Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DiFiore named Chief Judge it's a good thing I don't ever appear before the Court of Appeals

But really what was Andy thinking?  This is the best we can do?

In case anyone has forgotten she was a complete disaster as Chair of JJOKE

A disaster.

But the Albany media is good at forgetting the past so that it can report the present and be outraged in the future.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Reflection or what took so long?

Thanksgiving always brings a flood of memories.  In this respect I guess I am no different for many many others.  I've got the family memories, both as a kid (my mother could not make a gravy to save her life) and as an adult with my own children to torture at the dinner table.  But since 2006 Thanksgiving day has always been a day when I take 10 minutes by myself, in my favorite chair and reflect on what the future holds.

It started in 2006 when I realized that Bruno, Silver and Spitzer were determined to end my career in government.  I was positive they had installed Paul Shechtman as Chairman of the old Lobby Commission to fire me.  And I knew he was smart enough to pull it off.  As I sat in my chair that Thanksgiving, kids and family having a wonderful meal with lots of noise and laughter, I could not have been more depressed.  I was absolutely certain I would never be able to earn the kind of living that would let us have a happy thanksgiving again (some dark shit huh?).

As it turned out I was able to outmaneuver Shechtman (he ended up being smart but a little wimpy in the PR department) and he resigned but Spitzer, Silver and Bruno still managed to get me out of government by abolishing the Lobby Commission and creating a brand new ethics agency that after years of turmoil, incompetence and disgrace turned into JJOKE and we know how well that has worked.  Karma caught up with Spitzer, Bruno and Silver in the form of indictments, trials and in Spitzer's case complete public humiliation  (that's the narcissist in me talking).  And by the time Thanksgiving 2007 rolled around I was back in that chair with an income that had doubled in the 2 months since I packed my bags at the Lobby Commission and a positive attitude that life was oh so much better in the private sector.  I still take 10 minutes every Thanksgiving to sit in that chair and reflect.  The chair is a little worse for wear but I'm going to always keep it as a reminder and I am secure in the knowledge that no matter what the powers to be in government throw at me in the future I can deal with it and thrive (that's what gives me that attitude that people that don't know me call arrogance).  This year was a little different though.

Instead of reliving the past and enjoying my good fortune and the misery of those that tried to harm me (and my family by extension) I thought about why government continues to think they solve the past problem by changing existing laws, rules or procedures in reaction to a recent event instead of proactively thinking about what will happen next and stopping it.  I noticed Cuomo is beefing up security at planned parenthood clinics as a RESULT of recent violence.  Why did it take recent violence to react?  The good government groups are calling for new ethics legislation as a RESULT of recent federal corruption cases. Why did it take recent corruption to react?  Every school shooting brings more calls for gun control. Wouldn't it be great if these politicians and groups could think about and tell us what is likely to happen before the event?  That would be useful.

It was with that thought that I met with JJOKE (at their request) to provide my insight into their most recent draft opinion on consultants.  An opinion prompted by the rise in power that was a RESULT of certain consultants being publicly identified as having perceived influence with unreported clients and politicians (most likely Berlin Rosen and Bill DiBlasio).  But rather than wait for the opinion to be published (which quite frankly will be a huge boon to my business) I offered my insight to help the opinion's author understand his own motivation in drafting it and the concomitant effect it will have on the regulated community and his own career.

I won't go into the legal realities of the opinion and it's enforceability (I'll leave that for paying clients) but I did discuss the motivation of JJOKE in issuing the draft.  If it's goal was to scare certain consultants into registering and disclosing their activity it will work but why use such a heavy hand?  You can acquire the same information and data by enforcement proceedings against lobbyists and clients that don't disclose their vendors on existing reports.  Every consultant involved in a lobbying effort, even the ones that sit mutely in meetings, is a lobbying expense that requires disclosure already.  I was told that certain consultants that "throw their weight around" are able to collect contingent fees and if they were registered they couldn't do that anymore.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  The prohibition against contingent fees has been the greatest single benefit to the lobbying community since politicians dim witted children.  If contingent fees were allowed every client would insist and every lobbyist would go bankrupt.  Lobbyists are successful about 10-15% of the time. (we ran the numbers at the old lobby commission do you think JJOKE has?)  Go ask personal injury lawyers that work on contingency if they could survive being successful on 10-15% of the cases they took.  Go ask the restaurants in town if they could stay open if only 10-15% of their customers were happy.  Ask the governor if his book publisher was happy with 10-15% of the governors books that were printed actually being sold.  And by the way if the folks at JJOKE understood the industry they would realize it's not contingent fees consultants make the money on, it's placing the ads, but this is what happens when government regulators without experience react instead of thinking ahead.

