Tag Archives: corruption

Trump Loves Golf

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MDC says, “Hey Donald, you stated how there is so much WORK TO DO; who has time for golf , like Obama? MDC states, ” Mr. Trump ….. YOU ARE FULL OF SHIT. ”

Donald Trump made a Saturday visit to his Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C., in Ashburn, Va., on Oct. 14 to play golf. The visit marked the 72nd time the 45th President has visited one of his 17 golf clubs (and, for most of them, presumably played some golf) since becoming President on Jan. 20, 2017.

According to pool reports, Trump arrived to the club around 11 a.m. He played golf again with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who played golf with Trump on Columbus Day when the president called in staff from a planned day off to keep the facility open to his satisfaction.

Trump carries a 2.8 USGA handicap index, but he hasn’t entered a score since June 2016.

So far, Trump has been on the golf course or his clubs during some portion of the day for 26.2 percent of his presidency.

The Trump Administration, per policy, does not acknowledge that Trump is playing even a hole of golf, much less an 18-hole round. However, if he’s going to the golf club for about 4-5 hours, you can be pretty sure he’s playing golf. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has asked the White House to provide the names of Trump’s golf partners, as well for his clubs to provide visitor logs to get a sense of when Trump has played golf and with whom.

The President is certainly entitled to some leisure time, and golf has been an outlet for most Commanders-in-Chief dating back to the early 20th century. However, the reluctance to even acknowledge that this President plays golf conflicts with his almost relentless criticism of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who played an estimated 333 rounds of golf as President.

$167 Million BPCA Money Pigs 

MDC has been privileged to experience the behind the scenes corruption and political maneuvers that were done in Battery Park City. The Authority acts similar to the Mafia, but the quality of life to the citizens is deeply damaged and misguided. MDC has stated many times thru private sources, that the Authority acts like a private owned business smuggling contracts around and wasting hard earned resident wealth that should be presented as a lower cost of living advantage not a Screwing. The Inspector General labels the Authority as Scathing Abuse in their reports . 

The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) earned $167 million in excess revenue for the fiscal year that ended last October 31, according to financial results discussed at the agency’s January 22 board meeting, as well as an annual financial report that was made public shortly afterward. If the Authority were a private corporation, the $167 million figure would be considered profit. Since the Authority is a public-benefit corporation (a hybrid that combines the characteristics of a private-sector business with a government agency), the funds are disbursed according to contractual requirements and political agreements, rather than to stockholders.

The BPCA collected $236 million in revenue during its 2014 fiscal year, an increase of approximately $20 million, accord to the BPCA’s chief financial officer, Robert Serpico. The bulk of these funds comes from two sources. The first, known as “ground rent,” is a function of the exotic nature of property ownership in Battery Park City, where homeowners, landlords, and developers do not own outright the land they occupy, but instead lease the space (through the year 2069), in exchange for a yearly payment. In its 2014 fiscal year, the BPCA collected slightly more than $62 million in such payments. The second revenue stream is known as PILOT (or “payments in lieu of taxes”). Because the occupants of land in Battery Park City do not legally own the acreage their buildings sit in, it is technically not eligible for property tax. Instead, the BPCA levies a surcharge meant to mirror what taxes would be, if they land were owned by its occupants. The Authority collected slightly more than $181 million in PILOT payments for the 12 months that ended last October 31.

From the gross revenue it collects each year, the BPCA deducts operating expenses, the largest of which is service on its debt-load of slightly more than $1 billion. Other operating expenses include payments for staff and capital improvements to the physical condition of the 92 acres of landfill that the agency oversees. According the Mr. Serpico, the BPCA’s annual expenses decreased by $871,000 during the 2014 fiscal year.

Once the BPCA’s expenses are covered, PILOT funds are transferred directly to the City, as the equivalent of tax revenue. For the 12 months ending last October 31, the BPCA is remitting some $124 million to the City in the form of PILOT payments. These funds go into the City’s budget for any use that the Mayor and the legislature deem appropriate.

After operating expenses, ground rents (along with other revenue sources) are disbursed according to a series of agreements between government agencies. The most recent of these, reached in 2010, requires the BPCA remit to the City a total of $461 million in coming years, to be used for affordable housing. The first $200 million is committed to the City’s 421a tax abatement program, which provides owners or developers of multi-family apartment buildings with a subsidy in the form of greatly reduced property taxes.

