Friday, April 10, 2015

Impeach -- The Uncommon Ed U. Cator on Cuomo, Tisch: Playing Fast and Loose in a Labyrinth of Deceit

[T]he web of money, appointments, corporations, hedge funds, people, and campaign contributions crisscross so much in this complex money maze that it was difficult to write with any fluidity. It appears to me that Merryl Tisch needs to be seriously investigated as to her part in this web of deceit, as well as many others. The corporate money and real estate connections to Tisch cannot be ignored. There is no doubt to me, however, that Mr. Cuomo may have crossed some ethical lines. There is also no doubt to me that due to the way the impeachment process of a Governor works in New York state that if our senate and legislature were truly the voice of the people, then they would pursue that avenue with much vigor until Governor Cuomo is indeed impeached.....The Uncommon Ed U. Cator
A nice piece of work pointing to Cuomo impeachment possibilities from The Uncommon Ed U. Cator.

Dishonesty, Lies, Deception: Cuomo Playing Fast and Loose in a Labyrinth of Deceit

February 22, 2015 at 10:13am
Cuomo: Playing Fast and Loose in a Labyrinth of Deceit

The impeachment process of a governor in New York starts in the state Assembly and then moves to the state Senate. “It doesn't have to be a crime. It doesn't even have to be an official act. The words are "willful and corrupt conduct in office." It could be a private act. The Assembly decides what's impeachable.” http://www.myfoxny.com/…/impeachment-process-in-new-york-st…

Andrew Cuomo's recent budgetary tactics are completely despicable to me. His”strategy”of blackmail is usurping the budget process and completely circumvents the entire idea of democracy. Holding the budget process hostage in order to achieve his own personal and political goals is nothing short of economic terrorism against his own constituency.

Over the past few days I have had information shared with me and today started digging some more on my own. This writing unfortunately is itself a winding labyrinth meandering from education & campaign donations to hedge funds to Pearson to education reform to tax breaks to real-estate and back. At this point is impossible for me to make it fluid narrative because of all the twists and turns.

After piecing this together though it is difficult for me to believe that Governor Andrew Cuomo has not broken any legal laws of ethics. It is also my opinion that he most certainly has betrayed the working class of NY and the public trust. I also believe that there is enough here to begin the impeachment process.

A reading of the Teachout/Kuhn Washington Park Project paper, “Corruption in Education: Hedge Funds and the Takeover of New York’s Schools,” published recently in December of 2014 clearly shows the amount of private dollars that were pumped into the NYS legislative process last year with the sole purpose of taking over public education.

“New York State is plagued by legal corruption: campaign contributions and outside spending explicitly designed to buy policy outcomes. In 2014, a tiny group of powerful hedge fund executives, representing an extreme version of this corruption, spent historic amounts of money in order to take over education policy.
This paper details this fast-paced purchase of political power, and the threat it poses to democracy and public education in New York State.
A small cadre of men, including Carl Icahn, Paul Tudor Jones, and Dan Loeb, poured more than $10 million into state lobbying and election campaigns since the beginning of 2014, with electrifying results.i Their campaign bears the signature components of the corporate takeover world which they occupy: rapid action on multiple fronts; highly secretive activity shielded from the public view; high stakes, big spending; and top-down power plays that are not accountable to the public.
First, in a span of 10 weeks they spent over $6 million on lobbying that won unprecedented public funding to pay for charter school rent. ii
This was done as part of a campaign orchestrated with Governor Cuomo, designed to frustrate Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to win universal full-day pre-K, paid for entirely through expanded taxation of New York City millionaires.

Phase two of the attack came in the fall elections.


