Monday, March 02, 2009

Just because it looks like quid pro quo doesn’t mean it is

President Obama’s pick for Urban Czar Adolfo Carrion
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion often received contributions just before or after he sponsored money for projects or approved important zoning changes, records show.

Most donations were organized and well-timed.
Benjamin Lesser and Greg B. Smith
We have a new Department of Urban Affairs as I reported on Friday. Today we have a new head of that Department he’s former Bronx Boro President Adolfo Carrion. Carrion starts his job, as President Obama’s Urban Czar, in a wake of speculation that he is up to his eyeballs in political corruption that would make even former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich blush.

In Carrion’s world pay for play or quid pro quo is just one great big coincidence and according to Benjamin Lesser and Greg B. Smith of there are an awful lot of coincidences in the way that Carrion conducts business in the Ghetto (or Urban area) we lovingly refer to as the New York Bronx. (see story)

Just by pure coincidence almost every building project that needs to be approved by Carrion, which means that millions of dollars of taxpayers money would be used to fund said projects, there are quite timely but unrelated donations that fill the coffers of the Carrion political machine.

Quite remarkable political talent wouldn’t you say? In fact so remarkable that such talent didn’t escape the eye of the President of the United States but just how did Mr. Carrion get pass that crackerjack team of vetters that the Obama administration is so proud of we’ll never know?

You remember the vetters in the Obama administration were supposed to guarantee that the Obama administration was to be the squeakiest cleanest most ethical administration in the history of administrations. (see previous post)

I guess pay for play or quid pro quo must not be an offense to the Obama administration. For that matter none payment of taxes doesn’t seem to bother them either, they must be reserving the vetting process for anyone who has ever had or has any ties to the Republican Party.

As the new Czar of Urban Affairs settles into the Obama administration today here are a list of the coincidences that the Obama administration obviously overlooked or didn’t feel that these appearances of political criminality were out of place in the Obama government.

• Last year Jonathan Coren and a partner wanted to build 166 units of affordable housing in Parkchester.
Coren, for the first time in his life, became a registered fund-raiser - for Carrion. He raised $2,577 from multiple donors in the three weeks before Carrion approved the project on March 26.

• A top source for Carrion's campaign cash comes from a publicly funded project to build 679 units of housing and a 14-story college tower in Melrose.
Top officials at the Atlantic Development Group, the project's developer, and Boricua College contributed nearly $70,000 to Carrion during the time the project, called Boricua Village, moved through the system
College President Victor Alicea has been a fund-raiser for Carrion. Alicea insisted all Boricua donations came from "individuals," not the college. "We're very careful about anything that could be construed as a tradeoff or a quid pro quo."
• In 2004, a real estate group moved to build affordable housing on the site of an old Mott Haven brewery on St. Ann's Ave. The project stalled.

In April 2007, dozens of employees of Jackson Development Group started donating to Carrion. There were 23 contributions in two months, including $1,000 from a construction worker.

By November 2007, 41 donations from Jackson employees to Carrion totaled $35,650. In May 2008, Carrion approved the project. Two months later, he announced he was sponsoring $3 million in taxpayer funds for the project.

• One of Carrion's largest donors and fund-raisers is Jose Velazquez, owner of Tri-Line Contracting Inc. of Manhattan. Between his employees and developers and other donors, he has raised $83,700 for Carrion.

Tri-Line is working at two of the biggest developments Carrion has championed, including the new Yankee Stadium.

Carrion signed off on it in 2005 with the caveat that the Yanks hire a big percentage of local contractors and workers. One of the contractors was Tri-Line, which is building a conference center and museum in the stadium.

• Developer Related Companies' subsidiary, BTM Development Partners, needed Carrion and the city Planning Commission to change zoning, modify height restrictions and approve permits for parking spaces.

As the project moved forward, the neighborhood railed about increased traffic and the impact the chain stores would have on local businesses. All the while Related executives wrote campaign checks to Carrion.

• In March 2008, Carrion sponsored $1 million in public funds for the Ader Group's plan to build 177 low-income rental units. On June 17, owner Israel Neiman gave Carrion $4,950, a donation Neiman said was "just coincidental."

For an administration that has promised to shun the very appearance of impropriety to bring Adolfo Carrion into the administration on the heels of the none vetting of Gov. Bill Richards, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder, Tom Daschle, and Nancy Killefer shows that President Obama never intended to run an ethical administration. He just said he would because he knew that is what you wanted to hear.

Note to Obama whatever you're doing in your vetting process do the opposite! You'll find it'll work better!

So much for honesty and integrity from Barack Hussein Obama, now that small matter of your original vaulted birth certificate would put us back on the path of integrity Mr. Obama! Why don’t you release it from under lock and key?