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queens district attorney candidates queens da office candidates melinda katz for queens da tiffany caban for queens da gregory lasak for queens da rory lancman queens district atty betty lugo queens district attorney mina malik queens da jose nieves queens district atty race

Why do Real Estate Developers Favor Katz for Queens District Attorney?

Tenants Pay Heed: Katz Became a Real Estate Development Lobbyist for Greenberg Traurig After Chairing the Land Use Committee in the NYC Council

This report covers campaign tricks, the phony Queens Library 'corruption scandal', the alleged Curtis Sliwa affair and something about a Katz Fundraiser at restaurant with Alleged Mob ties ...

queens district attorney candidates queens da race queensJune 17, 2019 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics NYC / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz NYC.

We’re a week away from Election Day for the Queens District Attorney Office. Melinda Katz, whose candidacy was once believed to be a shoo-in - based on her Borough-wide name recognition and the unmitigated support of the Queens Democratic machine.

 

Is Melinda Katz Candidacy for District Attorney Faltering?

It now appears that her candidacy may be in jeopardy as the Queens Democratic machine called upon Governor Cuomo to help raise funds to either stop or slow Katz’s accelerating slide in the polls. It’s worth mentioning that the Cuomo’s June 10th fundraiser was not held in Queens – where it should have been – but rather in Manhattan [where the real estate developers are?].

 

IT'S NOT FUNDING - The Real Estate Cash has been Pouring In

Is Melinda Katz’s Candidacy Faltering Because she doesn’t have the Qualifications or Because she has shown little interest in Criminal Justice until she Began Running for the Queens DA Office?

queens district attorney candidates queens da candidates melinda katz tiffany caban gregory lasak queens district atty candidatesBut it’s not funding that Katz needs help with. It’s her lack of criminal justice education, her complete lack of experience in the criminal justice system, and her lack of interest in criminal justice issues over her entire career until about six months ago.

As a point of contrast it’s worth noting that Queens District Attorney candidate and NYC Councilmember Rory Lancman also lacks a criminal justice degree and experience – but at least he served on committees that focused on the topic and dealt with the issues – which Melinda Katz has not. The focus of Katz’s early political career was on women’s and health issues, and the rest of her public career largely centered on Land Use / real estate development, as she was Chair of the Standing Committee on Land Use during her time as a NYC Councilmember.

Both she and Lancman are in term limited positions which expire at the end of 2021, which in political terms, is just around the corner. The Queens District Attorney Office is not term limited and the last Queens DA, Richard Brown, served in that position nearly three decades [28 years]. Richard Brown recently died, at age 86, at home on May 3, 2019.

 

Real Estate Development Lawsuits in Queens

In recent years there have been a myriad of lawsuits involving real estate developers in Queens. These center around harassment, contested evictions and around safe work practices for contractors and employees. Unfortunately I don’t have time to enumerate them, but you can do a search on this yourself using the search string ‘Queens real estate developers lawsuits’.


queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney race


Queens Voters have a Couple of Other Very Qualified Candidates – One Conservative & One Liberal

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceThe two leading candidates with criminal justice degrees and experience are former Judge Gregory Lasak and Public Defender Tiffany Caban. Former Judge Gregory Lasak has a career spanning more than three decades working in the criminal justice system, and Tiffany Caban has spent seven years working in the criminal justice system as a Legal Aid Society attorney and Public Defender. The choice here is pretty clear as Judge Lasak is a go-slow advocate of reform, while Tiffany Caban is a passionate advocate of reform. But at least both of these candidates have qualifications that fit the job.

There’s an old saying in business that goes something like this, “You can’t manage a process you don’t understand. And you can’t understand a process unless you’ve done it.”

 

 

Melinda Katz runs as both the Establishment & Reform Candidate

FLIP FLOPS: Is Katz Really the Candidate of Developers & Landlords?

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceAs for Katz’s message – it’s unclear for what she really stands. At times she claims she’s a reformer, but we’ve seen little in the way of reform initiated by Katz over the past decade - and likely far longer - possibly ending in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s when she became a City Councilmember on the Land Use committee.

Not that long ago she reportedly backed capital punishment. And up until recently she backed cash bail, reportedly flip flopping on the issue particulars. And while she has said she supports the closing of Rikers Island and replacing it with borough centric jails [so the inmates can maintain their connections to family and community while awaiting trial], she appears to have taken the position of “not in my backyard” as the proposed replacement in Queens would be near Borough Hall where there’s already a jail. To help put this in perspective it’s worth noting that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. submitted a request that that is where the Bronx replacement facility for Rikers be placed.