With the most recent payment of $42 million toward the BPCA’s housing commitment, the mandate of $200 million to supper the 421a program has been fulfilled, and the Authority has begun paying into its second housing obligation, of $261 million. This revenue stream is directed to the City’s Housing Development Corporation, which uses low-interest loans to finance the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low-, moderate-, and middle-income residents.


Source: broadsheet by Matthew Fenton 

Continued Corruption at Battery Park City Authority

MDC suggests a class action suit be delivered against the Battery Park City Authority for the abundant amount of years of political corruption.

The Comptroller’s December, 2013 report, “Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending: The Battery Park City Authority,” concluded that the BPCA “lacked written policies and procedures clarifying what constituted appropriate discretionary spending and specifying permissible dollar thresholds, necessary justifications, and required formal approvals and supporting documentation.” The Comptroller’s office added, “we questioned the appropriateness of most of the Authority discretionary spending that we sampled during the audit.”

The audit sampled 69 discretionary expenditures totaling $112,132 and raised questions about 53 of them, totaling $100,700, “because these transactions did not appear necessary, were not clearly related to the purpose of the Authority, were not properly approved and/or were not adequately supported with documentation.” The Comptroller’s audit also raised red flags about $61,000 in charitable contributions to various not-for-profit organizations.”

This audit covered much of the same territory as a similar probe by the New York State Inspector General (IG), which concluded in 2010. The Comptroller’s audit, however, found that some of the practices criticized in the IG’s investigation continued for at least a year after that probe was concluded.

While the IG’s investigation focused largely on charitable donations to groups located, in some cases, hundreds of miles away from Battery Park City, the Comptroller’s audit found that by 2011, the BPCA had scaled back charitable contributions by 50 percent from the previous year, and that most BPCA charitable contributions were directed to Lower Manhattan organizations and events, such as Manhattan Youth, the Tribeca Film Festival, New York Downtown Hospital, the PTAs of local public schools, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

The retrenchment of Authority financial support for groups such as these in recent years has proved controversial among Lower Manhattan residents and community leaders, among whom there is a widely-shared perception that such contributions enhance the quality of downtown.

In a March 5 written response to the Comptroller’s audit, BPCA chairman Dennis Mehiel said, “since my arrival in June 2012, the Authority has significantly reduced its discretionary spending at my direction. Ten contributions were made in the fiscal year ended October 31, 2013, which represents an approximate 80 percent reduction from the fifty-four contributions made in fiscal year 2010.”

In response to one of the Comptroller’s key recommendations, that the BPCA, “establish a formal framework to govern contributions to outside entities and discontinue such spending unless it can be clearly established how such spending aligns with the Authority’s mission, purpose, duties and authority,” Mr. Mehiel wrote that, “the Authority’s management and its Board are currently in the process of modifying the Authority’s Discretionary Spending Policy and creating a formal framework to govern all contributions to outside entities, including evaluation criteria. Once the spending policy is modified and approved by the Board, any contributions to outside entities will be submitted to the Board in a detailed budget line-item format listing the proposed contributions along with the annual budget for approval, preceded by management’s thorough reviews as mentioned above.”

Source: broadsheet/ Matthew Fenton
top photo by Robert Simko

Snowden-Manning Changed Debate

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When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave his first public interview in Hong Kong, he said is greatest fear was that his revelations of huge US government spy programs might fall on deaf ears.

If that had happened, then his great personal sacrifice would have been for naught.

WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Snowden have paid a steep price for revealing US war crimes and the US government’s huge violations of the Bill of Rights and global spying program.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military stockade for exposing the truth. Snowden has been forced into exile, hunted down by the criminal administration in Washington.

But their sacrifice has not been in vain. Manning and Snowden have met their aim of initiating a serious discussion of these matters nationally and internationally.

Snowden’s revelations, coming after those of Manning, changed the context of Manning’s courts-martial. The exposure of the secret NSA programs caused many to begin to question Washington’s real intentions in prosecuting the soldier.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said Manning’s sentence was a partial victory, in that it was much less than what the administration wanted. The prosecutors argued strongly for a life sentence without the possibility of parole for “aiding the enemy” — in essence, treason.

The atmosphere created by Snowden’s revelations made that impossible. Their final demand was a sentence of 60 years, a virtual life sentence.

