At Least Wieseltier had the decency to be “Profoundly Sorry” – Offenses Against Women

leon-wieseltier4

Leon Wieseltier Admits ‘Offenses’ Against Female Colleagues as New Magazine Is Killed

 

Leon Wieseltier, a prominent editor at The New Republic for three decades who was preparing to unveil a new magazine next week, apologized on Tuesday for “offenses against some of my colleagues in the past” after several women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate advances.

As those allegations came to light, Laurene Powell Jobs, a leading philanthropist whose for-profit organization, Emerson Collective, was backing Mr. Wieseltier’s endeavor, decided to pull the plug on it.

“Upon receiving information related to past inappropriate workplace conduct, Emerson Collective ended its business relationship with Leon Wieseltier, including a journal planned for publication under his editorial direction,” the organization said in a statement on Tuesday. “The production and distribution of the journal has been suspended.”

A spokesman said Emerson Collective would not elaborate further on the nature or source of the information it had received. But stories about Mr. Wieseltier’s behavior are now surfacing in the aftermath of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults and harassment of women.

Over the past week, a group of women who once worked at The New Republic had been exchanging emails about their own accounts of Mr. Wieseltier’s behavior in and out of the magazine’s office in Washington, according to one person who has seen the confidential chain and was granted anonymity to describe its contents.

 

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“For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” he wrote. “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them I will not waste this reckoning.”

See the article in its entirety here.

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The Mayor, Astorino, anyone else for sale?

rechnitz

De Blasio donor’s shocking testimony: $100K bought me the mayor

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Rechnitz — appearing in the bribery trial of former city corrections-union chief Norman Seabrook — first dealt with questions about pay-to-play allegationsinvolving him and Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

He said he and businessman pal Jeremy Reichberg targeted the cops in the beginning, doling out gifts and cash in lieu of favors.

Soon, “We had the police going for us — and now it was time to get into politics,” Rechnitz said.

In his first meeting with de Blasio fundraiser Ross Offinger after de Blasio won the Democratic primary in 2013, Rechnitz and his pals — including Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg and Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers — made the rules clear, Rechnitz said.

“We’re going to be significant contributors, but we want access,” Rechnitz, 34, said the group told Offinger. “When we call, we want answers.

“We’re one group, and we expect a lot of access and influence.”

And they got it, Rechnitz said.

De Blasio soon visited Rechnitz at his office and handed the real-estate investor his personal cell-phone number and e-mail address.

“He said, ‘Keep in touch’ and [that] he really appreciated my friendship,” Rechnitz said.

Next thing you know, Rechnitz was talking with the mayor once a week, and Rechnitz was calling Offinger every time he had a problem that needed to be fixed, including a massive water bill for a friend, violations over a renter’s subletting one of his residences on Airbnb and a request to delay his wife’s school’s closing by a month.

Prosecutor Martin Bell asked Rechnitz whether Offinger did “in fact have the sort of pull” that Rechnitz and his friends were expecting in exchange for their contributions.

“Yes,” Rechnitz replied.

Bell asked, “How did you come to realize that?”

Rechnitz said, “Whenever we would call him for access or for a favor, we were getting the response that we expected and the results we were expecting.”

Rechnitz said he secured a spot on de Blasio’s inauguration committee thanks to his efforts to raise $100,000 for his mayoral campaign.

Rechnitz was also offered a spot on the mayor’s transition committee, but he turned it down after de Blasio rejected Reichberg for a vacancy due to diversity issues, he said.

In just one hour of testimony, Rechnitz painted a picture of a city — and beyond — completely ruled by money.

Rechnitz said Astorino gave him and Reichberg positions as police chaplains in exchange for their financial contributions — even though neither of them are rabbis or priests.

This landed them parking placards, among other perks.

Rechnitz also told a story about the time Astorino approached him with a picture of a Rolex watch and asked for helping procuring it.

“I told him I’d be happy to give it to him,” Rechnitz said, prompting Astorino to agree to pay for between $1,000 and $2,000 of the watch, with Rechnitz paying for the rest.

The government witness estimated the watch was worth as much as $10,000.

When it came to the cops, Rechnitz said, he and Reichberg were running the show — doling out gifts and cash to cops in exchange for favors, including ticket-fixing and police escorts to funerals.

He named a slew of cops — everyone from Phil Banks to James Grant to Eric Rodriguez — and talked about the time the cops, together with the Port Authority, shut down large portions of the Lincoln Tunnel so Rechnitz’s boss — an Israeli billionaire known as the “King of Diamonds” — could get to his Manhattan hotel faster.

Mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips denied the felon’s claims.

“These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” Phillips said. “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”

A rep for Astorino called Rechnitz’s testimony “total contrived nonsense.