 

 

Melinda Katz becomes a Real Estate Lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig in 2010

queens district attorney candidates queens da candidates melinda katz tiffany caban gregory lasak queens district atty candidatesIn 2010 Katz took a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig, working on real estate development deals, which seemed to strengthen her ties to the real estate development community in general, and Boston Properties controlled by billionaire real estate developer and [at the time] the NY Daily News Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman in particular. Essentially she helped clients navigate their way through city and state government bodies [some of which she had previously worked on as a representative of the public] in order to get the real estate development deals deals done.

 

  • CLICK for the rest of our report on Melinda Katz - Queens DA candidates - the report covers 'dirty tricks', the phony Queens Library 'corruption scandal', the alleged Curtis Sliwa affair and something about a mob restaurant.

Why do Real Estate Developers Favor Katz for Queens District Attorney?

Tenants Pay Heed: Katz Became a Real Estate Development Lobbyist for Greenberg Traurig After Chairing the Land Use Committee in the NYC Council

This report covers campaign tricks, the phony Queens Library 'corruption scandal', the alleged Curtis Sliwa affair and something about a Katz Fundraiser at a restaurant with Alleged Mob ties ...

June 17, 2019 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics NYC / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz NYC.

Melinda Katz Runs for Queens Borough President using Campaign Tricks?

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceThe next step of her career happened a few years later, whereby in 2013, she ran for Queens Borough President. Two things happened here worth noting. One was what appeared to be the placement of ‘Me Too’ candidates by the Queens Democratic party machine to siphon votes away from Peter Vallone who was Katz’s primary opponent. And the second was a late-in-the-game ‘low blow’ mailer by the Katz campaign attacking Peter Vallone and using what appeared to be scare tactics on the voting public. Specifically Katz sent out a mailer, with a darkened, distorted photo that appeared to demonize Vallone, portraying him as against women’s rights [he was a pro-lifer].

Pol watchers wondered if the Queens Democratic machine convinced Tony Avella to run for Queens Borough President just long enough for Avella’s name to show up on the primary ballot [and siphon votes away from Vallone] – as Avella dropped out prior to Election Day. This appeared to be designed to split the Italian vote between Avella and Vallone. The ‘me too’ name on the ballot, along with the attack mailer, gave Katz a narrow victory. Katz won 45% of the vote, while Vallone captured 34% of the vote [43% total], and Avella captured 9% of the vote.

Are Any Candidates, in the Queens DA Election, Democratic Party Machine Surrogates?

As in the 2013 Queens Borough President election, so too in the Queens District Attorney election, I have found it difficult to find evidence that the Democratic machine has placed people on the ballot to siphon off votes. BUT it’s not lost on me that since Caban announced her candidacy in January 2019, TWO other progressive women of color [Lugo & Malik] placed their names on the ballot – and neither of them appear to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the primary based on funding, organizational endorsements or popular support.

A June 11, 2019 City & State report tabulating the endorsements of the candidates showed that Lugo received the endorsement of one current and one former NYS Assemblymembers. Malik received three endorsements, one from a national group, another from a Washington, D.C. pol and the third from an academic. To win a primary you need political groups to help get out the vote and neither of these women, nor Jose Nieves [no endorsements noted in the C&S report] have any of that kind of support.

The fundraising for these three has also been significantly below the leading four [Lasak, Caban, Lancman & Katz] - so these three are - for all practical purposes - not real contenders in the race. And while Malik, Lugo and Nieves are highly likely to lose, all of their names on the ballot will siphon votes away from Tiffany Caban based on ethnic identity and ideology.

Queens District Attorney Race Endorsements

A June 11, 2019 report by City & State attempted to log all of the endorsements obtained by the candidates running for the Queens District Attorney Office. I noted the endorsements of the three candidates not faring well in this race above. The following is a summary of the City & State report, but you can also do a search for it using their name, date and subject.

Essentially Tiffany Caban has obtained most of the endorsements of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. This is from organizations and pols.

Melinda Katz has obtained most of the endorsements of the Queens and NYS Democratic Party Machines which has held a tight grip on power in the borough for somewhere between a quarter and half century.

