Archive for the ‘Government Corruption’ Category
Hillarious video — and sad, too. “Why be a taxpayer when I can be a tax spender?”
The Joke’s on Taxpayers
PHILLY.COM: Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco is retiring Friday, but only so she can collect a $478,057 pension check and return to work Monday, when she will be sworn in for her seventh term.
Tasco was one of six Council members to enroll in the city’s controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, better known as DROP. She did not immediately return a request for comment.
Plan participants trade a lower lifetime pension for a large one-time lump sum payment, but they are supposed to retire when they get that check.
Several elected officials, however, exercised a right approved by two city solicitors to run for election, retire for a day, collect their DROP payments, and return to work.
Tasco was one of six Council members to do that. But DROP enrollment became such a political liability that participation in the plan played a role in the decisions of four other Council members – Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller, Jack Kelly and President Anna Verna – not to run again. Councilman Frank Rizzo lost his reelection bid in part because he was enrolled in DROP.
Taco may have paid a price, too. She was widely expected to replace Verna as president, but as the DROP controversy grew, Tasco’s candidacy for the leadership spot faded. Instead, Councilman Darrell Clarke, who is not enrolled in DROP, will be the next president.
DROP allows participants to pick a retirement date four years in the future. That decision freezes their yearly pension payment and prompts the city to deposit an amount equal to their payment in an interest-bearing account. At some point before the end of the four years, the employee retires and collects the lump-sum check.
When DROP was introduced during the Rendell administration, it was thought that it would cost little or nothing.
But a study by the administration of Mayor Nutter said DROP had cost the city $258 million over 10 years. A later study paid for by Council put the pricetage at $100 million over 10 year.
Nutter proposed abolishing DROP, but Council instead chose to modify it to reduce its cost.
It will be real interesting to see how well he gets along with his fellow inmates.
NY DAILY NEWS: A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.
Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.
“Tavarez was … was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
“I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
POLITICO: Solyndra executives repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment this morning as House lawmakers pressed them to answer questions about the company’s financial collapse and any hopes of repaying their $535 million federal loan guarantee.
“While I hope to have an opportunity to assist this committee in the future, on the advice of my attorney, I must respectfully decline to answer any questions,” Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison told Energy and Commerce oversight subpanel Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who opened the questioning.
DAILY CALLER: The law firms representing two prominent Solyndra executives are major Democratic Party donors, The Daily Caller has learned.
Reuters first reported that the bankrupt company’s CEO, Brian Harrison, and CFO, W.G. Stover, plan to refuse to talk openly to congressional investigators about how their company squandered $535 million in taxpayer money. They will invoke their Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate themselves at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Friday.
White House email warned of risky Solyndra venture; worried about potential political damage with 2012 coming up
WASHINGTON POST: A White House official fretted privately that the Obama administration could suffer serious political damage if it gave additional taxpayer support to the beleaguered solar-panel company Solyndra, according to newly released e-mails.
The firm had burned through millions of dollars and in January still tottered near collapse. The official wanted the government’s top budget official to warn Obama’s energy secretary about the risk, according to the e-mails.
NEW YORK TIMES: The 1,100 full- and part-time employees who were abruptly laid off two weeks ago aren’t the only ones whose paychecks have been affected by the sudden and dramatic failure of bankrupt solar energy company, Solyndra Inc.
Because for its brief lifespan, Solyndra proved to be pretty good for the lobbying community.
According to records filed with the Clerk of the House and a search of disclosure forms compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Solyndra spent nearly $1.9 million on lobbying activities over a period of 43 months from 2008 to 2011.
About $1 million of that was earned by the company’s two in-house lobbyists, Joseph Pasetti and Victoria Sanville, over an 18-month period from 2010 until this year. But Solyndra has also had several big-name lobbying shops on its payroll, including established powerhouses Dutko Worldwide and Holland and Knight, which began representing the then-fledgling company in 2008.
This “green jobs” scheme just isn’t working out as planned. Taxpayers hold the bag.
NATIONAL JOURNAL: The Obama administration is in a race against the clock to close by month’s end more than a dozen renewable-energy loan guarantees totaling $9 billion. Of that, just over $3 billion would come directly from the federal government’s coffers.
The administration now has two weeks to finalize the process amid an escalating political battle over a federally backed solar company spiraling into bankruptcy and facing an FBI probe. President Obama once praised the company, California-based Solyndra, as “the true engine of economic growth.”
At a House hearing Wednesday, there was bipartisan concern about risking more taxpayer dollars on renewable energy projects that ultimately fail. While Republicans’ rhetoric was more heated, Democrats agreed it is a critical issue.
“Taxpayers have over $500 million at risk as a result of Solyndra’s bankruptcy,” said House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif. “We need to understand what happened and how we can avoid future losses.”
In 2009, Solyndra was the first company to receive a federal clean-energy loan guarantee as part of the stimulus package. The Fremont, Calif.-based maker of solar photovoltaic systems then received photo-op visits from Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, all touting the job-generating potential of solar and other renewable energy industries. But on Aug. 31, Solyndra shuttered operations, laying off its 1,100 workers while seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Under the Recovery Act that Obama signed into law in February 2009, the Energy Department’s loan guarantee office was given roughly $6 billion to help cover the financing of renewable energy companies applying for loans both with the Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank and with private lenders, such as banks. Congress has since peeled away about half of that for other purposes and left the department with just $2.4 billion for the renewable loan guarantee program.
That $2.4 billion allocated to the Energy Department pays for each renewable energy project’s “credit subsidy,” a fee worth usually around 10 percent of a loan and which helps defray costs if the loan fails. The Energy Department doesn’t disclose the credit subsidy rate of loans the government guarantees, so it’s unclear how much of that $2.4 billion remains.
STUNNING CLAIM: Obama White House pressured general to change testimony on new exploding scandal affecting U.S. national security
General had said that Obama donor’s new satellite broadband network might interfere with GPS systems the Pentagon needs to protect America
DAILY BEAST: The Pentagon has worried for months that a project backed by a prominent Democratic donor might interfere with military GPS. Now Congress wants to know if the White House pressured a general to change his testimony.
The four-star Air Force general who oversees Air Force Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.
The episode —confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee —is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.
Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone.
According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, officials said.
I didn’t know we were still kicking him around
DETROIT NEWS: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told a Little Rock audience Saturday that his time in prison brought a new focus to his life, one that does not involve running for office or returning to the city of his highly publicized mistakes.
“I’ve vacationed in the valley of the shadow of death, and I’ve learned to get back up,” he said in his first public appearance since his Aug. 2 release from prison.
He spoke at the kick-off for Philander Smith College’s Black Male Initiative, a student leadership, volunteer and tutoring program for men.
Kilpatrick, 41, was sent to jail in May 2010 for violating probation and failing to disclose assets that could have been used to pay $1 million in restitution he owed Detroit. That restitution was part of a plea deal he made in 2008 that also included his resignation as mayor and pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.
Saying he was “beloved in Detroit,” Kilpatrick said he had no plans to live there again.
“If I go back right now, I’ll win again,” he said, noting that he had no plans to run for mayor.