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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Saturday, August 29, 2009

    NYC Focus: A Reminder About David Yassky's Corrupt Connections

    Watching Kieth Olbermann last week I noticed there are many ads by local politicians running for office. But the ad that got my wife yelling at the TV was David Yassky's weasely ad.

    Yassky is claiming he will close loopholes and watch every dollar the government spends, yet those of us who are actually in his district knows he has NEVER watched where dollars went unless they bought him endorsements. I think, in honor of Yassky's latest ad, I should remind people of a couple of sleazy moves Yassky has done that shows he either can't keep track of dollars at all or knows very well where dollars go and uses them to buy political favors. Let me repost what I wrote about Yassky's ties to scandals back in March:

    The Beatles song goes "Money can't buy me love," but that is a concept unfamiliar to Brooklyn politics. Around here it's all about money, endorsements and favors.

    Former Councilman Steve DiBrienza is crashing and burning because when he left office he managed to get his City Council colleagues to use city money, filtered through a fake non-profit that no one but DiBrienza seems to know about, to pay for DiBrienza to not only keep his old district office but also pay DiBrienza and his cronies salaries for doing nothing as far as anyone can tell. I have taken Gifford Miller and Christine Quinn to task for this misuse of taxpayer money because it happened on their watches. But I also have made reference to rumors that David Yassky also participated in this scam to the tune of $40,000.

    The Brooklyn Paper has picked up on this Yassky-DiBrienza connection, though they discuss Yassky giving $15,000, probably a more accurate figure. But they also pinpoint the reason for Yassky's pandering to DiBrienza with taxpayer money: payback for an endorsement. From the Brooklyn Paper:

    Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), for example, requested $15,000 for DiBrienza’s group right after DiBrienza endorsed him for Congress in 2006.

    Yassky told The Brooklyn Paper that this out-of-district donation to DiBrienza’s group was not a kickback or a quid-pro-quo, but voters will certainly raise their eyebrows.

    Now Yassky funneled city money to DiBrienza right after DiBrienza endorsed him for his failed bid for Congress in 2006. Yet it isn't payback, according to Yassky. Problem is, this isn't the only time something like this happened. I wrote back in 2006 about another case of Yassky proposing city money right after getting an endorsement. Quoting the Brooklyn Paper again:

    Yassky bill would push $3M to Ratner crony
    By Ariella Cohen
    The Brooklyn Papers

    City Councilman David Yassky is under fire for asking city taxpayers to underwrite a promise that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner made to a handful of community organizations.

    Under the provisions of a "community benefits agreement" negotiated by Ratner and the groups, the developer and his supporters pledged to create a job-training program.

    Thus far, Ratner has given $285,000 towards that worker-training program, which is being administered by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD).

    Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) now proposes a city contribution of $3 million--more than 10 times what Ratner's given...

    Experts on CBAs thought the Yassky bill was misguided.

    "[Public funding] usually doesn't happen after the CBA is signed," said Roxanna Tynan, a spokeswoman for the LA Alliance for a New Economy, which was involved in a landmark CBA in that city...

    Critics were quick to point out that Yassky submitted the budget request after BUILD President James Caldwell and other CBA signatories endorsed his bid to succeed retiring Rep. Major Owens (D-Crown Heights)...

    So, BUILD President James Caldwell endorses Yassky and immediately afterwards Yassky proposes an unorthodox public funding (to the tune of $3 million of our taxpayer money) of BUILD. At about the same time, Steve DiBrienza endorses Yassky and right afterwards Yassky arranges $15,000 for DiBrienza's fake non-profit (which did nothing but paid salaries to DiBrienza and his cronies) even though it was out of Yassky's district. And Yassky wants to be the guy to keep an eye on the City's money???

    And I always wondered why Yassky endorsed John Sampson's run for Brooklyn DA when Sampson's main campaign promise was to get indicted Party Boss Clarence Norman off the hook. I can only imagine that money or other favors exchanged hands for so-called "reformer" Yassky to endorse someone so central to the Clarence Norman machine. Let me remind people that Sampson lost and Clarence Norman is now in jail. Yet Yassky favored Sampson, which suggests he approved of trying to get Norman off the hook.

    To me this suggests three corrupt bargains Yassky has clearly been a part of. How many more such corrupt bargains are out there that Yassky was part of that we don't yet know about. Keep these scandals in mind as you watch Yassky's latest commercial. Also keep in mind Yassky is running a distant third in the race for Comptroller, so it seems like no one really is buying his bullshit.


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