Code Enforcement in the State of New York and Outrageous Violations [video]

CODE VIOLATIONS SHOULD BE TREATED AS CRIMINAL!

Nod to FB – Clarkstown What They Don’t Want You to Know.

Rabbi Schwarz, Chairman Rockland County Illegal Housing Task Force, Addressed A Public Hearing On January 23, 2020 In Albany On Illegal Housing In Rockland County.

He spoke about greed, corruption, yeshivas, hatred, machetes, infection of adjacent municipalities, the ‘second floor’, Attorney General James, the Yiddish term for ‘bullshit’, the judiciary, handcuffs and political hacks.

It was a tour de force!

On the same day that Supervisor Specht and Democratic Chairwoman, Mona Montal, were holding the Five Supervisors Meeting on “Confronting Hatred” in Rockland County, Rabbi Schwartz was in Albany describing how they were not confronting greed and corruption in their own Town of Ramapo.

In the last election there were signs that read “What Happens In Ramapo Will Not Stay In Ramapo”. Those were condemned as anti-Semitic and as contributing to a rise of hatred in Rockland County. However, watch now as Rabbi Schwartz spells out what is NOT staying in Ramapo and why anger and resentment, NOT hatred, are rising in Rockland County.

Some quotes:

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Can Allegedly Demonizing Yeshivas co-Exist with Defending Against Violence?

Comments to Rabbi Avi Shafran’s Opinion in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

by LM

Below we have republished a portion of an opinion that appeared in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, written by Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel. We would like to thank the person who sent this our way, though we are certain he would not agree with our conclusions. Thankfully, there is a mutual respect for differing opinions. We thank him for that also.

There are a few points that should be made about Shafran’s opinion in JTA. The first is we believe you can criticize over-development and the draining of the public school system for the benefit of private yeshivas (and parochial schools) and still defend against anti-Semitism and resentment. The two are not mutually exclusive. While he refers to the links as “indirect” he spends an inordinate amount of time criticizing efforts to uphold educational standards, presumably albeit indirectly linking criticism to hate.

We take the position that only when these uncomfortable subjects are aired can the differences in perception (that often create resentment) be either resolved or peacefully tabled. One can agree to disagree so long as both sides can be vocal and respectful.  

Second, Safran’s comments about the criticism of the substandard Yeshiva education in many (but not all) Hasidic yeshivas is, in our belief misguided.  Contrary to Shafran’s opinion, a fair indictment of a school system that public money is also partially funding does not detract from defending the religious beliefs that the children who graduate from those yeshivas share. It is simply a criticism of the leadership and the political governmental system that allows the education of these kids to be neglected. If public money is being used to fund these yeshivas, even a single dollar of public tax funds, then they should comply to certain state mandates. To do otherwise is an unfair requirement on all taxpayers; and that does not even address the future tax burdens that stem from inadequate education.

If Shafran’s comments are to be taken to their extreme, then perhaps this country should allow schools for white supremacists, schools for radical Muslims, schools for the Church of Latter Day Saints, Scientologists, and an endless list, all without any oversight guaranteeing that the children have some level of conformity to basic subjects when they graduate. According to Shafran, if applied equally to all faiths, any criticism of any non-conforming schools, whatever the religious belief, is contrary to a peaceful co-existence. That is absurd. Demanding certain standards be met is not indicting an entire religious belief system. Rather, it is holding an educational system to a conforming standard. The United States is based upon a system of equality and laws should be upheld equally. For the yeshiva system in New York, equality has gone out the window.  

  

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The Rockland County, NY 5-Town’s Supervisor’s Meeting – [Video], Over-development, not Blanket anti-Semitism

Dear Readers:

Many of you have been reading incessantly about a rise in anti-Semitism, insensitive and/or hateful rhetoric, language, violence, etc. This issue has become a hot-bed topic in Rockland County, New York following the stabbings that occurred at a Rabbi’s home/shul on the 7th night of Chanukah.

Yesterday, January 23, 2020, the Supervisors of the 5 towns that comprise Rockland County, New York held a Supervisor’s meeting intended to be the first step in addressing the problems within Rockland County. The Supervisors addressed the attendees and then the attendees were broken out into about 15 groups, each marshaled by a moderator who then had 3 minutes to provide the findings to the entire audience. 

This blogger moderated groups 12, 13, 14 and 15 because they were short moderators.

