Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Democrats stealing from New York State

Savage says NY Dems caught with too may hands in the cookie jar.
Politicians caught collecting
Albany per diems when they're not
Last Updated: 10:49 AM, October 14, 2012
Posted: 1:59 AM, October 14, 2012
In Albany, politicians can make money in their sleep.
Claiming she spent a marathon 12 consecutive days in Albany on “legislative
business,” Queens Assemblywoman Vivian Cook pocketed $171 for each reported
overnight stay — a total $2,197 in taxpayer money from March 21 to April 1, 2010.
The Legislature was in session just three of those days — and Cook was absent
for all three, records show.
“Me? You’re kidding! No! I didn’t do that,” she told The Post.
“I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, and I don’t steal,” said Cook, whose nonprofit Rockaway
Boulevard Local Development Corp. prompted an investigation for allegedly
misusing taxpayer funds.
In 2010 and 2011, Cook collected a total $17,035 in daily and overnight stipends,
plus other travel expenses — on top of her $79,500-a-year state salary. During the
2010 legislative session, she missed 51 meetings of the Assembly, 63 percent of
the sessions.
“I was sick for a very long time,” she said of her absences, but could not recall the
She’s one of scores of legislators who claim more than $10,000 a year in “per
diems” — a daily payment lawmakers can collect if they sleep over in Albany or
travel more than 50 miles from home on legislative business.
The sleepovers add up. The Assembly and the Senate have socked taxpayers with
more than $32 million in travel-related expenses in the past
The Post obtained vouchers and receipts submitted by all Assembly members for
parts of 2009, 2010 and 2011 through a Freedom of Information Law request.
The per diem system grants state senators and Assembly members $165 a night,
reduced from $171 last year, for food and lodging. Lawmakers who stay in
apartments or second homes in Albany can still collect it.
If they don’t spend the night, they get a $61 per diem.
Those who drive can also get 55.5 cents a mile, plus repayment for tolls. Taxi, train
and plane rides are reimbursed. Some lawmakers submit travel receipts; many
But the policy requires no proof that they hit the hay in the capital.
In one case, Queens Assemblyman Bill Scarborough submitted vouchers claiming
$825 for spending five nights in a row in Albany: Sunday, March 13 to Thursday,
March 17, 2011.
That Thursday, he attended a town meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. at York College in
Jamaica, Queens, according to news accounts. Jamaica is three hours from Albany
by car.
“I may very well have gone to that meeting, turned around and gone back to Albany
that night,” Scarborough said. “If we arrive in Albany before midnight, we’re entitled
to put in for the night.”
Scarborough, chairman of the Assembly’s Small Business Committee, said he
attended meetings before going home again on Friday.
He was not required to submit any hotel receipts, and told The Post it was too long
ago to look for one.
“I don’t think I have to give you proof,” he said.
In 2010 and 2011, Scarborough racked up $59,085 in per diem payments, plus
other travel expenses.
The highest per diem collector is Long Island Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper. In
one week she submitted two $58 Amtrak tickets, one to Albany on Jan 17, 2011.
The return-trip stub to Penn Station is dated Jan. 19. But Hooper also claimed
$165 for spending the night in Albany on Jan. 19.
“That must be a mistake by Amtrak,” Hooper said. “I have never, ever put in forsomething for which I am not entitled.”
But she conceded she may have “messed up” that week’s voucher.
In 2010 and 2011, Hooper claimed $61,592 in per diems, and another $12,000 in
travel expenses.
In an ongoing probe, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is scrutinizing the travel records
of Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., who was indicted last year on
federal corruption charges.
Assembly and court documents show that Boyland in 2010 claimed multiple per
diems for work in Albany on days he met with undercover FBI agents in Brooklyn
and Manhattan to discuss bribes.
Boyland collected $46,685 in per diems in 2010 and 2010, plus at least $7,340 for
other travel. His lawyer, Michael Bachrach, declined to comment.
The system is ripe for abuse, said one Assembly member who asked to remain
anonymous, because lawmakers can claim expenses on days when there is no
session, or if they play hooky.
“You can spend a lot of time in Albany — or you could lie about it,” he said.
Fraudulent vouchers, which are signed by lawmakers, “may be a felony or
misdemeanor offense,” the Assembly travel policy states.
Gov. Cuomo may seek to end or curb per diems after the November elections,
when lawmakers are expected to seek a pay hike to $100,000 a year.
Additional reporting by Candice M. Giove

Source: NY Post

Monday, October 1, 2012

No Decency of Candor

No Decency of Candor
Start with the headline, which reads: "US ambassador to Libya dies at age 52." If you read only the bold print you might believe that Mr. Stevens died from a bad oyster or Foggy Bottom flu. In fact, the American representative was killed by Arab terrorists. "Murdered" would be a more accurate word. People "die" from natural causes, like old age or disease. Getting killed by religious cowards is another variety of death altogether -- different enough to deserve the decency of candor.
A sign of a healthy democracy is loud forceful disagreement

in the political discourse.

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