Twelve individuals spent $4.3 million on a PAC apparently designed to purchase control of State Senate education policy.iii
Their effort depended on misleading voters about the actual intentions of the PAC. Rather than honestly advocating for more public funding for privately-run charter schools, and explaining who was behind it, the TV ads, mailers and radio spots paid for by the PAC attacked Senate Democrats for doing the bidding of New York City and Mayor de Blasio.iv

Ironically, the PAC’s priority was actually to win more money for charter schools located in New York City. The PAC also attacked candidates for supporting the vital anti-corruption measure of publicly funded elections.v

These Wall Street titans cemented their power play by securing the political allegiance of Governor Andrew Cuomo through campaign donations and outside spending.

They worked together with Governor Cuomo during the state budget process…..”

I recommend that everyone read this very clear, precise, well written, and well referenced document in its entirety: http://www.aqeny.org/…/Hedge-Fund-White-Paper-Teachout-Fina…

Here is a partial accounting of some of Mr. Cuomo's campaign contributors which makes clear that any ethics reforms must include the Governor's office itself.
Andrew Cuomo’s Campaign Contributors With Charter Schools Affiliation
Great Public Schools PAC Belongs to Eva Moskowitz CEO of Success Academy $65,000

Joel GreenBlatt Success Academy co-founder $50,000
Julia Greenblatt Joel Greenblatt’s wife $23,000
John Petry Success Academy co-founder $60,000
Samuel Cole Success Academy Board $42,500
Bryan Binder Success Academy Board $20,000
Jill Braufman Success Academy Board $57,500
Daniel Loeb Success Academy Board, StudentFirstNY BOD $60, 367
Margaret Loeb Daniel Loeb’s wife $29,000
John H. Scully Success Academy Board $50,000
Daniel Nir Success Academy Board $65,000
Charles Strauch Success Academy Board $25,000
Jarrett Posner Success Academy Board $2,500
Andrew Stone Success Academy Board $60,000
Dana Stone Andrew Stone’s wife $25,000
Gregory Sawers Success Academy Board $10,000
Catherine Shainker Success Academy Board $2,000
Suleman Lunat Success Academy Board $1,000
Kent Yalowitz Success Academy Board $5,000
Steven M. Galbraith Success Academy Board $35,000
Larry Robbins KIPP NY Board (charter school organization) $90,800
Winston Fischer Civic Builders BOD (non-profit developer
specializing in charter school construction) $64,500
Jessica Fischer Winston Fischer’s wife $13,000
Kenneth Fischer Winston Fischer’s brother $67,500
Steven Fischer Winston Fischer’s brother $47,500
Brian Olson Involved in multiple charter school support &
advocacy orgs (ConnCan, Civic Builders,
NewSchools Venture Fund) $45,000
Kenneth Langone StudentFirstNY Board of Directors $50,000
David Boies StudentFirstNY Board of Directors $35,000
Boies, Schiller, & Flexner LLP David Boies is chairman of the company $95, 543
Paul Tudor Jones StudentFirstNY Board of Directors $80,000
Sonia Jones Paul Tudor Jones’ wife $25,000
Joel Klein StudentFirstNY Board of Directors $10,000
Brian Higgins Harlem Children’s Zone board $15,000
Tania Higgins Brian Higgins’s wife $35,000
Jonathan Sackler Achievement First charter schools network
Board of Directors, NewSchools Venture Fund
(a non-profit supporting charter schools) $46,000
Bruce Kovner Bronx Preparatory Charter Schools board $45,000
Carl Icahn Icahn Charter Schools founder $75,000
Whitney Tilson KIPP Academy Charter Schools board,
Democrats for Education Reform (non-profit
advocating for charter schools) $12,000
Brian Lawrence Democracy Prep Charter School $20,000
Democrats for Education Non-profit supporting charter schools
Reform $72,000
Coalition for Public Charter Charter schools advocacy organization
Schools PAC $10,500
Total: $1,636,710
Source: Campaign Disclosure Reports
You can see an article that addresses some of these donations here:
“Success Academy donors give big to Cuomo campaign,” by Geoff Decker on January 17, 2014
As reported by the New York Times In December of 2013 The Pearson Foundation was found guilty of repeatedly breaking NYS laws and fined almost $8 million. “The Pearson Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, will pay $7.7 million to settle accusations that it repeatedly broke New York State law by assisting in for-profit ventures.” http://www.nytimes.com/…/educational-publishers-charity-acc…

Also as reported by the Times,” Under the terms of the agreement to be announced on Friday, the money, aside from $200,000 in legal expenses, will be directed to 100Kin10, a national effort led by a foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, to train more teachers in high-demand areas, including science, technology, engineering and math.”

