p.m. when my day ended, so that management would not detect that I could be questioned if they should pay a visit to her office.  I was forced to comply but had written a daily diary about this betrayal of trust that she entangled me into.  (She retired honorably—I, the “whistleblower” was left to rot in obscurity.

The Transit Authority never showed up in court after their multiple allegations that I falsified records, and I therefore won my unemployment benefits retroactively.  Before I ever stepped foot into an unemployment office, I immediately complained to the MTA Office of the Inspector General (State of New York), and their General Counsel, Michael Boxer.  Mr. Boxer ignored the corruption and cover up, contradicted firmly established evidence and failed to investigate for three solid years from April, 1989 when I requested an immediate investigation.  The MTA only took action after I was forced to sue under an Article 78 Proceeding to seek, reinstatement, back pay and attorney fees, whereupon the Transit Authority admitted in court that they were not aware of my falsifying any and all documents.   For three solid years, this city agency (and inspector general’s office that is governed by New York State), continue to conceal evidence that could have restored my job, career, pension and retirement benefits, but chose to look the other way, while I had to spend tens of thousands of dollars defending myself in court for charges that never existed, and that were exposed to the MTA Inspector General after an oral argument hearing on May 9, 1991 revealed the deception and cover up.  The Appellate Court Chief Justice Rosenbaum called the actions of the Transit Authority and MTA unconsciounable, and prepared a ‘bench order’ for the Transit Authority to immediately expunge my department and central personnel files from any false and inflammatory information that suggested there was any misconduct committed by me.  The Transit Authority complied in writing on the next day, May 10, 1991, but I never was able to see my personnel files—despite several Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests that were sent by certified mail.  The corruption, cover up and sabotage were never addressed by the Transit Authority, or its parent company, the MTA and its Inspector General’s Office where General Counsel Michael Boxer has always been wholly aware of the dishonesty perpetuated by the MTA.  Whereas Michael Boxer could have recommended immediate reinstatement that could have made me “whole” again, he chose to conclude his own internal report that was three years delinquent by stating that, “Serious questions are raised about Mr. Iritano and record falsification,” which was simply not true, and firmly supported by the Transit Authority’s complete reversal of all misconduct allegations against me during oral argument in Appellate Court, Second Department, on May 9, 1991.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn (whom I contacted in writing in August, 2006), Councilman Eric Ulrich and Assemblyman Michael Miller have collectively known about these charges for more than three years.  In fact, my story has been profiled twice, on September 30, 2010 in The Queens Chronicle, and in April, 1998, in The Forum of Queens.  Ms. Quinn’s patronage mill administration has created a hostile environment with me that betrays public service, and Ms. Quinn herself has contradicted the facts and mission of the City Council in the initial letter that she sent to my home address, dated August 31, 2006, where she clearly states that, “The Council is committed to ensuring that the laws and practices of city agencies are fair and just.  This extends to the terms and conditions of employment, termination of employment, and decisions on pensions.”  Clearly, my case of dishonesty, sabotage and official city misconduct fall in line with Mr. Quinn’s written purview.  In fact, Assemblyman Michael Miller wrote a letter to Ms. Quinn in September, 2012 (and I am still waiting to see it, despite multiple requests), supposedly questioning the jurisdiction of the City Council with regard to their failure to demand a completed investigation by the Department of Investigations (that DOI investigators and officials initiated in May, 1993, but failed to complete), and Ms. Quinn’s own role to initiate her own, independent investigation, as her August, 2006 letter clearly states.  When Mr. Miller showed me the reply to his letter to Ms. Quinn, dated December 6, 22012, it yet again contradicts her initial letter to me from six years ago, suggesting that her office cannot help me, despite an incomplete investigation by DOI investigators, intimating that the Transit Authority is a state governed agency (I maintained a CITY pension with New York City Employees’ Retirement System, and the agency that I worked for is the MTA New York City Transit).  Ms. Quinn continues to ignore these firmly established facts, and Mr. Miller still hasn’t sent a rebuttal reply to her office, despite meeting with Mr. Miller on Monday, December 17, 2012, and urging him to respond, with my assisted help in composing an evidentiary letter (with document attachments).  Moreover, Mr. Ulrich’s office has repeatedly refused to meet with me (after an initial meeting that took place at his Ozone Park headquarters, on Monday, October 4, 2010, that followed my profiled story in The Queens Chronicle a few days earlier, on Thursday, Sepbember 30th), and do his job (which is a dereliction of public duty, and a clear violation of the oath of public office that he swore to uphold).  Likewise, Michael Miller is wholly aware of the evidence and Eric Ulrich’s failure to investigate by re-ordering a completed investigation by the New York City Department of Investigations, but won’t take any action of his own to help me reverse this travesty of justice and retaliatory sabotage.  Mr. Miller has accompanied me to Albany, in September, 2010, to meet with former Governor Paterson’s labor relations director, Jeffrey Mann, who squarely blamed this cover up on city government (where I once had a pension with NYCERS, before I was frozen out of the system after five inactive years).  Likewise, Eric Ulrich and his former chief of staff, Bart Haggerty (whose brother John embezzled nearly one million dollars from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reelection campaign (and was convicted last year followed by mandatory prison time that he will be serving this year), continued to blame the State of New York, where the MTA Office of the Inspector General has jurisdiction, (where they continue to ignore the corruption, cover up and evidence (that firmly supports my case) with impugnity.  Hence, the state blames the city; the city blames the state, and I have been left to rot for nearly 24 years, despite solid and indisputable evidence that should have been able to ascribe blame, punishment and official city and state misconduct to the management who conspired to stall, delay and ignore solid evidence that my case wholly supports—based on a body of evidence that has never changed, to my complete advantage of honesty, transparency and full disclosure.