“Rob Astorino went shopping in the city for a second-hand watch several years ago. Mr. Rechnitz, who was in no trouble at the time, offered to help and took him to a store near his office,” said Astorino’s re-election campaign spokesman, William O’Reilly.

“Mr. Astorino was then offered the used watch for free. Mr. Astorino promptly declined and insisted on paying for it, which he did. He has the credit-card receipt to prove it, which he provided to the authorities prosecuting Mr. Rechnitz.

“Although this transaction occurred almost 18 months ago, Rob Astorino has never been accused of any wrongdoing by any federal or state prosecutor for any reason – he did nothing wrong,” O’Reilly said.

“Furthermore, Mr. Rechnitz never spoke with Rob Astorino about a volunteer chaplaincy for himself or anyone else.

The NYPD declined comment.

Ben Brafman, lawyer for former NYPD Chief of Department Banks, said, “I don’t have any interest in commenting about Mr. Rechnitz, but I do point out that Chief Banks has never been prosecuted for any wrongdoing.”

John Meringolo, lawyer for James Grant, whose own corruption trial is set for April 30, said, “It’s just all made up against Grant, it really is. Grant’s done nothing wrong. After Jona’s testimony today, we’re certainly going to call Mayor de Blasio to testify and prove that Jona’s lying about having the mayor’s office on speed dial. He’s lying about the mayor the same way he’s lying about Grant.”

Andrew Weinstein, lawyer for another officer tainted by Rechnitz, Michael Harrington, added, “Jona Rechnitz’s entire existence is built upon lies and deception. Any suggestion by Mr. Rechnitz that Mike Harrington was in any way complicit in his [Rechnitz’s] life of crime is but one more lie from a pathetic wannabe who is desperate to implicate others in an effort to save his own skin.”

Click here to see the article in the NYPost

YAFFED.Org – Speaks out against Kalman and Yeger

This was submitted to us by a frequent reader and we tip our hats to that reader.

We note that we are posting this without the prior knowledge of Yaffed’s Naftuli Moster.

This post should not be deemed to imply that we have the support of either Yaffed or Mr. Moster, nor should it be assumed that they are readers of our posts.

Please see the video.

A PLATINUM TESTIMONY – Pay-to-Play – Jona Rechnitz and Mayor de Blasio

 

THE DAILY NEWS

Major de Blasio donor brags about closeness with mayor, says he expected influence for funds at Seabrook trial

 

One of Mayor de Blasio’s biggest donors took the witness stand Thursday to boast about his closeness to the mayor and make clear he had expected “lots of access” to Hizzoner.

The embarrassing testimony came from Jona Rechnitz, who’s pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is the star witness in the trial of disgraced jail union boss Norman Seabrook.

“I was giving money `to the Mayor of New York in exchange for favors,” he said to describe one element of the criminal offense to which he pleaded guilty.

Rechnitz described a meeting he and another donor, Jeremy Reichberg, had with de Blasio’s key fund-raiser, Ross Offinger.

Embattled de Blasio donor to testify against Norman Seabrook

“We expect a lot of access and influence,” Rechnitz said the group told Offinger. “We’re going to become significant contributors.

He said Offinger, a longtime de Blasio aide and the chief rainmaker for the mayor’s non-profit, Campaign for One New York, replied, “Okay. How much do you think you guys can get together?”

Norman Seabrook says $20G was casino prize money, not bribes

Rechnitz, who is cooperating with prosecutors in the hopes of winning lighter jail time, raised $41,000 for the mayor before his 2013 election, donated $50,000 to Campaign for One New York, and wrote a $102,300 check as part of the mayor’s 2014 failed effort to flip the state Senate to Democratic control.

Offinger, Rechnitz testified, returned with his hand out after de Blasio was elected mayor.

“He would call when they needed money,” he said. In return, “I would call whenever I had an issue.”

“I would be a ‘yes’ man,” he added. “I always gave money.”

Witness in Norman Seabrook bribery case is ‘serial liar’: defense

In court he revealed that de Blasio — who has strained to distance himself from Rechnitz — even came to his office before the election.

The then-candidate “told me to call if there’s anything I need. Always be in touch.”

Rechnitz was one of several donors who got tremendous access to the mayor. De Blasio routinely ordered his minions to intervene on donors’ behalf.

Emails show de Blasio responding, “I’m all ears” when Rechnitz suggested a candidate for buildings commissioner, and City Hall intervened when he was cited for running an illegal hotel.

Norman Seabrook says $20G was casino prize money, not bribes

In response late Thursday, de Blasio’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, mocked the credibility of the mayor’s major donor.

“These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” he said. “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”

Rechnitz was cooperating with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s probe of de Blasio that result in no charges but the finding that the mayor had intervened on behalf of big donors.

Rechnitz also admitted he “straw donors” — an illegal scheme to avoid laws limiting how much contributors can give to politicians.

