Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Other Shoe

I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.
-- Harry S Truman (1884 - 1972)

As the Monty Python players famously remarked, “No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.” Similarly, in the Hamptons economy, which is driven by real estate, no one ever expected the kind of financial problems like those in California and Kansas. Still fewer expect the kind of dire financial problems about to hit New York – not to mention the Hamptons.

While the current difficulties were clearly predictable several years ago, it is only now that there is a sense if dire fiscal eventualities, that will soon be upon us. Manhattan is no exception. With a predicted loss of 275,000 jobs on Wall Street; the disappearance of Investment Banks –-which was the driver of the worldwide expansion of money and credit; and virtual elimination of mortgage lending – a one to two year recession may take five years to play out. There are those who think that this country will not recover from this bout of deflation, which may turn into hyperinflation from printing all of those trillions for bailouts, until the early 2020’s.

The Spring selling season in the Hamptons has all of the earmarks of a temporary lift, which will last 3 or 4 months. Small properties, those in the $300,000 to $500,000 are starting to sell. Larger properties are sitting with no activity.

And, while there are some rentals, local businesses in the Hamptons will face stiffer competition and budget conscious tourists. The Town of Southampton may need Federal money to remain viable. The “business-as-usual” trend towards increased fines, increased taxes and harassment of New Yorkers may not be a good idea in these economic times.
The immigrant problem, which created lots of bad blood and a very negative attitude, will be solved by economics. Everyone is leaving town due to lack of work.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Freedom of the Press

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
--Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

In Suffolk County there have been numerous Federal investigations into corruption over a period of decades – all of which were unsuccessful. One possible reason for this is that there was no corruption.

The other possibility is that it is so entrenched that the circle-the-wagons mentality, which maintains an elite club of crooked D.A.’s, repressive Police, bought judges and fearful media, makes Federal prosecutions very difficult. Political enemies must be willing to pay the price in Suffolk’s “Democracy.”
The Marty Tankleff case, for example, which the SoHo Journal has been writing about for several years is an example of how an innocent individual was targeted and deprived of almost everything we hold dear in this best of all possible New York counties. From the Suffolk D.A. on down the chain, including prosecutors, judges, and police – do not like to be called out on their behavior. Retaliation is the political norm in the Hamptons.

Currently there is more press freedom in the former Soviet Union than is tolerated in Suffolk County.

And, there is very little in the way of opposition in the media. True Journalism is becoming a dangerous profession. Bloggers write at their own risk.

In Russia and Somalia they shoot people for writing the truth.

In this country they indict them for anything that will get headlines.

As a result of numerous articles that exposed the shameful attempts to keep Marty Tankleff in prison for a crime that he did not commit; commentary on the cover-up and involvement in that travesty by the current D. A. Thomas Spota; the series of blogs by this writer exposing racism in the Hamptons and complicity by the D.A.’s outpost in Justice Court; and, as a result of the unconstitutional behavior by the Town of Southampton in dealing with New Yorkers, property owners and Latinos who live in these properties –- the Suffolk County D.A. ordered and executed a raid on the offices of the SoHo Journal and this blogger. It was a bold effort ordered by Spota to teach journalists that anyone who criticizes him or his corrupt administration can be reached with the aid of the New York City Police Department.
At least 20 Suffolk County Detectives with automatic weapons, supported by three 1st Precinct police including Sgt. Morales conducted the raid.

Business records were taken, personal property and valuables were confiscated and Detectives, who were seeking to silence any opposition to political corruption in Suffolk County and the Hamptons, removed computers containing articles and publication drafts. A child’s cell phone and an artist’s computer were also taken.

Detective Josef Miceli, of the D.A.’s Detectives division -rapidly becoming known to be an individual closesly associated with the corrupt political structure and repression - led the raid.

Miceli is a zealot run by Spota, who has fostered indictments and phony confessions from little old ladies, blacks and poor people for non-criminal violations – (such as the “Star Program” tax deductions). Convictions are obtained by threats of imprisonment and the impossible cost to fight a criminal complaint - which supports the D.A.’s “conviction rate” and subsequent budget demands for law enforcement. Detective Miceli, acted on a phony “tip” initiated by a former police officers working with Town Attorneys (who have already been sued in Federal Court for targeting and retaliation), in attempting to shut down the publication’s offices.

During the raid, one glock-weilding Detective stated, “You don’t like police in this magazine, do you?” as a SoHo Journal was picked up.

