Hevesi Sentenced 1 To 4 Years In Prison (Updated)

Disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi was sentenced this morning received the maximum penalty — one to four years in prison — for his role in a massive pay-to-play pension scandal.

The sentencing had been postponed multiple times after Hevesi was hospitalized for poor health.

From NY1:

Disgraced former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was lead out of court in handcuffs today, after being sentenced from one to four years in prison for felony corruption charges.

Hevesi, who admitted to a role in influence peddling at the state pension fund, was supposed to be in court the week before, but was hospitalized for a medical procedure.

His attorneys asked for leniency, saying their 71-year-old client is in poor health.

Hevesi pleaded guilty last October to his role in a pension-fund scandal that engulfed nearly every aspect of Albany’s political culture — ensnaring lobbyist, political consultants and politicians. He had previously resigned in 2006 after an investigation found a state employee doubled as a chauffer for his wife.

Hevesi admitted to receiving free travel in exchange for a sweetheart $250 million pension fund investment.

His successor at the comptroller’s office, Tom DiNapoli, who has gone to pains to distance himself from the scandal by banning the use of “placement agents” in the office, said the pay-to-play culture “won’t be tolerated.”

Today’s sentencing of Alan Hevesi is a welcome and just conclusion to a years-long saga. Mr. Hevesi betrayed the trust of all New Yorkers.  His sentence is clear evidence that this type of criminal behavior will not be tolerated.

Since taking office, I have changed the way the pension fund does business so history cannot repeat itself. I have banned placement agents and pay-to-play practices, and I have increased transparency in pension fund transactions. But there is more that can be done.

The punishment for breaking the law while performing a public duty must include pension forfeiture and increased fines and sentencing. The pension forfeiture bill I proposed earlier this year would do just that. No public official who violates the public trust should be allowed to receive a taxpayer-funded pension.  Passage of my bill would be a
much-needed step in rebuilding the public’s confidence in its government.

Diaz Sr. FOILs For Black’s Compensation

Thanks to state Education Commissioner David Steiner’s quick turnaround on Dennis Walcott’s waiver request, former NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black is now officially out of the picture, but Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is quite done with her yet.

The Bronx Democrat’s office this morning released the following Freedom of Information Law request sent to the NYC Department of Education:

Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, New York 10007

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is a FOIL request for any and all information regarding the entire salary, benefits, and other compensation that New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black has received or will receive, including any severance or retirement benefits.

Should there be any portion of this request that is denied, please state the reasons for denying my request. A prompt response to my request is mandated by statute.

Respectfully,

Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz
900 Rogers Place
Bronx, New York 10459
(718) 991-3161

Black’s salary as chancellor was $250,000 a year, but she’s hardly hurting for cash now that she has lost that post. Mayor Bloomberg said Walcott will continue to receive his $213,000 deputy mayor salary despite the fact that he now has a new title.

Maloney To Host Hochul

A reader forwarded this invite to an April 26 fundraiser Rep. Carolyn Maloney will be hosting at her Upper East Side home for her would-be Democratic colleague, Erie County Clerk Cathy Hochul.

There was a lot of speculation before the NY-26 Democratic leaders settled on Hochul as their candidate in the May 24 special election about her ability to raise campaign cash, particularly in light of the fact that her GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, pledged to spend her own money to win the seat Chris Lee gave up after his Craigslist scandal.

In addition, businessman Jack Davis has said he’ll drop some $3 million of his own cash on his independent bid.

Hotline On Call reported this week that Hochul has raised more than $350,000 so far. The DCCC has yet to commit to assisting Hochul in her quest for a seat that 1) is in a GOP-dominated district, and 2) might not exist after the next round of redistricting.

The willingness of Maloney to help Hochul is a good sign for the candidate, perhaps signaling that Democrats outside the district are starting to take an interest in the race. Although, it would be better for her, of course, if DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, a Long Island congressman, was hosting this event.

Also on the host committee is former Congresswoman/NYC Comptroller Liz Holtzman and feminist/activist/author Gloria Steinem.

Hochul Invitation(2)

Here And Now

Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi is scheduled to be sentenced this morning.

The 71-year-old Hevesi faces the possibility of up to four years behind bars.

Hevesi has asked for leniency. The AG’s office has asked that he receive the maximum possible sentence.

Former NYSE Chairman Dick Grasso spoke publicly for the first time his possible 2013 NYC mayoral bid, which he’ll undertake only if 1) His nemesis Eliot Spitzer runs, and 2) NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn’t.

Grasso made his remarks at Wagner College on Staten Island.

Right-leaning members of the House GOP fired a warning shot at Speaker John Boehner by voting “no” on the budget deal that prevents a government shutdown.

Contract negotiations between the Cuomo administration and the state’s two largest public employee unions include talk of raising the retirement age.

CSEA and PEF will reportedly work behind the scenes to get Council 82′s 1,160 members to reject what Cuomo has called a “model” contract deal.

Cuomo is “open to talking” about his 2 percent property tax cap, but the Senate GOP doesn’t want to water it down.

Minority lawmakers are expecting Cuomo to “stand up” on rent control.

While being deposed in the discrimination case against Bloomberg LP, Mayor Bloomberg said he still believes that people who quit to work for the competition should “fail.”

More >

Extras

“When I see what Governor Cuomo is doing across the river, I think it’s true, I think we were separated at birth,” NJ Gov. Chris Christie said this morning at a Big Pharma conference.

Mayor Bloomberg, testy? Never.

Former Sen. Vincent Leibell knew the day he won the Putnam County executive race that he would be slapped with federal corruption charges.