We were asked to answer 2 questions (simplified here): 

  1. What are the 3 most prevalent problems within the County?

  2. What are some possible solutions?

Notably, anti-Semitism was not listed as the most eminent threat or significant problem in a majority of the groups. Rather, overdevelopment and unequal enforcement of zoning/land-use laws were deemed to be an overriding problem nearly uniformly throughout each group. That speaks volumes.

The most salient points expressed as problems were:

  1. Over-development (by far the first and most significant point)

  2. Unequal treatment within the many communities in all aspects of life: development, housing, education, services, governmental assistance, law enforcement and the enforcement of building and zoning codes

  3. Political corruption

  4. Discriminatory housing practices and segregation

  5. Education and ever increasing taxes

  6. Social Media and the lack of sensitivity, both from the English-speaking non-religious sites and those geared towards the religious community

A synthesis of the possible solutions is:

  1. Equal application of zoning and housing codes

  2. Equal treatment under the law

  3. Transparency by political and law enforcement officials

  4. A tempered approach to social media, greater sensitivity and a better use of language. Most groups did not think that government intervention in censorship was appropriate, rather they suggested that we need to better temper ourselves.

LostMessiah’s blogger can be seen from about 15:18 to 19:54 on the video.

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Deed theft, Brooklyn, NY, 80-Year Old Woman and a Myriad of Fraudulent Companies

$1M Bed-Stuy brownstone stolen from 80-year-old woman, DA says

May 22, 2019 Ned Berke

260 Clifton Place has been empty since a 2010 fire. Photo via Google Maps

Two alleged fraudsters swindled an 80-year-old woman out of her Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone valued at more than $1 million in the borough’s latest case of deed fraud, according to the district attorney.

Craig Hecht, of Long Island, and another unnamed suspect set up a convoluted scheme involving dummy corporations and falsified documents in order to steal the brownstone at 260 Clifton Place. Though the victim lived in the neighborhood for more than three decades, the property has been vacant since a 2010 fire.

“This defendant allegedly thought he could take advantage of an elderly homeowner’s absence to steal her house and sell it before she or anyone else noticed,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement.

Hecht and the other defendant allegedly created two companies reflecting the victim’s name in 2015then filed documents with the city indicating a transfer of the home to a third company, TDA Development, which they also controlled.

Hecht allegedly began shopping the property around to would-be buyers, and in November 2015 sold it from TDA to a buyer for $850,000. According to the district attorney, the defendants distributed the money through multiple accounts, with some sent offshore to Greece and more than $250,000 landing in an account owned by Hecht’s wife.

When the new owners of the home began construction on the property, a neighbor informed the real owner, who notified the district attorney’s office.

Hecht was charged with two counts of second-degree grand larceny and two counts of second-degree money laundering, and faces up to 15 years if convicted. The co-defendant has not been apprehended.

In March, lawmakers and housing advocates warned at a hearing organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams that Brooklyn is facing an emerging crisis in housing theft cases, including deed fraud.

 

 

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The Housing Market – Increasingly Controlled by Private Equity – Creating a Crisis [audio]

It’s not just the market in your city. Or your neighbourhood. Or your budget or financial situation. There’s a shadowy global financial practice at work that is fuelling the housing crisis in cities around the world. And nobody knows how to stop it.

Today we’ll explore the shady-but-legal practice of private equity firms approaching housing as a commodity for investment at scale, in cities around the world, including Canada. What happens when a dwelling that should be a forever home for a family becomes just a trade chip amongst tens of thousands of others, to be bought and sold solely based on profit margin? Nothing good, you would imagine. And you’d be right. But can cities and governments figure out a plan to stop it?

GUESTS: Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing; and Fredrik Gertten, documentary filmmaker

(You can watch the trailer for their film, Push, and find out where it’s playing, right here)

 

Rechnitz, Rivington, JCOPE, Care One, Podolsky and Democratic Kingmakers – De Blasio’s Sordid Campaign Finances

Dear Reader:

In our view, when someone donates to a campaign, to the legal limits of that campaign, the politician is beholden.

Politicians, lobbyists and the kingmakers of New York know how the system works. A person can legally donate to the Democratic Committee, to de Blasio’s campaign bids as mayor and now as a potential Presidential candidate, to the not-for-profits associated with the Mayor and to other small organization associated with the mayor. None of those donations is illegal. To the best of our knowledge, even if all roads lead back to de Blasio, even if each penny somehow washes through de Blasio’s hands like sands in an hourglass, the donations are still quite legal, but are they really?

