Cuomo Leaves HUD in Shambles
Insight on the News, March 5, 2001 by Kelly Patricia O'Meara
HUD continues to be plagued with fraud and wasteful mismanagement, yet the former chief, Andrew Cuomo, pretended that he cleaned up the billion-dollar mess.
If there is one thing Big Daddy hates, the Tennessee Williams character told his family in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it is mendacity -- the kind of verbal sleight of hand designed to deceive. On his way out of Washington, Andrew Cuomo, Bill Clinton's secretary the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and wanna-be governor of New York, released a cloud of mendacity as odoriferous as any in living memory. In HUD Press Release 013, dated Jan. 17, Cuomo declared: "HUD's departmentwide high-risk designation is now a thing of the past."
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But HUD hasn't been removed from that watch list, and Cuomo has reason to know it. HUD has been on the annual General Accounting Office (GAO) list of federal programs vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement since 1994. This year a single HUD program, Community Development, was removed from the 2001 list, but the two programs that consume 75 percent of HUD's budget -- Single-Family Mortgage Insurance and Rental Housing Assistance -- remain on the GAO watch list for gross waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.
The former secretary's bold-faced mendacity was not missed by Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., who said: "HUD should be recognized for getting one of its major programs off the list, but it's a stretch to claim the agency is off the list. They still have a long way to go" A "stretch"? With 75 percent of HUD's programs still on the high-risk list, Cuomo's statement that "HUD's departmentwide high-risk designation is now a thing of the past" is a "stretch"?
A congressional staffer familiar with HUD's high-risk programs spoke to Insight on condition of anonymity, euphemizing through clenched teeth that Cuomo was "taking liberties" with the truth. But perhaps the departing secretary was confused about the agency's status. Was he unaware that the two programs that remained on the high-risk list amounted to 75 percent of HUD's budget? "No way. This is pretty clear stuff" says the staffer.
The GAO minces no words about the godawful mess Cuomo left at HUD, saying: "Significant weaknesses (internal controls, information and financial-management systems, organizational deficiencies and staffing programs) still persist in two of HUD's major program areas which remain at high-risk -- Single-Family Insurance and Rental Housing Assistance."
One of the problems with downplaying the former secretary's mendacity by referring to it as a "stretch" or "taking liberties" is that it lets those Cuomo left-behind at HUD continue to polish his image. Insight asked Jerry Brown, a spokesman for HUD's public-affairs office, why the exiting secretary would make such a transparent claim. Brown responded, "My understanding from the inspector general's office [HUD IG] is that it is true -- that we were taken off the high-risk list as an agency."
To try to clarify what might have been a misunderstanding by Brown, Insight contacted the HUD IG. Rather than confirm or deny that it had passed the erroneous information to public affairs, an embarrassed Mike Zerega, a spokesman for the HUD IG, punted. He said, "The GAO is responsible for the designation -- it's not our list. I can't comment on what he [Brown] said" Apparently HUD's Cuomo-staffed public-affairs office is just reluctant to say that the agency has been so badly run under the departed Cuomo that it still is on GAO's high-risk list.
In addition to Cuomo's exit pronouncements about the alleged accomplishments at HUD during his tenure, he also produced a 104-page book to convince doubters. For a mere $160,000 in tax money the outgoing secretary published a screed to celebrate HUD's achievements under his management, chronicled under the arresting title, Exposing Injustice: A Chronicle of HUD's Mission in the Forgotten America, 1997-2001. Not surprisingly, there is no mention in this book of the 1999 audit debacle in which billions went unaccounted for, the agency's financial-reporting systems were found not to be functioning and HUD IG Susan Gaffney was unable to validate an audit of the books (see "Why Is $59 Billion Missing from HUD?" Nov. 6, 2000).
Despite the position of Cuomo factotums that there is no money missing at the agency, without the IG's stamp of approval on the 1999 audit there is no way to know if the 242 manual adjustments totaling about $59.6 billion were correctly made to adjust the books for fiscal 1999. The IG refused to certify the audit and brought the problems to the attention of Cuomo, who ignored them.
According to Zerega, "There is no audit of the financial statements for 1999. The department [HUD] said they decided not to reissue any of the stuff we mentioned that was problematic -- they're not going to give us what we went through. They simply said, `Fine, thanks.' They said, `Okay that was 1999 -- what a mess -- now let's move on.'" Zerega concludes. "We attempted to audit and we weren't able to complete it because of the accounting systems -- the problems were in the accounting systems."
