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The City's plan for spending federal disaster recovery aid has been approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The first $1.7 billion in federal funding will be released this summer. Most of the funds, $648 million, will go to repairing homes and strengthening them against future flooding. There is also funding for low income rentals subsidies, city infrastructure and loans for businesses. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and HUD secretary Shaun Donovan are scheduled to announce the plan's approval today at City Hall. Those looking for grants will be able to apply by calling the city's 311 help line or by going to nyc.gov.
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Yesterday the names of 9 individuals caught on wiretap by Sen. Shirley Huntley were made public. Six of those individuals were sitting Democratic State Legislators. The list includes already-indicted Sens John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and their colleagues Sens. Jose Peralta, Velmanette Montgomery, Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Eric Adams. Two political operatives were also taped as well as Councilman Ruben Wills. Huntley, who was facing her own legal troubles, invited pols to her home under the ruse that she had a broken ankle and then recorded them. Taped parties reacted in different ways to finding out their names were on the list. Officials said eight one of the recorded parties are under investigation for wrongdoing. Sen. John Sampson was indicted earlier in the week on embezzelment charges and he is just the latest in a long line of state legislators facing federal indicments. Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to convene a Moreland Commission if legislators don't pass major elections and ethics reform.
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“I am confident that the authorities will find, if they have not already done so, that I have engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever,” state Sen. Jose Peralta said in a statement in response to revelations that he was one of nine people wiretapped by convicted Sen. Shirley Huntley.
Sen. Eric Adams and Councilman Ruben Wills both made statements saying they were not being investigated or not aware of any investigations.
Peralta's statement does not make the same claim.
“I have not been contacted about any investigation. I believe deeply in transparency and the pursuit of justice — and that is why I committed 20 years of my life to law enforcement,” Adams said in a statement. “I am more than willing to help with any investigation.”
You can see video of Wills' statement here.
City Councilman Ruben Wills' name appears on a list of wiretapped politicians in a sentencing memorandum for former state Sen. Shirley Huntley. Speaking at City Hall after the court document was unsealed today, Wills said his attorney assured him that he is not the focus of a corruption investgation. Here's a video of his comments.
Sen. Shirley Huntley was having trouble with the FBI so she called up her colleagues and had them over to her house — to wiretap them.
According to court documents, Huntley was hoping to win favor with prosecutors when it came to her corruption case.
Today a judge unsealed Huntley's sentencing document unveiling a list of those she helped record for the FBI. They include several sitting Democratic Senators, a couple political consultants and a sitting Council member. Prosecutors have indicated that at least one of the people named on the list is not under investigation.
So who are these lawmakers and political operatives?
Lets start with the usual suspects: Sens. John Sampson of Brooklyn and Malcolm Smith of Queens.
The State Legislature seems to be a in rush to get out of town.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon SIlver has cancelled today's scheduled session. "Why?" you ask. Well, for ethics training of course!
Sort of. The Assembly has been scheduled to undergo ethics training today for sometime but the session was going to go on later in the day.
However, it was decided the ethics training could run late.
Meanwhile, the Senate has called off session for Monday and Tuesday citing the Jewish Holiday Pesach Sheni.
The names of elected officials secretly recorded by disgraced ex-State Sen. Shirley Huntley will be revealed this afternoon, thanks to a judge's ruling. Nine were recorded and eight are under investigation. Six of those being investigated are politicians, including Sen. John Sampson, who was arrested earlier this week. One of the charges Sampson faces is embezzling $440,000 from sales of foreclosed properties, and this has revealed a flaw in the way foreclosed homes are being handled. State officials are now looking at how the problem could be addressed. Sampson had tried to plant a mole in the Brooklyn DA's office to find out if he was under investigation, but that mole turned out to be an informant. His arrest may further dampen Democrats' chances at controlling the chamber.
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A judge has ruled that the names of eight people who spoke on wiretaps with former state Sen. Shirley Huntley can be made public tomorrow.
Huntley, who pleaded guilty to funnelling tens of thousands of dollars in public money to a bogus charity that she operated, wore a wire for federal prosecutors for several months last year.
What makes Huntley's case so interesting is that prosecutors are arguing that the names should not be released because doing so could compromise ongoing investigations. Six of the eight people Huntley spoke to while wearing a wire are elected officials.
Judge Jack Weinstein wrote in his ruling that he isn't worried that revealing these names will ruin any cases.
"Every legislator who has conversed with this defendant will necessarily assume that he or she wasrecorded under the supervision of the FBI," he wrote. "There will be no surprises to the potentially accused by the revelations of their names. Interference with ongoing investigations will be of almost no significance."
New York City Councilman James Sanders Jr. is imploring Speaker Christine Quinn to bring a stalled paid sick leave bill to a vote. "There is nothing harder to stop than an idea whose time has come," the councilman said in a recent interview with the Gotham Gazette.