If when grossed-up the donations are all legal, in our view when taken as a whole, the gross-up of the aggregated proceeds of those donations may amount to a form of legal bribery. It should be stopped. We assert further that the aggregated proceeds of the donations could amount to a form of money laundering and conspiracy and while it may be legal (or not) we are most certainly not sure it is ethical.  

As a political matter, De Blasio’s loyalties, and those of each of the organizations from which he obtains financial assistance, must naturally rest with the person who has a shekel here, a dollar there, even if each was given legally. And, we don’t see how it is not a conflict of interest when there is a person within the entire structure that sits on multiple boards or within the rank and file of multiple organizations with which de Blasio works and from which he gains his political clout (and perhaps his legal or campaign advice).  A contract here, a faulty appraisal there, the closing of an entire hospital center for luxury redevelopment, leaving people on the streets, all legal – “ish?”

We posit that if the people involved in the multiple organizations are also those chosen to make kings out of Judicial hopefuls, to destroy careers when necessary, to allocate money to political hopefuls and the list goes on, there can be nothing but a conflict of interest.

Someone should be paying attention lest New York, more specifically Brooklyn, sink into the abyss of corrupt G-dfather like politics.   

Following the money…. will keep you posted.

 

De Blasio’s history of campaign finance scandals

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is no stranger to fundraising scandals, even if the allegations never fully stick. Just last week, The City reported on a previously undisclosed investigation by the city Department of Investigation into potential conflict of interest violations in relation to de Blasio’s fundraising. Earlier this month, the mayor received scrutiny for receiving donations from the lawyer at the heart of a controversial real estate deal between the city and shady landlords.

Here are the other times de Blasio’s fundraising tactics have gotten him into hot water:

Federal campaign finance investigation

In 2013, de Blasio set up a nonprofit called the Campaign for One New York to support his agenda. The now-defunct organization came under federal investigation for possible campaign finance violations in 2016. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York subpoenaed thousands of emails and documents from the mayor, his aides, donors to both his 2013 mayoral campaign and the Campaign for One New York to see if donors received favorable treatment from the de Blasio administration. The investigation led to the indictment of two de Blasio donors who became cooperating witnesses – restaurateur Harendra Singh, who admitted to attempting to bribe the mayor through straw donations made to his actual campaign account, and real estate developer Jona Rechnitz, who pled guilty to conspiracy charges and later testified about his close relationship to de Blasio and other benefits as a result of his donations and fundraising. At the investigation’s conclusion in 2017, federal prosecutors did not press charges against de Blasio, but did say that he acted on behalf of donors who sought favors.

Rivington House lobbying

De Blasio and his administration received extensive scrutiny from both New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the city Department of Investigation for how the city handled the sale of Rivington House, a former nonprofit health care facility, which is now being developed for residential purposes. A for-profit nursing home company, Allure Group, bought the property in 2015 and paid the city $16 million to lift a deed restriction that required the property to remain a nonprofit health care facility, with the expectation that the company would instead build a for-profit nursing home. Instead, Allure sold the property to Slate in 2016, which plans to convert the building to residential use and build condos. The city admitted that it had been “misled” by Allure. Prominent lobbyist and frequent de Blasio donor James Capalino represented both the original owner and Slate. Capalino steered $40,000 to de Blasio 2017 reelection campaign and cut a check for $10,000 to Campaign for One New York after pressuring the city to change the deed.

Around the same time, de Blasio also made headlines for a questionable fundraiser hosted by Suffolk Construction in Boston, a company that is currently looking to expand its business in New York City and recently hired de Blasio’s former public housing commissioner Shola Olatoye. De Blasio did not publicize the fundraiser and did not disclose the host when asked by reporters – but everything was still above board, he later argued, even if the lack of transparency made it seem like de Blasio was “violating the spirit” of his own promise not to accept campaign cash from donors with business before the city, as WNYC’s Brian Lehrer saidwhile interviewing the mayor.

State campaign finance investigation

The state also investigated the Campaign for One New York, although it took a more narrow purview and focused specifically on de Blasio’s fundraising efforts on behalf of state Senate Democrats in 2014, which was only one part of the federal inquiry. State prosecutors, in conjunction with federal prosecutors, sought to determine if de Blasio attempted to circumvent campaign contribution limits by giving donations solicited by de Blasio to smaller county committees, which have no contribution limits. Rechnitz testified that both Ross Offinger, a former campaign fundraiser for de Blasio, and the mayor personally asked him to donate over $100,000 to bolster those efforts. Like in the federal investigation, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. did not press charges against the mayor in 2017, but did say that while there was not enough evidence to indict de Blasio, his actions “appeared contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”

 

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