The Carnegie Foundation is one of the front runners in the Charter School movement, not for improving public schools. The question of who decided to funnel the Pearson money to them must be investigated. Is the Carnegie Corporation via its “foundation” sliding money into Cuomo’s campaign coffers or into the reform movement or to the NYS Board of regents themselves as shown on page 15 of the document found here:http://www.regents.nysed.gov/…/2015Mee…/February/215bra2.pdf where it states:

“ACTION ITEM : Acceptance of a $500,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York BR (A) 4 MOVED, that the Board of Regents accept the sum of $500,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to support the work of the USNYRegents Research Fellowship Program.”
Is the Carnegie foundation taking advantage, as many others are, through a campaign finance loophole that Governor Cuomo has raised millions of dollars. A loophole by the way that he pledged to close during his first campaign?
Some of the major Limited Liability Companies (LLC) that take advantage of this loophole and have contributed to Cuomo are indeed some major real estate players in NYC; which brings back to Pearson and how this may tie together:
“Leading Global Learning Company Will Expand Presence in Hudson Square – One of City’s Burgeoning Neighborhoods – with 270,000 Square Feet of Renovated Space by Summer 2014.”

The leading Global learning Company referred to is Pearson. Information about this expansion can be found at
This link also provides information about how much the dollar incentive was for Pearson to make such a move.
More information about the real estate area in question can be found here: http://therealdeal.com/issues_a…/honing-in-on-hudson-square/
Curiously in 2010 Governor Cuomo appointed Jeffrey Leeds, the President and Co-Founder of Leeds Equity to his handpicked committee education reform. He was the founding chairman of the Green Dot New York Charter School . According to http://littlesis.org/person/70419/Jeffrey_Leeds Mr. Leeds made two campaign donations to Governor Cuomo around this time: 1) between Sept 1, 2007 and Jan 14, 2009 he contributed $27,000 and, 2) between Jul 2, 2009 and May 6, 2010 he contributed $28,000.
Of greater curiosity to me is the fact that a gentleman named Jim Behnke is also part of Leeds/ Equity Partners. “… Behnke served as Executive Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at Pearson, where he led strategy and development for online learning programs in the company’s global Higher Ed and US K12 curriculum businesses. Furthermore another former Cuomo appointee, Matthew Goldstein also affiliated with Leeds: “ Appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, he chaired the New York City Regional Economic Development Council and was a member of the NY Education Reform Commission.” All of this can be found athttp://www.leedsequity.com/people

The following quote is from the Leeds Home page: “Leeds Equity Partners is the pioneer in private equity investing in the knowledge sector, which includes the education, training, business services, and information services and software industries. Founded in 1993, Leeds Equity has deployed over $2.6 billion of capital in investments across the knowledge sector spectrum. Today, Leeds Equity’s portfolio of investments collectively generates more than $3 billion of revenue annually …”http://www.leedsequity.com/
Now we come to Glenwood Management and the Extell Development Co.

“Of the LLCs giving to Cuomo, the most generous are controlled by Glenwood Management, a real estate development company headquartered on Long Island. Headed by Leonard Litwin, a reclusive 99-year-old magnate, Glenwood has given $800,000 to Cuomo since he took office using 19 separate LLCs.”

“Another real estate developer, the Extell Development Co., has also given extensively to Cuomo through LLCs, including two donations last year that were flagged by the Moreland Commission.