When clear abuses of “Taxation Without Representation” are evident, public service officials like Ulrich and Miller, of whom I am a constituent, refuse to take action and do what they are paid in a position that demands their challenge to authority, and to question, remedy and address any concern of a constituent, where does someone like me turn to for help, action, accountability and a proper, completed investigation?  My employment record has been spotty in an environment of under paid, underemployment ever since this debacle infected my life and destroyed my standards of living, without the security of my earned and deserved pension, health insurance, and independence as my family and me continue to languish in deeper levels of beggary, obscurity, quiet desperation, helplessness, hopelessness and local government anarchy.  I deserve representation from the public servants whose purview includes representation to me as a constituent with a solid cause of action.  My lawyer, Robert Ligansky, proved willful misconduct by the Transit Authority, and failure of the MTA to properly investigate, and when the MTA finally completed their intentionally delayed investigation from April, 1989 to September, 1992, there still was no firm resolve or recommendation for restitution from Michael Boxer and the MTA Inspector General’s Office, where I was a total victim of a corrupt, dishonest, dishonorable  and disloyal bureaucracy—despite a full reversal of all previous allegations against me by the Transit Authority that was revealed in Appellate Court, Second Department, on May 9, 1991, where my lawyer and me personally witnessed their on-the-record testimony and reversal.  I don’t need another lawyer—I need my local representatives to demand a fair, honest, thorough investigation without further delay, and to question both the Transit Authority and MTA Office of the Inspector General’s Office (and Michael Boxer), who don’t seem to be accountable to no one, because they appear to be exalted.

I would greatly appreciate some urgently needed help from Republican Committee Chairperson, Phil Ragusa, City Councilman Dan Halloran and anyone else who can offer reliable help, in lieu of the epic failure, apathy, arrogance and cowardice that have been solidly present throughout my debacle with Eric Ulrich and Michael Miller (and State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., and his predecessor, Serfin Maltese).  I can be reached at my home number, 718/835-6948.  My cell telephone number is 917/837-2573.  Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office telephone number in Ozone Park is 718/641-1591; Assembly Michael Miller can be reached at his Woodhaven office at 718/805-0950.  Both representatives have offered nothing beyond neverending stress, anxiety, and a “delay, deny, and hope that you die” bureaucracy.  With so many scandals of corruption that effect and relate to constituents like me who have practically had to beg for proper representation with regard to honest, ethical city and state government leadership, I should not have to lose my pension, present and future because of false, fake and failed leadership—and the very public representatives who have collectively been the obstacle to fair labor practices and treatment, that now overshadow any corruption and misconduct by the Transit Authority and MTA.  The hurdles keep getting bigger for me to jump over, while politicians throw their hands up in the air and feign cluelessness.  I am disgusted, fed up and betrayed by corrupt, dishonest and hostile leadership.  Please respond with urgently needed help.

 

Sincerely,

 

RICHARD C. IRITANO

107-41 107th Street

Ozone Park, New York   11417

917/837-2573 (cell telephone)

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/02/quinn-ulrich-miller-lef-whistleblower-to-rot/

Dec 14 2011

The Last Of The Clubhouse Bosses

Where have you gone Tony Seminerio? The NYC mayoral candidates turn their lonely eyes to you. It was the mid-nineties and the sun was blazing down on Ozone Park. Giuliani was in the hot seat at Gracie Mansion, he had just become the GOP Mayor earlier that year thanks to a powerhouse political club in South Queens.

Strolling down the block past La’ Bella Vita on any given evening you could hear the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the clinking glasses of a toastmaster. Tony Seminerio sat at the back table, the pungent aroma of cigar smoke would fill the stillness of the air as the revolving door opened and closed at what seemed like a thousand times a night.