Former Judge Gregory Lasak has obtained most of the endorsements from law enforcement organizations and community.

And Rory Lancman has an eclectic mix of endorsements, not easily labeled.

Katz and Caban have the most endorsements, but Katz was caught claiming at least one endorsement - from Assemblymember Brian Barnwell - that she did not have. Barnwell, like Daniel Dromm, has NOT endorsed any candidate for District Attorney in the Democratic primary. Both Lasak and Lancman racked up a significant number of endorsements, but measurably fewer than Caban and Katz.

Caban also received some endorsements following the report - including from progressive Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

 

Katz's Dark Side: The Phony Queens Library 'Corruption Scandal'

Shortly after Katz assumed the Borough Presidency, Mortimer Zuckerman’s NY Daily News began attacking the Queens Library President, Thomas Galante insinuating that he was corrupt. The NY Daily News was immediately joined by Melinda Katz and the newly elected NYC Comptroller, Scott Stringer, who just a day later announced he would audit the library. It’s worth noting that Stringer endorsed Caban last week, evincing a possible split in a decades long friendship. Click here to read our report series on the phony Queens Library 'corruption scandal'.

 

Did Katz Betray the Public for Advancement of her Political Career?

queens things to doWhat follows is a summary of the Queens Library ‘corruption scandal’ which appeared to be an attempt by Katz to wrest control of the Queens Library and give her control of it. I found a report in Katz’s former client, Mortimer Zuckerman’s, NY Daily News that lauded the Brooklyn Library system for selling some of the land upon which the Brooklyn Library stood to a real estate developer. Was this a coincidence or was it causal?

For the next year Zuckerman’s NY Daily News and Katz kept attacking the Queens Library President, Board and its Charter based upon allegations and innuendo. The FBI, the NYC Department of Investigations and Scott Stringer’s Comptrollers Office all investigated the Queens Library, the Queens Library President [Thomas Galante] and the Queens Library Board. THEY FOUND NOTHING that resulted in any charges of criminal misconduct .

 

Did Katz Violate the Key Values a Queens District Attorney Must Defend?

BUT that didn’t matter because while they put up the smoke screen and stirred public opinion against the Library President and existing Board Members [many of whom defended Galante] they were able to replace Galante, the loyal Board members and re-write the Charter that philanthropist Andrew Carnegie had spent years drafting and modifying a century ago - all on the basis of ALLEGATIONS & INNUENDO.

This is very relevant to the Queens District Attorney Office position that Katz is trying to win, as in this nation generally there is the presumption of innocence until PROVEN guilty. Katz acted hastily on the presumption of guilt and pushed through reforms that essentially politicized the Queens Library, making it more possible for real estate developers like Mortimer Zuckerman to make a play for the land upon which the libraries stand and which was donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie - who made a point of NOT allowing the government to completely control the Queens Library Board.

 

Did Katz Instruct her Attorney to Violate the Fiduciary Trust of the Queens Library and then Cover it Up?

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceThe second piece of this is that it appeared Katz instructed her liaison with the Queens Library – at the time run by an independent non-profit – to leak confidential information to the NY Daily News in violation of a confidentiality agreement with the Queens Library. That leaked confidential information was then used to hype the ‘scandalous corruption’ at the Queens Library by distorting it, hyping it and presenting it out of context.

If Katz did instruct the liaison to leak confidential information or did it herself, Katz would have been guilty of violating a fiduciary trust. When the Queens Library Board filed FOIL [Freedom of Information] requests to the Queens Borough Presidents Office, Katz stalled for months using parliamentary tactics. After Katz had replaced enough of the existing Queens Library Board Members, the Board Members who had filed the FOIL requests gave up. So while Katz was calling for transparency at the Queens Library, she was fighting hard for keeping things out of public view at the Queens Borough President’s Office.

Yes, Melinda Katz saved the award winning Queens Library from a phony ‘corruption scandal’ that Mortimer Zuckerman’s NY Daily News seemed to create, and that she hyped with a big assist from Scott Stringer. But in the end it all seemed to be smoke and mirrors.

So it seemed Melinda Katz was ready to trade the public trust for a brilliant career move, by solidifying the support of a billionaire developer and owner [at the time – but no longer] of one of the three daily newspapers in the city, by loosening community control of the Queens Library and the land its sits upon.

