Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Mayor Elect Thomas Transition Advisory Board: 
Symbolism without Substance


Mount Vernon Mayor Elect Richard Thomas announced his advisory council to the pubic yesterday. What was missing from Thomas' advisory council was his promise of real community connection. Where are the community leaders? Where are the people that have been out front in support of Thomas’s campaign from the beginning? Mayor Thomas has gone astray and alienated the core group of supporters that put him in office. 

As we say in Mount Vernon, the streets are talking and the streets are saying that Thomas has turned his back on his main supporters that gave him the credibility to galvanize the support of the masses of Mt. Vernon.

Are we to believe that the list of advisors presented by Mayor-elect Richard Thomas actually knows how to advise Thomas on the day-to-day operations in Mount Vernon?

Are we the people of Mt. Vernon to be bamboozled by titles and corporate positions and no real history in our community?

Mayor Elect Richard Thomas has assembled a transition team headed by an individual that has ties to former New York State Majority Leader Dean Skelos.  United States Attorney Preet Baharara has indicted Skelos and his son.

Mayor Elect Richard Thomas has named Arthur "Jerry" Kremer who heads a company called Empire Government Strategies.  Kremer's company is tied to Senator Skelos' indictment. 

According to an article in the Shelter Island Reporter titled, "Suffolk Close-up: A Long Island web of corruption:

The arrest on federal corruption charges of Long Islander Dean Skelos, majority leader of the New York State Senate, and his resignation from that post last week, casts a spotlight on a major law firm.

Ruskin Moscou Faltischek is a mover-and-shaker of governments on Long Island and one of its partners is an East Ender in charge of lobbying activities for the firm.

The Times article said “the criminal complaint in the case — which cataloged a series of accusations centered on the senator’s efforts to use his official position to extort money for his son — did not reflect well on the firm.” The Times noted that the federal charge alleged, “At the senator’s request, the law firm ‘steered title insurance work’ to his son, Adam B. Skelos, ‘including at least one real estate transaction’ for over $32.6 million.”

Mr. Skelos was presented on the law firm’s website in the context of his official position — “Senator Dean G. Skelos, Of Counsel,” was its heading. Although now mired in legal problems involving alleged corruption, one passage speaks, with an irony that’s almost funny, about Senator Skelos “building upon his record of combating fraud and abuse in government.”

According to the federal charge, the senator began working at the firm in 1994, he has been paid more than $2.6 million, despite the fact that it appears, based on evidence gathered during the investigation, that Mr. Skelos “did not perform any actual legal work” for the firm.

An unusual aspect of the firm is what it calls its “government relations arm, Empire Government Strategies.” This is headed by Arthur “Jerry” Kremer of Bridgehampton.



In a section on the law firm’s website devoted to Mr. Kremer, under his photo is a quote: “Law and politics have always been closely aligned. Many of my clients turn to me for legal counsel, but also for my insights into the political arena, which is a constantly changing landscape.” He is described as a partner in the law firm.

Mr. Kremer is a Democrat and for 23 years was a member of the New York State Assembly. As a lobbyist, he’s been active in Suffolk County representing, among other clients, the tobacco industry and seeking to block measures advanced by the Suffolk Legislature to restrict smoking.

Although a highly active lobbyist, for 20 years he has regularly appeared as a political and government analyst on Cablevision’s News12.

Newsday, in an investigative article by reporter Mark Harrington in 2013, detailed how the “influential law firm and its government relations arm have a history of close ties to the Long Island Power Authority and stand to gain billions if new LIPA contracts come their clients’ way in coming weeks and months.”

It noted that the Uniondale-based firm “long has represented Caithness of New York City through its government relations arm” and “helped the energy company through lobbying and consulting work to secure a $1.49 billion LIPA contract for a new power plant.” Caithness is now pushing to add a second gas-fired power plant to the one it built in Yaphank.

The law firm through its “Empire Government Strategies,” the Newsday piece continued, “Also has represented PSEG of New Jersey since at least last year. PSEG is slated to see a $200 million-plus expansion of its $3.8 billion contract with LIPA if the State Legislature OKs Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to give PSEG near total control of the LIPA grid in January,”

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, which includes Long Island, has been doing a extraordinary job exposing how New York State government functions (or dysfunctions). His charges against Mr. Skelos of Rockville Centre follow the indictment in February, also on corruption charges, of the top Democrat in the State Legislature, Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, the Assembly speaker, also forced to resign his leadership post. Earlier, Mr. Bharara brought a series of successful prosecutions against other state officials.

Thomas’s connection with alleged Lucchese crime family associate Joseph Spiezio has run all of Thomas’s credible support away and running for the hills. The exposure of the Spiezio Thomas connection has forced Thomas to downplay the leadership role of his lead advisor. Make no mistake about it, Spiezio is still running things and he still is making Thomas’ decisions.  

What we are witnessing are acts of desperation by an administration that has spiraled out of control before the administration has even taken office.

We must continue to hold elected officials accountable and not tolerate shenanigans from any elected official, even if he has a smile and a collage degree!!

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