It was that time of year again and the candidates were getting ready. Mayoral hopefuls had descended from their chic towers in the burgeoning metropolis to make the ten-minute journey over the East River and into Queens to jockey for district endorsements.

And it was then when Assemblyman Tony Seminerio was in his prime. He was already in the state Assembly for twenty years and was already a legend. He would walk in and everybody who worked the room went wild. Thousands of constituents would ask him for help, elected officials across the state would come to pay respect to a larger than life Assemblyman.

When Tony walked into a room in south Queens everyone acknowledged him. It was out of respect. A hundred people would rise to their feet as levity was swept away by pure admiration. “Hey how ya doin’ Tony good to see ya” said the doorman. “Not too bad kid I sent your son’s resume to City Hall.” Tony responded with his thick Queens accent, a question he must have been asked a thousand times before.

Tony pulled off the political Lufthansa heist for the Mayors Seat in the nineteen nineties, and he was in the perfect position to do so.

Everyone was about to find out, the 38th A.D Democratic club didn’t shine shoes anymore.

It felt like it was 1955. Tony would throw parties; classy parties and the young heavy metal looking guys would drink beer next to the men donning their Armani suits sipping cocktails. The spirit of fraternity permeated the air. In this clubhouse, brotherhood reigned supreme. The stock 1950s characters lined up at the bar comparing campaign stories, plotting their next moves and generally shooting the concordant breeze. It was an old school atmosphere, a rebirth, a renaissance, a snapshot back in time into the glory days of yesteryear where everyone was considered family.

The club’s prowess and reputation was built on the notorious charisma of Assemblyman Tony Seminerio – a cigar smoking, red wine drinking tough guy that could have been a character in a Scorsese film but was also known to have a heart of gold and would make an effort to help as many people as he could whenever they needed it. He was Tony the Gent. When people came to him with a real workable problem Tony often got misty eyed and took his personal time to help them in any community affair. While most legislators barely help constituents within their legislative duty, Tony would go above and beyond and do anything he could to help.

When most legislators have press conferences filled with false promises and false actions, Tony never held a press conference; he would assist people in total silence.

In the Mid-nineties, Tony was able to walk through the doors of Pataki’s office, Bruno’s office, and Giuliani’s office without a slight step.

Sheldon Silver’s staff called him the dream killer,

he was the only democratic lawmaker whom after Sheldon silver passed a bill in the state Assembly had enough clout with the republican state Senators to have the bill killed. In 1988, Tony helped state Senator, Serphin Maltese get elected and as payback Tony was gerrymandered to send a message, don’t ever help out the GOP. But instead of getting rid of him, they made him.

At Tony’s meetings, Giuliani would come in with his P.B.A entourage and sit at the opposite table as Queens Democratic boss Tom Manton the predecessor of Joe Crowley while Alan Hevisi would work the room.

Tony’s club had become the base for Republican chieftains like George Pataki, Al Stabile, Thomas Ognibene and Dennis Gallagher – they all had a home at the club. Tom Long would walk in and Tony would greet him with the respect that a Statesman would deserve.

The republicans would sometimes sit next to Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner. It was a weird hodgepodge but while most clubs are lucky to get their Assembly Member to show, hundreds danced while Tony Seminerio sang Italian songs.

Before he was elected to Assembly, Tony served as the Vice-President of the powerful Correction Officers union. Even though he was a social conservative and a pro-life advocate, Tony never swayed from his union roots. In return for supporting pro union legislation, the unions offered him political support – boots on the ground, which became his operative base.

Tony’s ascension to political boss climaxed as the point man, the go-to-guy for candidates vying for the votes in Queens. Hundreds owed him allegiance because he was masterful in his selection for patronage posts and favor trading.  When Giuliani struggled with the Queens GOP, he went for a sit down with Tony. After all, the 38th AD was the only district Pataki took in ’98 outside of Staten Island.

Tony had a legion of lawyers, union officials, correction officers, and constituents whom would work at his behest.

Before the dawn of the Internet and social networking, Tony would make one phone call and could organize a busload of hardened campaigners and send them to any part of the city to aid an election. He even had a group of young heavy metal guys called The Vultures whom hung out in Forest park. Tony would send them around knocking at doors. They were scary looking, but effective.

The 38th A.D club had a major contribution with Republicans like Thomas Ognibene, Dennis Gallagher, Serphin Maltese and Rudy Giuliani. Even Tom Long the Queens chair of the Conservative Party received a standing ovation and it was for a good reason, as a thank you. At the time, most of their campaign armies came courtesy of Tony. Even though they were Democrats, the 38th A.D club had become, in part, the foot soldiers of the Republican Party.

He also helped his fellow Dems. In 1996 when Ann-Margaret Carrozza ran against Doug Prescott, Shelly Silver made a personal request to Tony for help. In response, Tony sent a hundred foot soldiers into Bayside. Even Carrozza’s campaign manager was connected to him. Tom Catipano, who is also a former Assembly Member, had served as Tony’s consigliere for four decades.