One last thought on contingent fees, much like source of funding, any client that wants to legally structure a contingent fee agreement need only give me a call. 

Every day is thanksgiving for me now that I've figured this game out.  But if the folks at JJOKE aren't careful they might need their own chair next thanksgiving to reflect on what happens when you react instead of thinking about future results.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Taking Notes

I got a chance to watch the commission meeting last night.  It was a tossup between watching the Titan/Jags football game or watch the JJOKE meeting.  I know I lead a boring life.  Fortunately I was able to finish the JJOKE meeting in time to see the Jags color rush uniforms.  You have to think the NFL must be asking the JJOKE brain trust for marketing advice.

Anyway just as striking to me as the baby shit brown uniforms was the number of JJOKE staffers with no real role to play at the meeting taking copious notes.  Over a million dollars a year in salaries in that room and only Monica and Martin were needed, yet all the rest were diligently taking notes.  What could they possibly have been writing?

Deb Novack is the secretary, it's her job to take notes to write the minutes.

The rest of them?  They don't need to be there so why bother taking notes?

If they want to create a record for review down the road I have a news flash for them  THE MEETING IS RECORDED YOU CAN WATCH AND REVIEW EVERY WORD ANYTIME YOU WANT.

Lucky for me I have great video editing equipment on my computer and the new camera angle provides a clear shot of the end of the table where the note takers sit (I couldn't see the notes of the overpaid under talented staff that sit against the wall but you could see they were scribbling away) so here is what my software allowed me to see.

Kevin Gagan's note pad stated "Don't say a word, you are making $160 large to be the executive director in waiting why speak, remain a man of mystery.  Where are Harford and Hamilton?  I said I was responsible for bringing them here but if that prick Grandeau finds out they are a couple I'm going to blame LT.  Hamilton is her law school buddy not mine.  Tell Martin that bow tie makes him look like Dr. Seuss.  Commissioners not happy with resumes for ED job.  No shit I threw out all the good ones.  I need that job otherwise I have to go back to the State Police and those cops hate me.  I should ask LT if I can join her and Ginsberg at Tax."

Lori Donadio's note pad stated "Why am I here?  I barely have enough knowledge not to stare into the camera with a vapid look on my face.  What does the word regulated mean?  Gotta look that one up.  Does Monica need more coffee?  Why is Horwitz rocking like a fat kid on a hobby horse?  I hope no one realizes I make $66780 and can't spell KAT oops CAT.  I don't think Marvin has pants on.  I'm going to keep staring into the camera until I see pants or his pecker.  OK those are pants.  I wonder where Harford and Hamilton are?  I bet they are together.  Why is Martin wearing a bow tie he looks like Pee Wee Herman."

Walt McClure's notepad stated "No comment, No Comment, I can't comment, The commission has no comment, No Comment.  Do you think anyone watching will notice my new watch?  This bitch is iced out.  I could never have worn something like this back at South Colonie High but now? wheeeee.  Martin's bow tie looks cute.   Just once I'd like to tell Grandeau to go fuck himself.  Horwitz is davening like he is at an orthodox bar mitzvah. No comment No comment $79k and all I have to do is say no comment?  this is awesome I wonder if I can afford an Alex and Ani bracelet?

Stephen Boland's notepad stated "I hate Jeanine Clemente.  2 + 2 =4.  Why is Gagan even here?  Guy's a paranoid control freak.   Why is Martin wearing a bow tie that clashes with his shirt? UGH  He looks like Winston Churchill.  Walt can't afford that watch I better audit our petty cash fund"

That's all I could get I'll try to snap some high res photo's myself at the next meeting.

After seeing the note taking I listened to staff and commissioners explain their thought processes on regulations and opinions.  Good lord these people are stupid and foolish.  Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.  Marvin once again made an excellent point that they shouldn't be issuing opinions that go beyond the statute but Horowitz stopped his manic rocking just long enough to state the most important fact of the meeting.  These opinion are guidance and no one can litigate them until an enforcement proceeding.  He thinks he is safe from the result of scaring the lobbyists, consultants and electeds until JJOKE decides which ones to prosecute or should I say until Cuomo does.  He may be right but I have an idea how to pin the tail on these jackasses.