Some elected officials have sweet taxpayer-funded rides.

A handful of upstate Democrats who voted “yes” on the stopgap budget last week voted “no” on the actual budget today.

Birther congressman joins wannabe birther presidential candidate at Boca Raton Tea Party tax rally.

Donald Trump complained about not being quoted in a column that quoted him.

Mort Zuckerman refutes Trump’s claim that he “saved” the Daily News.

What about Mitt Romney’s birth certificate?

Blair Horner’s imminent departure from NYPIRG is causing ripples at the Capitol.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to protect the privacy of military funerals.

Jonathan Tasini calls Arianna Huffington’s response to his class-action lawsuit “unhinged and disingenuous.”

School districts are scrutinizng every last state mandate in hopes of getting some relief.

Bloomberg celebrated “Poem in Your Pocket” day with his own “original poem.”

Chelsea Clinton is headlining the first fundraiser of a new gay rights group.

The Blind Wine Chick thinks Florida is a more important wine market than New York because you can guy vino in supermarkets there.

April 16 is Foursquare Day in NYC.

Ball Mails Obama On Emergency Radios

Sen. Greg Ball, a Hudson Valley Republican, is sending a letter to President Obama urging him to address the problem of emergency radio operating during an emergency, by making it a federal funding priority.

The letter comes from one of the more benign topics of Ball’s terrorism preparedness hearing held earlier this month, which included a discussion on Islamic radicalism and Shariah, or Muslim law.

Radio problems plagued first responders in the early moments of the Sept. 11 attacks, making it all the more difficult for fire, EMT and police crews to clear the towers before their collapse.

Ball writes in the letter:

Whether the problem is a technical one, a political one, a funding issue, or a collective action licensing problem, it is imperative to fix our radio interoperability problem once and for all, and to insure the safety of the lives of our first responders, and the millions of New Yorkers they protect. A continuation of a failure to address this situation is simply unacceptable.

DOC018

NY Republicans Stick With Boehner On Budget (Updated)

The 11th-hour budget deal that will keep the government funded through the end of September passed the House 260-167, with 59 Republicans breaking ranks with Speaker John Boehner to reject the agreement.

The defections by members who thought the $38 billion worth of spending cuts weren’t sufficient forced Boehner to rely on Democrats to pass the measure and prevent a government shutdown.

The entire seven-member (they’re down one since former Rep. Chris Lee’s Craigslist scandal) New York GOP delegation voted “yes” on the budget.

Twelve Thirteen New York Democrats joined Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in voting “no”, including: Gary Ackerman, Yvette Clarke, Joe Crowley, Eliot Engel, Maurice Hinchey, Brian Higgins, Carolyn Maloney, Charlie Rangel, Louise Slaughter, Jose Serrano, Nydia Velazquez and Anthony Weiner.

UPDATE: Somehow, I left Rep. Jerry Nadler, who’s probably about the biggest lefty in the delegation, off the “no” list. Mea culpa. So sorry.

Hochul Cheers House Budget Accord

Congressional hopeful Kathy Hochul likes what she sees in the just-approved federal budget compromise in the House of Representatives.

“It is only fair to ask would they have supported a budget compromise that kept essential services going or would they have supported a massive shutdown that would have delayed essential services to our veterans, our troops, our business owners, our students, our seniors, and to the American taxpayers? The lack of interest and care by Jane Corwin and Jack Davis has been disheartening and I hope they finally join my lead and support this budget compromise that will cut waste and get our economy moving forward.”

Hochul, who is competing against Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and independent Jack Davis, linked the compromise to what she said was her early support of the agreement that averted a federal government shutdown last week.

“From early on, I called for this compromise and challenged both Jane Corwin and Jack Davis to follow my lead. Today – six days later – neither candidate has yet to say a word,” she said.

Nearly 1,300 Buses Stopped In Safety Push

A month after the tour bus accident in the north Bronx that killed 15 people, the state has stopped 1,286 buses in “surprise inspections,” the Department of Transportation announced today.

“Bus drivers who don’t follow the rules as well as buses that are unsafe must be taken off the road so that New Yorkers can have confidence in the safety of the public transportation system,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “My administration is aggressively enforcing the laws governing bus safety and I commend the inspectors and their law enforcement partners for their stepped-up efforts.”

State officials said the highest number of violations occurred in the New York metropolitan region. Of the 302 inspections performed in the area since March 17, 55 drivers as well as 59 buses were taken off the road due to the violations.

In total, 124 drivers were cited and 96 buses were taken off the road.

The March 12 accident highlighted safety concerns over the tour buses. The driver of the bus was found to have a suspended license. Last month, the state stopped 164 buses in a safety crackdown, finding that more than 40 drivers had license violations.

Molinaro Throws Hat Into Dutchess Co. Exec Ring

Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, a Tivoli Republican, formally announced today he will run for county executive in Dutchess, formally kicking off the race today with an announcement in Poughkeepsie.

The two-term assemblyman has a new website as well, www.molinarofordutchess.com. Molinaro, a former mayor was long rumored to be a candidate for the post.

From his website:

Marc Molinaro’s number one priority is improving the quality of life for all those who call Dutchess County home. Marc has long advocated for lower taxes, reining in the size, scale and scope of government, sustainable economic development, smart land use decisions, and demanding greater government accountability, accessibility & responsiveness.

A h/t to Joe Spector at Politics on the Hudson who had this first and also reports that Molinaro Democratic challenger is 29-year-old Dan French, the Beekman town supervisor.

The two are seeking to succeed longtime County Executive Bill Steinhaus, who is retiring.