NARAL's Endorsement of Eric Schneiderman: The Backstory
By Wayne Barrettpublished: Mon., Sep. 20 2010 @ 9:14PM
NARAL New York just produced a video and hosted a press conference for Eric Schneiderman, the Democratic candidate for attorney general. NARAL has yet to even endorse Andrew Cuomo, the sitting attorney general who is running for governor.
Yet it is governors who shape abortion policy; New York attorney generals have virtually no effect on it.
To compound the paradox, Schneiderman is running against a moderate Republican, Dan Donovan, who is pro-life except in cases of incest and rape and vows to "take the appropriate action against anyone who tries to interfere with a woman's right to choose."
Cuomo is opposed by Carl Paladino, who is against abortion even in cases of incest and rape, vows to cut funding for abortion groups and calls abortion a "fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life."
Irwin Schneiderman, the candidate's wealthy father, has been a board member of NARAL for at least a decade, was once its chair, and also served as the treasurer of its political action committee, stepping down from his NARAL posts in April, according to Samantha Levine, the abortion rights league's spokeswoman. Levine concedes that the senior Schneiderman has been the single largest donor to its political action committee, giving at least $75,000 in the last 6 years. In fact, Schneiderman was the only donor to each NARAL PAC through different two-year cycles, and has accounted for 50 percent of its Women's Health PAC's funding since 2004 and 47 percent of the total raised by the second PAC.
Asked why Schneiderman resigned from his NARAL positions this spring, Levine said: "Because he was not going to be on the board when we made our endorsement in the attorney general race." NARAL endorsed Schneiderman in July, bypassing a pro-choice woman, Kathleen Rice, who was backed by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other pro-choice groups.
Levine at first said that the group hadn't backed Cuomo because he had no primary. When I pointed out that the group endorsed Comptroller candidate Tom DiNapoli in July, even though DiNapoli had no primary, Levine explained: "DiNapoli asked." So then I asked Levine four times if Cuomo had ever asked for the endorsement and all Levine would do was repeat the mantra: "We have not yet endorsed in the gubernatorial race." DiNapoli's opponent, Harry Wilson, is pro choice, though he opposes third trimester abortions and favors some forms of parental consent for minors.
I pressed Levine twice for any evidence that the last pro-life attorney general, Dennis Vacco, who was in office from 1995 to 1999, did anything on abortion issues that NARAL objected to and she ducked that question as well, launching instead into a speech about "not taking any risks." Her refusal to answer flew in the face of the video NARAL put up last week. That video, which Levine said was paid for by the Schneiderman campaign as a "coordinated campaign expenditure," cited actions taken by attorney generals in Michigan, Virginia and Kansas that were attempts to restrict abortion rights. It then posed the question: "Think It Can't Happen Here?" and answered "Think Again," though Levine did not contest the fact the three states named were far more pro-life than New York, where 75 percent support choice.
Levine could not cite any action in the last 15 years that any AG has taken that has had a significant impact on abortion policy, positive or negative, a fact confirmed by Andrew Cuomo's office, which could only find one press release in four years that even tangentially related to abortion. As Levine noted, Eliot Spitzer did attempt in 2002 to investigate crisis pregnancy centers at NARAL's behest, issuing subpoenas to these pro-life counseling centers in an effort to prove that they were deceptively advertising themselves even though they were listed in the Yellow Pages as "abortion alternatives," specifically not as "abortion services" providers. He ultimately withdrew the subpoenas, getting an agreement from one clarifying how they would describe themselves that was starkly similar to an agreement obtained by guess who? His pro-life predecessor Dennis Vacco.
The irony is that NARAL is so pro Schneiderman, he is the only Democrat in the state senate the group endorsed this year. Levine acknowledged that the refusal of the Senate Democrat leadership to take a vote on a key piece of NARAL-backed legislation -- namely a bill that expands the exception for third trimester abortions -- has forced the group to refuse to endorse even pro-choice senators like Liz Krueger.
Asked why only Schneiderman was given a pass on this, all Levine could say was "because he isn't running for senate," suggesting that if he'd sought re-election he would have been unacceptable to the group whose leader, Kelli Conlin, was the only person to share the stage with him at his victory party other than his family. Levine raised questions about Schneiderman's ties to the senate leadership, though he helped install John Sampson as conference chair and was strongly backed by Sampson in the AG primary.