Well, Hello! Wonder why you would say that, hey fella?

You’re here for what, suppression of Free of Speech?

As Sol Wachtler once said, “district attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that 'by and large' they could get them to 'indict a ham sandwich'." And, of course, that’s the plan.

As has been shown in “The Terror” during the days of Josef Stalin, pressure by the State using its unlimited resources can force confessions and threaten to create crimes where none ever existed.

Soon, the show trials will begin anew in America. Anything can be made to appear to be a crime in Suffolk County – especially against one is speaking the truth.
For eight years, civil rights and the Constitution have been whittled away by George Bush – and one can only hope that that will now change under Obama.

This is the current state of our Democracy in the Hamptons.

Freedom-loving tourists and New Yorkers, especially those who believe in Constitutional rights, should stay in Manhattan. Let the Suffolk politicians pay their own bills as they arrest anyone who criticizes them.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Just One More Question . . .

Every culture has its distinctive and normal system of government. Yours is democracy, moderated by corruption. Ours is totalitarianism, moderated by assassination.
-- Unknown Russian

Now that we have learned that $19 Million dollars is missing from the Town of Southampton, the question becomes – where is it? And when was it missing?
For those of you who have not been following the handwringing, remember that real estate taxes -- the money that pays for this government -- is severely reduced and likely to partially evaporate. California can't pay its bills, New York City is about to follow suit and the Town of Southampton may be an economic disaster area before the end of this summer. It should not be lost on anyone that Wall Street drove the economy and paid for the Hamptons government. It should also not be lost on anyone that Investment banks drove the Wall Street machine -- and that they no longer exist.

Of course, if you read between the lines, it’s not so much a question of where that missing Southampton money is now. It is question of how long it has been missing and whether the money was being massaged over the last several years compliments of nearly a decade of Republican “management." Can we be surprised by a group of buddies fed by Masterson’s highway department and his contracts for Town highway contracts and a Planning Board run by a developer named Zizzi? Now that Heaney is carefully ensconced in one of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s mindless jobs to save his lifestyle, will the cover come off the can of worms?

Richard Blowes resigned (was fired?) today from his job and a few other heads may roll. According to Kabot he will focus on finding the $19 Mil.

Instead of asking Blowes, perhaps Heaney and the Republicans can help them find the money. The cell tower and cash on the front seat comes to mind in the last Federal investigation.

According to sources in the Blowes matter, Charlene Kagen who is mentioned in the news reports and who was the former comptroller maintained that Blowes was incapable of reading a spreadsheet. His salary was $118, 000 and he had refused to allow her to train her successor (the Town will now probably hire her back as a consultant to plow through the mess). She is currently Comptroller, Town of Brookhaven but was not able to be reached for comment.

Cheryl Kraft, head of Code Enforcement was also demoted and there may be some changes coming from that direction as well. Her salary was reduced to “only” $114,000. Perhaps, if the Town needs to do a Ch. 11 filing at some point – considering all of the off-budget legal fees defending against unconstitutional behavior – she may be asked to get lost.

Or, perhaps, Obama’s Justice Department will find the racist evictions signed off on by the Justice Court in tandem with the Town Attorney’s office -- might become interested in the unconstitutional behavior there as well.
Just to keep it interesting, George Guldi, former Suffolk County Legislator has thrown his hat into the ring. There are quite a few happy voters and, surprisingly, a few sour faces in the Suffolk County Democratic Party hierarchy. We’ll keep you posted.

Southampton Village Police Chief Wilson apparently has been spotted looking for a job in Las Vegas. That could be interesting. The motivation for that has not yet been established. It might be hotter here than there.

Seems that the Appeals court has found that D.A. Spota’s hounding of nurses who quit their jobs because of abuse -- by threatening criminal action against them and their attorney is a little too much like Stalin’s moves in the Great Terror during the 1930’s. As the appellate court ruled, a synopsis by Mitchell Rubinstein wrote:

“Both the lawyer and his clients [were] criminally charged with endangering the welfare of critically ill pediatric patients and related crimes because the nurses resigned en masse without notice. You might think that such a case could not arise in Twenty-First Century America, but in 2007 that is exactly what occurred in Suffolk County New York and resulted in a New York appellate court having to prohibit the criminal prosecution of both the nurses and their attorney. Matter of Vinluan v. Doyle, ___A.D.3d___, 2009 WL 93065 (2d. Dep't. Jan. 13, 2009).”

They don’t call Suffolk County a Police State for nothing.