Ex-correction union head Seabrook must face corruption charges

The law prohibits donors from masking their identity by giving to campaigns through other donors. Rechnitz said he did just that by having people in his office write checks for which he would reimburse them.

He described Offinger as a kind of bag man, dropping by his office to pick up checks.

“I told him to hold on and I’d walk out, get a few checks from people and then bring them in,” he said.

Please click here for the original article.

Inspectors Accepting Bribes to Speed up Developments, Shocking? Nope.

The Daily News

Fourteen people charged with bribing inspectors to speed up Brooklyn development projects

With new buildings popping up across Brooklyn, some corrupt property owners put a pair of city inspectors on retainer to avoid code violations, the Department of Investigation charged Wednesday.

The two Department of Buildings inspectors were among 14 individuals hit with charges in the latest crackdown on the resilient corruption that’s plagued the building sector in this city for decades.

The two inspectors were paid off by property owners and contractors to overlook code violations such as inoperable exit signs on residential and commercial buildings going up across Brooklyn, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said.

“Fabricating documents, lying about conducting inspections or about who is doing the work has serious consequences,” said Peters. “For the defendants it’s about expediting the construction timeline. It’s about making an extra buck.”

Financier gets probation for bribing state pension official

In all, 10 property owners, developers and contractors were charged in the scheme, along with a private sector asbestos inspector who took fees to fudge inspections and a master plumber who sold the use of his license.

Thirteen of the 14 were arrested in a pre-dawn sweep. All will be prosecuted by Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and were to be presented in court later Wednesday.

The two city inspectors were paid off with cash but also got free kitchen renovations and driveway upgrades to their private homes, the complaints allege.

Women can be Leaders but not Leaders? Is this really a start?

JTA

Orthodox Union’s new project says women don’t need to be rabbis to be leaders

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Orthodox Union is founding its own division to advance women as congregational leaders, as well as to promote Jewish study and communal participation for women in Modern Orthodoxy.

The announcement comes nearly nine months after the group, an umbrella association of centrist Orthodox synagogues, issued a ruling banning those synagogues from hiring women for clergy roles.

The Department of Women’s Initiatives, which will launch Nov. 1, aims to increase women’s participation in synagogues in a way the O.U. feels is consonant with Orthodox tradition.

“I think it’s important for women to hear what they can do,” said Adina Shmidman, the department’s incoming director. “This department is really focused on the positive, and the will to continue and find opportunities for women. I think positivity and enthusiasm and uniting women through Torah study is primary, whether it be personal leadership opportunities or communal leadership roles.”

The department will have a budget in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and provide guidance, networking and funding for women who want to be professional leaders in Orthodox synagogues. It will also promote women as congregational scholars-in-residence and encourage women to take on lay leadership roles at synagogue. In addition, it will encourage the physical expansion of women’s spaces in synagogues.

Also, the department will  offer high-level women’s classes in Torah study, as well as programs for youth. And it will form a think tank to analyze programs and resources for Orthodox women.

Conceived three years ago, the department is in part a response to the ascendance of women to public leadership roles during the past few decades, O.U. leaders said. They also noted that there is a much wider range of educational opportunities available to Orthodox women than in the past. A synagogue with an entirely male senior staff, said O.U. President Moishe Bane, risks unintentionally sidelining half its membership.

“It’s difficult to expect that when men are the primary communal leadership that they’ll understand and appreciate the roles women play and should be playing, and the needs they have,” Bane said. “I think there’s a recognition in the Orthodox Union that the world is changing rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing rapidly.”

In February, the group issued a ruling barring women from holding a title such as “rabbi,” or even from serving without title in a role in which she would be performing “common” clergy functions such as ruling on legal matters, officiating at life-cycle events, delivering sermons from the pulpit during services, leading services and serving as a synagogue’s primary authority.

The same ruling urged an expanded role for women as teachers and pastoral counselors, and as lay leaders and professionals. The Rabbinical Council of America, another Orthodox umbrella group, has also issued a ruling against women clergy.

Four Orthodox synagogues that are O.U. members currently employ women in such positions — all of them graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a liberal Orthodox women’s seminary in Riverdale. Women who graduate from the seminary receive the title “maharat,” a Hebrew acronym for “Jewish legal, spiritual and Torah leader” that avoids conferring the title “rabbi.” But earlier this year, the O.U. sent representatives to these synagogues asking the female clergy to change their titles.

According to a recent survey, a majority of U.S. Modern Orthodox Jews either fully or somewhat agree that women should have “expanded roles in the clergy.” More than one-third either fully or somewhat support a woman holding a position with “rabbinic authority.” A solid majority says a woman can serve as president of a synagogue — a lay position. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance website currently lists over 80 women who have served as presidents of Orthodox congregations.

Bane and Allen Fagin, the O.U.’s executive vice president, said the department’s establishment is not a reaction to fallout from the ban. Rather, Bane said the ban itself was a result of the department’s planning process, which included an examination of Jewish legal limits on women’s leadership.

