Tag Archives: Big Labor

Politics Aside: Is it time for Liu to step down?


| RHornak@queenscourier.com


As more information continues to spill out about the scandal surrounding John Liu’s fundraising practices, both in his 2009 campaign for comptroller and his current effort to run for mayor, it is becoming clear that his ability to effectively do his job is in serious jeopardy.  That would be the case for anyone in this circumstance, but for Liu, who has never taken his job as defender of the public purse seriously, and instead has only been an advocate for the interests of Big Labor, it is time to resign.

It started last month with a New York Times investigation into some of Liu’s donors, many of whom turned out to either not exist or claim to have never contributed to him. Liu has also neglected to report bundlers – supporters who collect donations on behalf of the campaign from their friends and associates – as is required by law.

These would be serious allegations against any candidate. However, with New York City’s extremely generous program of matching funds, with six dollars of taxpayer money given to candidates for every dollar they raise (the match caps at the first $175 from each donor), this is a much bigger problem, with the implication that Liu’s campaign conspired to commit fraud in order to steal from the taxpayers.

Worse still, many of the irregularities the Times exposed are with Chinese companies from Queens, some who are city contractors where the comptroller has oversight on their agreements. In fact, many of the details surrounding these donations appear shady, from business addresses that don’t exist to contributors who admit their boss made the contributions on their behalf at a company fundraising event for Liu. In most cases, the amounts given were $800 per person.

There appear to be too many cases where the fact patterns are the same for this to be a coincidence or for it all to be the doings of these individual business owners. Short of someone discovering a “how-to” manual for campaign finance evasion, it seems clear that the campaign was complicit in these activities. At the very least, major alarm bells should have gone off with campaign fundraisers (were they truly unaware) that something irregular was going on and an internal investigation should be held before accepting these bogus contributions.

Now one bundler has been arrested, another is being closely scrutinized, and ties to already jailed finance cheat Norman Hsu have been uncovered. But not only is Liu not showing any shame, he claims to be still running for mayor, in spite of these transgressions. He clearly thinks his close relationship with Big Labor bosses, who pumped over $180,000 into his 2009 campaign, will bail him out. If the current investigation into Liu doesn’t sink his mayoral ambitions, let’s hope the people of the city of New York will.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party. 

Politics Aside: Time for pink slips to fly


| RHornak@queenscourier.com


Nobody likes to see anyone fired; especially when times are tough and jobs are hard to find. But the fact remains that one of New York’s biggest problems is a bloated public employee force, with generous pay and benefits compared to what is found in the private sector.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is approaching the end of his first year in office and has received high marks across the board for his make-no-excuses approach to dealing with our budget problems. This has been a crises going back over 20 years to the last Governor Cuomo, and every governor since has addressed the problem the same way, raise taxes and raise spending even more.

This has created a structural problem, where our budget increases at a rate faster than we can keep up with. Much of this has been driven by Big Labor, which has not only refused to make concessions in the past, but instead has kept up pressure for bigger and more outrageous increases that have driven New York to the top of the highest taxed state list.

To his credit, Cuomo has refused to engage in the tactics of the past, namely passing the buck for another year while resorting to class-warfare/soak-the-rich campaigns that always ended up with higher taxes on the middle class (often disguised as fees). This was the modus operandi during the Mario Cuomo, Pataki and Spitzer years.

Now almost 10 months in, it’s time for the governor to make some tough decisions. CSEA, the largest union in N.Y., has worked out a five-year agreement with Cuomo to cut costs with no layoffs. However, that deal doesn’t seem to be acceptable to PEF, the 56,000-member public employees union. Union leaders agreed to the deal over the summer, but now the members have voted to reject the contract.

Cuomo promised that if they didn’t ratify the contract, he would be forced to lay off 3,500 members. Now PEF wants to renegotiate, complaining about the five-year term of the contract, among other things. But after more than 20 years of riding the gravy train, more than five years of austerity will be required to get our house in order.

This should be a non-negotiable point. CSEA already set the standard by agreeing to a five year deal. If Cuomo caves on this with PEF, he will be far weaker when dealing with other unions. Nobody wants to see anyone fired now, but Cuomo must make good on his promise. Fire the 3,500 PEF employees, who the union clearly didn’t feel were a priority, and let’s make New York’s budget structurally sound once and for all.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.