Monday, February 08, 2010

No, first we kill the politicians... 

Queens pols stiffed Katrina victims

It's the Big Sleazy. Devastated Hurricane Katrina survivors from New Orleans were left high and dry by a charity set up to help them by state Sen. Malcolm Smith and Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens.

Only $1,392 of at least $31,000 raised to help Katrina families was paid, tax records show, and just about everybody involved with the charity -- including the two Democratic pols -- claim ignorance as to where the rest of the money went.

Meeks said in a statement that "the funds were utilized to help sustain displaced evacuees," but refused to provide further detail. He said money was administered by an unidentified director and that "a committee of community representatives functioned as advisers to the fund."

But three of those advisers said they had no idea whether cash was given out by the group ... Pamela Moore, chief-of-staff to Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, was listed as a member of the advisory board but said that it was a position in name only. "I never attended any board meetings," she said, adding that she did not know if board meetings were even held.

Clark, a Queens Democrat, said she ... helped set up a gospel concert that raised $11,210 after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. "We turned this money over to the congressman [Meeks]," Clark said. "I don't know exactly how it was given out."

A source familiar with the charity's operation and books in 2005 said he was unaware of any money going to Katrina victims that year, and called the failure to help victims "disgusting."... The organization raised at least $31,000 and perhaps more.

The money included a $10,000 donation from the Hindu Temple Society in Queens and $5,000 from the Rent Stabilization Association of New York. The rent group made the donation after its director received a letter from Smith asking to help displaced families.
The Rent Stabilization Association represents the landlord side in rent control regulation matters. So the politicians regulate the rental market ... then "ask" those they regulate to contribute to "charities" they set up ... then the money disappears without a trace.

Dare one think: "extortion".
Sen. Smith, through his spokesman, Austin Shafran, also washed his hands of any distribution of money to Katrina victims. "He wasn't involved in any of the day-to-day operations of the group," Shafran said.

The Post revealed last week that Sen. Smith attempted to direct at least $105,000 in pork-barrel money to New Direction, [a charity] whose mission was community development in the Far Rockaway area. Of that, the charity received $56,500 in state money from 2001 to 2006, according to the state Comptroller's Office. Most of those funds also are unaccounted for.

The charity's federal tax forms provide scant information on how it spent its money. No details were reported on who received grants and the only expenses listed were items such as funding for a senior appreciation week, basketball and double-dutch tournament -- plus $11,000 for "meals and entertainment."

The group also paid $9,004 in IRS penalties for late filing. [NY Post]
That $9,004 in penalties being paid with taxpayers' money ladled from the "pork barrel".