The department will advance women as teachers, professional staff and pastoral counselors. But Bane said a woman should not be “the face of the synagogue.”

“One of the most important conversations we believe needs to take place in our community is to define appropriate job descriptions and titles for women who will serve as synagogue professionals, in roles that are consistent with Jewish law, consistent with tradition, but are extremely important within the shul,” he said.

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said she hoped the O.U. would make good on its promises to advance women and invest more in women’s programs. Along with positive actions, she recommended that the O.U. stop actively opposing Orthodox women clergy and the congregations that employ them. Weiss-Greenberg spoke to JTA without knowledge of the department’s establishment, which is being first reported here.

“They list all these things that women can and should be doing,” she said, referring to the O.U.’s Jewish legal ruling. “Actions speak louder than words. Let’s hear from women — women who are not token women, who are highly educated, passionate and invested.”

Shmidman is the kind of synagogue leader the O.U. hopes to develop more of. She has a doctorate in educational psychology and serves her community as the rebbetzin, or rabbi’s wife, of her synagogue in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. In 2015, she founded the Rebbetzin to Rebbetzin Mentoring Program under the auspices of Yeshiva University, which pairs younger rabbis’ wives with more experienced rebbetzins who guide them on how to serve and navigate their communities.

While Shmidman hopes to continue training rebbetzins, she wants to expand leadership and learning opportunities for other women as well. The department will push synagogues to offer classes for women on par with what men receive — such as a “daf yomi,” which that covers a page of Talmud daily — as well as weekly or monthly women’s learning groups and mother-daughter study programs.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Jona Rechnitz the Platinum SERIAL LIAR

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The New York Daily News

The ‘one witness’ in ex-correction union head Norman Seabrook’s corruption case is ‘serial liar’: defense lawyers

The star witness in the corruption case against former correction union boss Norman Seabrook is so sketchy, “you would not buy a used car” from him, defense lawyers said Tuesday.

Jona Rechnitz, a major donor to Mayor de Blasio who admitted to exchanging campaign contributions for perks, was the focus of opening statements in Seabrook’s trial in Manhattan Federal Court.

The former president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association stands accused of pushing $20 million in union pension funds to Murray Huberfeld’s now-defunct hedge fund, Platinum Partners, in exchange for $60,000 in December 2014. Huberfeld is on trial alongside Seabrook.

Prosecutors plan to use testimony from Rechnitz — the alleged bagman in the bribe — to prove Seabrook and Huberfeld, both 57, were in a corrupt scheme. Rechnitz allegedly delivered the cash kickback to Seabrook in an $820 Ferragamo valise.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Bell said in his openings that Rechnitz was an ambitious “wheeler and dealer” who shelled out thousands on vacations and meals for public officials “in exchange for special help from his friends in high places.”

Bell also admitted Rechnitz didn’t tell the truth about his dirty dealings the first few times cops approached him for info, and that he had brokered a plea deal in exchange for testifying.

But Bell insisted Rechnitz eventually came clean, saying, “It’s hard to stick to a lie for so long.”

Lawyers for Seabrook and Huberfeld asked the jury to reject the story of Jona Rechnitz’s redemption.

Norman Seabrook says $20G was casino prize money, not bribes

Paul Shechtman, Seabrook’s lawyer, said Rechnitz is a “serial liar.”

“When this case is over, you would not buy a used car from Jona Rechnitz,” Shechtman said.

To impress the labor leader, Shechtman said, Rechnitz lied about owning expensive Downtown real estate and even pretended to own a rental yacht where he invited Seabrook and his family for several hours. Prior to that brief cruise in summer of 2014, Rechnitz went so far as to tell the crew to scrub the boat of any personal photos – and act as if he owned the vessel, Shechtman said.

Rechnitz’s lawyers declined to comment on their client’s credibility.

Embattled de Blasio donor to testify against Norman Seabrook

Prosecutors have said Rechnitz might testify as early as Wednesday.

The opening statements also rehashed Rechnitz’s extensive relationships with powerful New Yorkers.

Former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, who retired in 2014, introduced Seabrook to Rechnitz. The three traveled to the Dominican Republic in late 2013 – on Rechnitz’s dime.

When Rechnitz wanted a police escort to get home, he called up Banks, said Henry Mazurek, who represents Huberfeld. When he wanted something done in city government, Rechnitz called “a fellow by the name of Bill de Blasio on his personal cell phone,” Mazurek said.

Asked about the alleged ties, Benjamin Brafman, who represents Banks, said: “It is important to note that former Chief Banks has never been charged with any Criminal conduct whatsoever, nor has he even been disciplined during a 30-year career with the NYC Police department that can only be characterized as extraordinary.”

A spokesman for de Blasio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.