 

Lacking Key Qualifications Doesn’t Matter as does Democratic Machine Connections?

queens district attorney candidates queens da candidates melinda katz tiffany caban gregory lasak queens district atty candidatesKatz, through her Queens Library Board appointees, replaced Galante, a highly regarded library science professional - with Dennis Walcott who had no prior education or experience in library science or managing a library system. Sounds very much like Katz vis a vis the District Attorney position, as she does not have any education in criminal law, nor any experience working in a District Attorney Office – and yet she’s asking [at times it sounded like she was telling] us to give her the top criminal justice job in the borough.

And it's worth asking why Governor Cuomo raised money for Katz and endorsed her – even though there are two other very qualified people providing a conservative and progressive choice for moving forward? Crony capitalism?


Melinda Katz – Some Questions of Character – Tabloid Affair & Restaurant with Alleged Mob Ties?

While doing the research and due diligence on the phony Queens Library ‘Corruption Scandal’ I came across the tabloid side of Melinda Katz’s life in Rupert Murdoch’s NY Post. The NY Post reported on allegations of Katz having an affair with Conservative Radio Commentator Curtis Sliwa while he was still married. If true, this shows Katz’s disrespect for the marriage contract.

The affair may have resulted in two children, but Katz reportedly claimed she was inseminated in vitro with Sliwa’s sperm. Nonetheless, Sliwa reportedly paid Katz $400,000 in child support while he was married to another woman, which Sliwa’s ex-wife then claimed should not have been paid, and should have been part of queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney racethe pooled assets under the divorce proceedings in a 2013 - 2014 civil case. The court battle broke out in late 2013 and early 2014 and Katz succeeded in keeping the court battle out of the public eye. But you can read the preview details of it by using Katz and Sliwa’s names and the above mentioned allegations, in a search, to get the full scoop from the NY Post.

The reason I bring this up is that it brings up the question Katz’s respect for the law – the marriage contract. And in tandem with what happened in the phony Queens Library ‘corruption scandal’ begins to show a pattern that calls into question Katz’s integrity.

One other item surfaced recently in the NY Post reporting that Melinda Katz held a fundraiser at a Rego Park restaurant reportedly owned in part by one of the Genovese family associates who was convicted of one or more crimes, and recently released. It’s worth mentioning that the Mob has historically been reported to have infiltrated real estate developments, construction unions and contractors.

In the March 28, 2019 story, the NY Post asked, "Aren’t these the guys she’s supposed to be putting away?"

 

Katz the Reformer? Not When it Comes to Real Estate Development & Tenants’ Rights

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceSince becoming Queens Borough President in 2014, Katz does not appear to have done anything even closely as big as her power grab of the Queens Library. Perhaps because that drew the ire of some of her allies, who probably began to realize that Melinda wasn’t the Katz they thought they knew.

She talks about herself as a reformer, but I’ve noted in my reporting of the last couple State of the Borough Addresses, how little attention she has drawn to the plight of harassed tenants, as I find it to be one of the biggest issues in the Queens borough since Katz took office. She may have been a reformer twenty or thirty years ago - prior to her stint as a well paid lobbyist - but we’ve seen little to no material reform since she took office as Borough President – save the ‘reform’ of the ‘corrupt’ Queens Library. And that kind of reform looked more like corruption than real progressive reform.

Click here for her 2018 Melinda Katz State of the Queens Borough Address, where scant mention is made regarding landlord harrassments and / or tenant evictions. And if you scroll down the front page you'll [currently 6/18/19] find Katz 2019 State of the Borough Address - excluding the same - along with little mention of the Amazon arrival plans, which would have exacerbated the tenants' plight, but which were canceled not long after that address was made because Amazon Founder Bezos is too smart to be permanently labeled while being blamed for accelerating something that will happen likely happen more gradually even without the tax incentives.

 

Tenants Pay Heed & Follow the Money

The Next Queens District Attorney Can Help You or Hurt You

queens district attorney candidates queens da candidates melinda katz tiffany caban gregory lasak queens district atty candidatesSo tenants beware – as Katz has spent her career focused on Land Use and real estate development. And over the past decade she appears to be far more aligned with the real estate developers and landlords than with the renters and tenants. She calls herself the Voice of the People, but she acts like she’s the Voice of the Real Estate Developers and Landlords who've been donating heavily to her campaign for Queens DA. Her push for development of a privately owned soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park is just one example of her pro-development stances.