When Eliot Spitzer ran for Attorney General of New York, he came by himself to a trattoria in Queens to kiss Tony’s ring. They brokered a deal and Tony agreed to help by sending soldiers to hand out fliers. Shortly after Spitzer’s victorious election, he took his time returning Tony’s phone calls – in a sense Spitzer was ducking him, a bad move that would later come back to haunt him as it wouldn’t be long before they would see each other again in the Capital. While standing in the well, Tony chatted amongst his colleagues.

When Spitzer walked into the room, Tony’s calm demeanor changed in the blink of an eye.

He unleashed a thunderous roar that echoed across the chamber, “Oh, you don’t return my calls? Go fuck yourself! Four years comes around real quick. ” Spitzer turned red as a group of legislators laughed at the top of their lungs.

Are there any clubs that could help out a candidate in the way Tony’s club could have helped a Marty Golden or Ray Kelly? With the Queens GOP engaged in a great civil war, the loss of clout compounded by a pyrrhic victory by Phil Ragusa over Tom Ognibene, the party is in shambles and far too fractal to field any viable candidates.

Presently, most Democratic clubs don’t fair any better than their Republican counterparts with the exception of clubs that focus on leadership, networking, attracting young people and performing community service, a winning combination.

It’s a strong formula for efficacy that is not mutually exclusive of strong leadership. The best clubs meet these requirements while  the rest are small and disillusioned by family dynasties and lobbyists connected to elected officials. For example an inside source said, “Powhattan, Tammany, it’s not what it used to be, everyone’s old.” Jumping to the other side of Queens, The Jefferson Club has twenty members and ten of them want to run for higher office. RFK is also a maturing organization. Ask certain clubs what community service they have performed lately and they’ll stare at you inquisitively, perhaps even hand over a small check – a seemingly empty gesture when compared to real political help like boots on the ground to collect petitions and help with gotv, and perhaps, maybe even a little genuine community service.

The strength of a club is measured in petitions. How many can you deliver? Typically today, the clubs are not only smaller in number then Tony’s club, not to mention aging, but they are highly unlikely to support a Republican candidate.

The conditions that put Mayor Giuliani into office no longer exist in Queens. Since then, if any Republican wants to win the Mayoralty they’d have to ally with a powerful Democratic club. Unless that happens it’s hard to imagine another Republican winning citywide office. Nowadays, a billionaire Independent can buy the election and wouldn’t even need a powerful Democratic house to bolster their ranks as the Republican party is so weak former police commissioner Ray Kelly, Marty Gold, and even Dan Halloran have been rumored to run for mayor. That’s how weak it is.

The heyday of the 38th A.D was a ten year span from 1993-2003. The club diminished when Giuliani left office and finally lost its fire when Tony had a heart attack. He couldn’t keep up with the lifestyle after his near brush with death.

Tony served as Assembly member beginning in 1978 but finally resigned in 2009 after pleading guilty to a single count of fraud, saying he had wrongly advanced the interests of a consulting client in connection with state business, according to a report in the New York Times.

In 2010, he passed away while serving out his prison sentence. With Tony out of the picture the fallout was disastrous.  Lobbying\consulting firms swelled in power and prestige as the heyday of the old clubhouse bosses came to an end.

Would Tony have payed such  groups? Doubtful, as he was his own powerbroker. This siege is underway across Queens from Astoria to Little Neck and there are only a few independent voices that stand in the way. Tony must be rolling in his grave.

To put it into perspective, Tony’s 38th A.D Democratic club was by far the largest democratic club in Queens County; it dwarfed any club that exists today. Presently, the 38th A.D Democratic club now boasts 20 members under the tutelage of incumbent Assemblyman Mike Miller and Councilwoman Liz Crowley. Down from the Seminerio heyday when there where over 750 active members.

As a citywide candidate, you can make a thousand phone calls yet it is unlikely that one political club or one Republican county organization could have a major impact. Why? Because Tony Seminerio was the last of the clubhouse bosses.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/the-last-of-the-club-house-bosses/

Nov 29 2011

In The Halls Of Justice, The Only Justice Is In The Halls

Loyalty?

How does the Democratic party perpetuate its own power? Through manipulating the court system, according to the NY Times.

The Queens county surrogate court is a bastion of power hungry party loyalists. They are the batteries that makes the machine function.

Operatives and future candidates stay in the loop by towing the party line.

Luckily,  a few brave souls that are not afraid to speak out against a good ol’ boy system where loyalty is measured by submission.

Read the scathing NY Times article for the full scoop.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/in-the-halls-of-justice-the-only-justice-is-in-the-halls/


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