Two LLCs affiliated with Extell gave the governor a total of $100,000 on January 28, 2013 — two days before Cuomo signed legislation that granted a tax break to Extell’s One57 skyscraper in Manhattan, as well as properties owned by four other developers.
Two other LLCs with ties to Extell gave Cuomo another $100,000 six months later. (The contributions were first reported last year by The Daily News.)”
Glenwood management and Leonard Litwin have direct ties to Sheldon Silver and his alleged illegal activities. As quoted from

“An unnamed firm that is described in federal charges filed Thursday against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appears to be Glenwood Management, a Manhattan luxury residential apartment developer…. Mr. Silver was arrested Thursday on charges of using his powerful position to reap millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. A complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan states that Mr. Silver worked to "induce real estate developers with business before the state" to hire a law firm run by his former Assembly counsel, that the speaker earned fees from the referrals, and that the developer knew about the fees.

“The complaint, released by the office of Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, cites a “Developer 1” that has made more than $10 million in New York political donations since 2005 and was the state’s largest political donor during that time. Including contributions made through various limited liability corporations, Glenwood Management’s 100-year-old owner Leonard Litwin has been the state’s largest political donor during that period.”
“In addition, the complaint states that Developer 1 in 2014 had paid eight lobbying firms a total of $900,000. State lobbying records show Glenwood Management paid eight lobbying firms exactly $900,000 last year.”

Regarding Extell, according to the NY Post, “US Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the massive tax breaks granted to Midtown’s luxury One57 condo building, where a mystery buyer just paid a record $100 million-plus for the duplex penthouse, sources told The Post on Sunday.
The now-disbanded Moreland Commission panel on public corruption was reported to have been investigating the sweetheart tax abatements scored by developer Gary Barnett of Extell Development. Bharara took over that probe when he subpoenaed the firm’s records after Gov. Cuomo unexpectedly shut down the commission last year, sources said.”http://nypost.com/…/bharara-probing-tax-deals-given-to-lux…/

On top of all this I must pose this question: will a deep and thorough investigation eventually lead to the NYS Board of regents, in particular Merryl Tisch, in collusion with Governor Cuomo in unethical behavior regarding educational decisions in New York? As reported by Alan Singer (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/new-yorks-secret-educatio_b… ).

“In December 2010, Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents announced that thirteen Regents Research Fellows would report to and advise John King and the seventeen-member board. Instead of making them state employees subject to review and public accountability, the fellows were paid by a private funds. This included a $1 million donation by Tisch herself. Tisch is a member of one of New York's wealthiest real estate clans.”

This was also reported in the Albany Times Union by James M. Odato: “Since that $1 million commitment, other philanthropists have opened their wallets. The Hewlett Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Tiger Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation, the Helmsley Trust and General Electric are among 19 donors that have underwritten the program.” (http://www.timesunion.com/…/Education-reform-backed-by-the-… ).

One final and intriguing Tisch connection was reported in the Daily News
(http://www.nydailynews.com/…/wayne-barrett-sheldon-silver-g…) this month (Feb 2015) regarding the ongoing Sheldon Silver investigation:

“…a scandal-consumed Silver affiliate, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which has become a headline hog all its own. It was the Met Council that caused these layers of insular overlap to blow up even before the Silver bust. The council's longtime CEO, Willie Rapfogel, took his fall in 2013, having squeezed $9 million out of his state subsidies for the poor, pocketing $3 million of it himself……The Met Council board is chaired by Merryl Hiat Tisch.”

As I said at the outset: the web of money, appointments, corporations, hedge funds, people, and campaign contributions crisscross so much in this complex money maze that it was difficult to write with any fluidity. It appears to me that Meryl Tische needs to be seriously investigated as to her part in this web of deceit, as well as many others. The corporate money and real estate connections to Tische cannot be ignored. There is no doubt to me, however, that Mr. Cuomo may have crossed some ethical lines. There is also no doubt to me that due to the way the impeachment process of a Governor works in New York state that if our senate and legislature were truly the voice of the people, then they would pursue that avenue with much vigor until Governor Cuomo is indeed impeached.


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