I'm going to ask for a formal opinion on all the issues JJOKE has been wrong on lately but no one is willing to litigate with them about.  It will not be a hypothetical it will be based on real facts tailored to force JJOKE to state a position.  Best part is I control the facts because I am going to engage in activity that JJOKE claims will make me a lobbyist.  And I am not going to register.  Lets see if they bring an enforcement proceeding.  I bet they pussy out and never respond to my opinion request or start an enforcement proceeding against me.  I may go one step further and ask for the opinion on behalf of myself and all others similarly situated.

Let's see how smart these smart New York lawyers really are.

I'm betting they have more hair on there heads than they do on there asses.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nailed it

I told you on Monday what JJOKE would do on Tuesday when it came to that fundraising opinion.

My ability to predict JJOKE's actions is the reason I have too many clients.  I picked up a couple more in NYC on Tuesday which is why I missed the JJOKE shit show they call a commission meeting.  By the way did anyone notice they moved the camera angle so that "my" seat is no longer on camera?  Too funny, I may have to just start sitting at the table soon (when is my interview to be executive director?).

The Times Union's Chris Bragg had a piece today (terrible picture of Monica shows you what the TU thinks about JJOKE staff) that does a decent job of hinting at the behind the scenes actions related to this opinion (do you think he read the Monday blog?) but fails to hammer down on the most important issue, one deserving of a full blown investigation.  WHY WAS MONICA STAMM ASKING THE GOVERNOR, THE AG AND THE CONTROLLER FOR VERBAL COMMENTS?  The original request for comments was for written comments but only DiNapoli provided his comments in writing.  The AG and the Governor gave verbal comments to Monica, but what were they? what did they say? and why didn't Monica insist on getting them in writing?

The answer is simple.  The AG and the Governor prefer to have plausible deniability when JJOKE narrows the opinion.  But poor Monica was too honest when she told the commission in open session that she received verbal comments from the AG and the Governor.  My inside sources tell me the governors office is apoplectic that Monica was so honest and even more pissed that DiNapoli shoved it up there ass by providing written comments.

So now the opinion will stay bottled up until someone at JJOKE figures out how to modify it without looking like they are doing the governor's bidding.  That's a tough one.  I know how but they are not asking me.  Maybe during my interview I'll tell them.

Or they could dance with the one that brought them and ask Kevin Gagan what to do.  I'd love to hear him speak at a commission meeting and show us all why he is worth $160000.  It's even money now whether Gagan becomes the executive director or goes back to that State Police job they are holding for him.

One last thought on asking the effected parties for input on the opinion DO YOU THINK ELLIOT NESS ASKED AL CAPONE HOW TO WRITE THE TAX STATUTES?

Only in New York folks, only in New York. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kevin Gagan for ethics hero of the decade

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog praising JJOKE for writing a broad sweeping draft opinion limiting the way our statewide elected officials will be able to raise money.  You can read it here

In the blog I ask several questions that I now believe as a result of my numerous and varied resources within and without JJOKE I have answers to, such as:

The answer to this is a resounding no and trust me when I say both the legislature and the governors office were shocked and then major league pissed off once they figured out what it meant (no thanks necessary a large part of my audience is in the legislature and governors office)  Now of course neither the AG nor the Controller have appointments on JJOKE so who gives a rats ass what they thought even though they are impacted by it.  Especially the AG (think Trump complaint).  This is causing a lot of heartache at JJOKE over the last several weeks.  The legislature has no real voice on JJOKE at this time because the legislatively appointed commissioners are for the most part Skelos and Silver holdovers who have evidenced an independent streak and I am told on this draft opinion refuse to be persuaded to tone it down.  Now the gubernatorial appointees are a different matter they will do as they are told but they are still in the doghouse for not giving a warning to the Governor and his staff which answers the next question:

Not a chance they didn't even know it was being discussed.  This draft opinion was the brainchild of the JJOKE staff, specifically the soon to be executive director Kevin Gagan and his hand picked assistant John Harford who did the vast majority of the actual writing.  Now you might rightly ask how did a Cuomo lackey like Gagan do something this far reaching effecting the governor and not tell anyone on the second floor?  Only 2 ways that happens, either he was so politically inept he didn't consider the ramifications (in which case the Cuomo crowd will make sure if he becomes executive director he will not be allowed to wash his hands without clearing it by Linda Lacewell) or he truly is not a Cuomo lackey and was independent enough to basically tell the governor to f off by this opinion (if that is the case I'll withdraw my application and throw my support behind Gagan all he needs to do is have a cup of coffee and tell me that he knew what he was doing on this opinion and didn't care how it impacted Cuomo).