Manning’s lawyers say she will be eligible for parole in about seven years, having been given credit for the over three years he has already been held in prison, which included months of torture.

Her defense now moves into a new phase. After she was sentenced, Manning issued a strong open appeal to President Barack Obama for a pardon. That will be pursued legally.

Then Manning publicly stated she would now live her life as a woman, and changed her name to Chelsea. She said she would seek medical treatments to change her physical body accordingly.

The army immediately responded that it would allow no such treatments. Now Chelsea is challenging that in the courts. This is part of the fight for her to receive fair and good treatment in prison in general.

These campaigns will help keep her case in the public eye, and prepare, if necessary, to fight for her early release at the first opportunity for parole.

The New York Times editorialised that Manning’s sentence was “excessive”. But it said she deserved some punishment because she broke the law by revealing classified documents.

Manning should not have been charged at all for revealing serious crimes by the US government and military. But the NYT’s position reflects a division in the ruling class over the Manning-Snowden revelations.

Another indication was a close vote in the House of Representatives against defunding NSA’s program of monitoring every phone call in the US. Obama has also noted the unease in the country over the NSA’s spying.

Another aspect causing unease is the issue of freedom of the press. The Justice Department is seeking to force NUT reporter James Risen to testify in its case against former CIA officer Jeffry Sterling.

The Justice Department alleges Sterling leaked classified information to Risen for his coverage of the CIA. So far, Risen has resisted testifying, but he might face contempt of court charges.

The administration would like to move against the NYT and other papers for printing some of Manning’s and Snowden’s revelations. They are afraid of creating a backlash, however.

Now some US officials are seeking to put groups like WikiLeaks in a new category of “non-legitimate” journalism, and therefore not protected by the Constitutional guarantees of press freedom.

Such a move would raise its own problems for the ruling class, for example for reporting by social media. Would a teenager who posted Snowden’s documents be fair game for the spooks?

It is likely Assange is already under secret indictment, for publishing Manning’s material, as well as for aiding Snowden.

A section of the ruling class does not want to go that far in tearing up the Bill of Rights.

Another cause for concern in ruling class circles has been the wide international repercussions of Manning’s release of State Department cables embarrassing to the government, and the wide international net of the NSA’s spying.

A recent release of documents leaked by Snowden to journalist Glenn Greenwald, reported in Der Spiegel, revealed new information on US spying on Germans. The revelations created consternation.

Even conservative German Chancellor Merkel has raised the need for a mutual pact with the US against spying on each other’s government, citizens, and businesses — a suggestion that Obama has not even deigned to reply to.

Another new revelation reveals the NSA has broken into the encrypted discussions in United Nations delegations, in violation of UN rules.

The ham-fisted way that US and British authorities have targetted Snowden has raised international concern. Washington’s bid to capture Snowden, going so far as to force down an official plane carrying Bolivia’s president, has created an international uproar.

Further outrage was generated when Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained at London’s Heathrow airport for nine hours.

Miranda was on his way back to Brazil from a meeting in Berlin with journalist Laura Poitras, who is working with Greenwald on further Snowden releases.

The British political police claimed they were acting under a law to ferret out information about terrorism.

But the spooks didn’t even raise anything about terrorism when they grilled Miranda. Greenwald said: “The only thing they were interested in was NSA documents and what I was doing with Laura Poitras.”

British authorities confiscated all Miranda’s electronic documents and equipment. A court later ruled that his computers and records would have to be returned, but gave the police seven days to copy them.

The Brazilian government strongly objected. There is no doubt London acted in collaboration with Washington.

The British political police also threatened to shut down The Guardian, its editor Alan Rusbridger revealed. This was in retaliation for the paper’s publishing material from WikiLeaks and Greenwald.

The police said they would shut down the paper unless it turned over its hard drives containing the leaked material, or destroyed the hard drives. Rusbridger decided to destroy them under the watchful eyes of three police thugs.

The act was ridiculous since the material on the hard drives exists elsewhere. The intent was clearly to intimidate.

The credibility of the US administration has been damaged, both the revelations (and there are more to come), and the authoritarian response.

That this has caused consternation at the top presents new opportunities to expose the truth about Washington’s crimes. When thieves fall out, we should take advantage.

Source: Barry Sheppard was a long-time leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and the Fourth International. He recounts his experience in the SWP in a two-volume book, The Party — the Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, available from Resistance Books.