The real estate industry has reportedly contributed over a quarter million dollars to Katz's campaign. But it's not just the big money Democrats, as big money GOP donors appear to have jumped on the Katz bandwagon as well. According to a June 11, 2019 report in the NY Daily News, former Republican Mayoral candidates John Catsimitides and Paul Massey both donated $5,000 to Katz's campaign, as did Joe Mattone whose family is in the construction business. Massey's daughter is the chair of the Manhattan Republican party. And the NY Daily News goes on to tell us,

"Real-estate millionaire Steven Roth, who ponied up $100,000 to the president’s reelection bid, gave $2,500 to Katz’s campaign."

In the report former Judge Lasak was reported to have also received donations valued at $7,600 from members of the Mattone family, as well as $5,000 from ex-Senator Republican Alphonse D'Amato. And Tiffany Caban reportedly received a $2,000 gift from actress Susan Sarandon and $35,000 from Patty Quillin the wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

 

Real Estate Industry Funding of Katz's Campaign vs Caban's People-Powered Push

Katz started the race with over a million in contributions, as did Rory Lancman - both of whom are accepting donations from big moneyed donors. Public Defender Tiffany Caban has not been accepting money from big money donors and the contrasts are something out of a movie.

In a June 17, 2019 NY1 report on campaign donations in June, Katz took in $172,000 from 172 donors, averaging $1000 per donor. Tiffany Caban took in more - $233,000 from over 4,500 donors, averaging $51 per donor. Who do you think is going to serve the especially selfish interests and who do you think will serve the people?

In that same report, former Judge Lasak received $144,000 in donations from a bit under 300 people, averaging $537 per donor. Lasak seems to have struck middle ground. The NY1 report didn't contain the donations raised by other candidates because they weren't available online [Lancman & Lugo] or because they were mentioned as "far lower totals".

 

Real Estate Development Lawsuits in Queens

In recent years there have been a myriad of lawsuits involving real estate developers in Queens. These center around harassment, contested evictions and around safe work practices for contractors and employees. Unfortunately I don’t have time to enumerate them, but you can do a search on this yourself using the search string ‘Queens real estate developers lawsuits’.


queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney race


Good News: There are Two Qualified Candidates Representing Conservative and Progressive Democrats From Which to Choose

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceFormer Judge Lasak is an educated, experienced criminal justice professional. He has racked up a significant number of endorsements, many of which are from law enforcement professionals. If you’re happy or content with the status quo, he’s qualified to manage it well, and he’s indicated an openness to some reform.

Public Defender Tiffany Caban is an educated, experienced criminal justice attorney, who has shown a passion for reform and articulated a pretty clear and reasoned vision of it. If you want change, she’s most likely to push to achieve it.

 

Political Calculus – Lugo, Nieves and Malik Won’t Win & Will Siphon Votes from Caban

And Both Caban or Lasak are Still in the Race & can Still Win

Rory Lancman’s candidacy also seems to have stalled. And since he seems a real reformer based on his legislative record, a vote for him is likely a vote that Caban loses, and strengthens the possibility of a Katz win.

As for conservative Democrats, former Judge Lasak is one of the top three contenders in the polls. His numbers have been rising, while Katz’s have been falling. It seems both Caban and Lasak are drawing from Katz as she has positioned herself as being both conservative and progressive. And given a third of the electorate hasn’t decided, the race is still up for grabs - most likely among these three.

Why only these three? Because these three are supported by and endorsed by politically active groups that will get out the vote on what will likely be a low turnout election. And they are three of the top four fundraisers - if not the top three.

 

Coming Wednesday - Video of Closing Remarks at Queens DA Debate in Jamaica by All Candidates

A VIDEO showing closing remarks at the Queens District Attorney Debate in May will be posted within the next 24 hours. The following is a link to a poll locator so you can find your polling place. Poll hours are 6 am – 9 pm and they are sharp.

Regardless of your choice. Please get out and vote on Tuesday, June 25th. A government of, by and for the people doesn’t work if the people don’t play an informed and active role.

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The New York State general election is Tuesday, June 25th, 2019.

The polling booths will be open from 6 am to 9 pm Tuesday.

To find your poll location click on the graphic above.

Once on the website, input your address, and then click the icon to the right of it to get the results of the search. You have to look for the super-tiny icon near the lower right corner of the screen.


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