And lastly:

"Now of course the JJOKE group that wrote the opinion have no clue of what the real world is like so all the problems inherent in a sweeping opinion such as this will come flooding in and the opinion will never be issued but I need to know"

And here is where my sources tell me it gets really interesting.  With the draft opinion on the agenda to be discussed in open session at tomorrows JJOKE meeting the Gagan forces are doing all they can to modify the opinion and make it look like the commissioners are narrowing the reach as a result of comments from everyone but the parties that really care (the governor and the legislature)  As usual poor Monica Stamm has been tasked with cleaning up Gagan's mess and has been working overtime trying to get the commissioners to issue a much narrower opinion as a result of comments from the affected parties.  But all she really cares about is exempting the Governor from responsibility for what the agencies in the executive branch do.

Keep an eye on the next draft, if the legislative appointees stay rebellious the draft doesn't change and Monica will be forced to write guidelines to be imposed by the next executive director limiting the reach of the opinion, as to the governor.

If Monica gets the job done the draft will change and become far narrower and everyone will be told it was done to "provide clarity to the regulated community".  Someone remind me why the 2nd floor wants Gagan and not Monica to be the next executive director.

Rest assured when I am the executive director this opinion will be broadly interpreted, maybe even broadly enough to plug that LLC loophole everyone is talking about.


Monday, November 9, 2015

This makes it official

Holly Levy does actually work at JJOKE and I have applied to be the next executive director

To: ""

Subject: NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics - Executive Director

Date: Nov 9, 2015 4:38 PM

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics has received the materials you submitted in connection with the position of Executive Director.  Your materials have been forwarded to the Search Committee for consideration. 
Holly Levy
NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics
By materials I am assuming she ment my brochure and email application directing them to look at the opinions of the Lobby Commission and my blog for my writing sample.
If you want to see the email again you can find it here
Anyone want to guess how they avoid giving me an interview?  Blair Horner thinks they will use my statement that I will open my interview to the press as a basis for not interviewing me.  I'll keep you posted.
As to Holly Levy it took you 3 weeks 12 phone messages the threat of a formal complaint and a blog post to get you to acknowledge receipt of my application.  Check with Biben Holly see if that babysitting gig is still available because the second thing I do after I become the executive director is fire you.  The first thing is open an investigation into the JJOKE commissioners.  Now about that interview . . .

The Times Union - an editorial on ethics is as usual too little too late and too meek and mellow

The Times Union has written yet another editorial on ethics and specifically the failed ethics reform known as JJOKE

You can read it here

But it's basically just a luke warm rewrite of previous editorials like

or here where the Times Union stated in 2012 "it’s obvious that the governor and lawmakers must scrap the sham that is JCOPE and replace it with a truly independent board"

Compare that to todays editorial almost 3 years later  "The governor and lawmakers should make it a priority to improve on their imperfect work"

In reading the Times Union's opinion you could believe JJOKE has improved in the last 3 years  It hasn't.  The Times Union like most good government groups and JJOKE commissioners just can't remember the past so like Charly Brown they just keep landing on their ass when Lucy/Andrew pulls the football away.

This time they actually take Patty Salkin's poor excuse for a review panels work as legitimate   completely ignoring the nature of it's conflicts and lack of interest in properly performing it's function and build off of a deeply flawed and poorly researched report to say JJOKE needs improvement.  You were closer to the truth 3 years ago scrap JJOKE. 


In this case it will come down to the next executive director.

I've applied but can't even get JJOKE to acknowledge receipt of the application much less get an interview.

In case the Times Union crack editorial staff can't figure it out the next executive director will be Cuomo lackey Kevin Gagan.

Here's an idea compare Gagan to Grandeau and then ask JJOKE to do the same let's see what happens.


keep writing the same editorial for the next 3 years and I'll keep making bank and writing the same blogs I've been writing for the last 5 years.

On the positive side it does appear that while the idea hasn't changed the writing of the editorials is original which given Casey Seiler's reporting habits is a vast improvement

Casey "cut and paste" Seiler    Good nickname huh?