Levine argued that the murkiness around this exception for late-term abortions was the reason it was important who was elected AG (women can only get these abortions under state law if the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman, while federal law extends the right to women whose health is endangered by the pregnancy). NARAL believes that the next AG may have to take some undefined action to make it clear that federal law, not state law, applies in New York, though it's unclear what he could do. Asked if NARAL had ever requested that Cuomo clarify the applicable rule in New York, Levine said she didn't know, suggesting how recently this has become a rationale for its all AG-related activities.
NARAL endorsed Cuomo in 2006 against a pro choice Republican woman, Jeanine Pirro, so its failure to endorse him so far this year may well be tied to the antagonism between Schneiderman and Cuomo that hung over the primary battle. Conlin has long used the group's endorsements as an expression of her personal political alliances; indeed she was so close to Rudy Giuliani that he named her to two administration posts and NARAL endorsed him against pro choice Democrat Ruth Messinger (it even remained neutral when Giuliani squared off against Hillary Clinton).
Schneiderman's attempt to use NARAL to frame a fundamental contrast with Donovan has been attacked by Donovan as a "red herring," designed "to distract voters from what the real issues are." Even Conlin struggled a bit last week when she hosted a City Hall press conference with Council Speaker Christine Quinn and was asked to explain how Donovan raises such a red flag on abortion when he is backed by Mike Bloomberg, who Conlin did TV commercials for in the 2009 campaign and has saluted as a singularly bold champion of choice.
ADL opposition to ‘Ground Zero mosque’ leads to a debate in itself
The Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” is getting a lot of attention, for good reason.
Abe Foxman and his ADL are famous for fighting to protect the rights of religious minorities (namely, Jews). Its motto: “To stop the defamation of the Jewish people…to secure justice and fair treatment for all.”
So many will say, no doubt, that its position on the mosque goes against the group’s historical mission.
If you read the ADL’s statement, they’re basically saying that Muslims have every right to build a mosque in NYC, but to do so near Ground Zero is just too much for the survivors of 9/11.
The final paragraph sums things up:
Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.
But the ADL also raises more serious questions about the Cordoba Initiative, which is seeking to build the Islamic center:
In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values. These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming.
Gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, who is building his candidacy around opposition to the Islamic center, is hailing the ADL’s stance:
The Anti-Defamation League deserves praise for their courage in taking the responsible and correct position of supporting my call for more transparency in the financing of this 100 million dollar Mosque at Ground Zero. Andrew Cuomo could end the public’s concern on the Cordoba Initiative by simply doing his job and shed the necessary light on this project. Andrew Cuomo must show the same political courage demonstrated by the Anti-Defamation League.
Commentator Jeffrey Goldberg says the ADL made a “terrible decision.”
He writes on the Atlantic’s blog: “The fight is not between the West and Islam; it is between modernists of all monotheist faiths, on the one hand, and the advocates of a specific strain of medievalist Islam, on the other. If we as a society punish Muslims of good faith, Muslims of good faith will join the other side. It’s not that hard to understand. I’m disappointed that the ADL doesn’t understand this.”
Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the NYC-based National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, told the NYT: “The ADL should be ashamed of itself. Here, we ask the moderate leaders of the Muslim community to step forward, and when one of them does, he is treated with suspicion.”
More on Andrew Cuomo..??? Are you afraid of debating, Palladino, Andrew??? Maybe so..? After all, you were handed it all, from Daddy's SILVER Platter...Along with Political Pull, money and his amoreess..!
Apples dont't fall far, from the tree.. Mauro Cuomo: pro-ABORTION....!
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR HOMES..ANY OF YOU ELITITST???
DO YOU GIVE A D***, THAT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF GOD-FEARING Americans, are now without homes..!
There is a place for ALL OF YOU: HADES..!
HUD WAS NOT JUST GOOD OLE' , BARNEY FRANK...! HIS? PARTNER IN CRIME WAS ANDREW CUOMO...! NOT TO MENTION, BS..!
Ttraitors ALL to America..!
TO ALL THE BUTCHERED UNBORN..GOD BLESS YOU..!
GOD BLESS AND IN GOD WE TRUST..!