Thursday, March 08, 2007

Protecting the Political Establishment in S.I.

UP FRONT News February 16, 2007
Published by Tom Weiss Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”
A few months ago, while I was running as a Democratic write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton, I met a gentleman on the Ferry and we talked some
politics. I recall that he was definitely of a liberal persuasion and that he did not much care for Mrs. Clinton and was glad to learn that someone, a Staten Islander no less, was running against her. I asked him what he thought of the Staten Island Advance, a daily that is read almost exclusively on the Island. He smiled and said, more or less verbatim, “Oh, you mean the retreat?” I laughed because I had several times used the same characterization for a newspaper that, while it has a liberal sometimes environmentally sensitive veneer, basically serves to protect the establishment in power, be it Democratic or Republican.
The Staten Island Advance is among the many newspapers that are guilty of both slanted news reporting and censorship. The Advance in that regard is nowhere near as bad as for example The New York Post, which is perhaps the most blatant example of yellow journalism combined with soft-core porn in the U.S. Its political reporting and editorial pages, often almost indistinguishable from one another, are neo-con Social Darwinism macho propaganda. The paper thrives on blatantly pro-right wing slanted re- porting (and non-reporting) along with ghoulish sensationalism of violent crime and is suffused with the ethic of “greed is good.” It is totally hypocritical in its moralistic con- cerns about “pervs” in light of its cheesecake slightly Playboy-style photography. It re- gards Paris Hilton as a more important story than Genocide. The New York Post is per- haps the worst paper in America. Owner Rupert Murdoch, a financial backer of Hillary Clinton, is an example of the morally corrosive energy of the profit motive run rampant.
The Advance’s political editor is Tom Wrobleski, who could qualify for a gold medal when it comes to not responding to calls or e-mails and to recurrently delayed and slant- ed reporting. Not too long after on February 27, 2005 I announced that I was running against Mrs. Clinton, I called the Advance where an editor referred me to Mr. Wrobleski for coverage. Wrobleski immediately gave me an interview and we spent about an hour in his Borough Hall office. As regards coverage, all he would say is “let’s see how your
campaign develops.” From that point on, despite my frequent releases sent to him, his awareness that I had a network of volunteers and supporters, and that I was talking and writing about Mrs. Clinton’s status as a militaristic anti-poor opportunist involved in the cover-up of the Communist Chinese Genocide in Tibet, Wrobleski did not respond and wrote nothing. He showed no interest in my reports of staff abuse of homeless people at the Project Hospitality drop-in center for homeless people, where I had stayed, a very short walk from his office. I went over his head and complained to his superior, News Editor Dean Balsamini, to whom I have a great deal of my campaign literature and UP FRONT News copies at the Advance at its not easy to get to office in Fingerboard Road.
On August 26, 2005 New York City Newsday, a Queens/Long Island-oriented paper that doesn’t usually cover Staten Island, reported my U.S. Senate candidacy as part of its story about Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum’s performance in a televised campaign debate in which she referred to me as a “stalker.” Gotbaum, with whom, via a family member of mine, I’ve been acquainted since 1979, had once tried to have me arrested at her office when I was there for a scheduled appointment with Scott Coccaro, her Chief of Staff to discuss staff abuse of homeless people in drop-in centers and shelters. Fortunate- ly the police officer summoned immediately recognized that Gotbaum’s claim of being
“threatened” was garbage and handled the situation appropriately. He suggested that I
leave and stay away from Gotbaum for awhile. I am hereby urging all New Yorkers, at least electorally, to forever stay away from Betsy Gotbaum, one of New York’s most corrupt officials. It seems that among her reasons for trying to intimidate me - aside from the fact that the “non-profits” that profit from homelessness and curry favor with politi- cians such as Gotbaum (and thereby get away with abusing some of their clients) - is be-
cause she was nervous about people learning that she is quite deeply linked to the CIA.
At least one of her reported two husbands was a CIA agent. My view is that if Ms. Got- baum has a thing for spies, that’s her choice. It is not her choice to withhold that from the public. And so, when, following her aforementioned harassment and slander against me, I learned of Gotbaum’s CIA tie from a highly reliable source, I printed reported it in UP FRONT News. The Times, et. al. got to the story later.
Within a few political moments of the appearance of the Newsday story, and after I met with Daily News reporter Celeste Katz (who did a fairly decent story on August 27) and communicated with Times reporter Jonathan Hicks, who reported is in that newspaper on August 27, I got a call from Wrobleski requesting an “exclusive.” Since Newsday got there first, Wrobleski’s notion of an “exclusive” was a fantasy. In any event, we did a long interview over the phone and his story with a front page lead appeared in the Ad- vance on August 27. It was filled with errors and omitted quotation marks and tried to make Gotbaum look good (an unenviable task) and me, to use a defamatory quote from State Senator Diane Savino, look “scary.” Savino, like her boss Hillary Clinton, some years previously when I was homeless, had screwed me over when I needed emergency assistance in obtaining an expedited Social Security check. It is wild speculation to suggest that Savino and Gotbaum, among a number of other well-connected Democratic “liberals”, like the soon-to-be-mentioned-again Christine Quinn, are political pals, all under Mrs. Clinton’s very watchful eye(s). I complained about the slanted and in places blatantly factually incorrect Wrobleski article to several editors and I was assured of an article containing corrections. It never happened. One editor-columnist told me to write a letter to the editor. I wrote two. She told me that they would not be published but when I asked why she was silent.
Quite belatedly as my Senate campaign was drawing some media attention elsewhere, Dean Balsamini decided to have Wrobleski write a story. On August 21, 2006 a front page piece appeared in the Advance focusing much more on the technicalities of my run- ning as a write-in candidate than on the issues I was emphasizing such as Genocide, the
Iraq War and the assault on the poor, and the spuriousness of other belated “candidates” such as Jonathan Tasini and Green Party boss Howie Hawkins.
A major figure of the very entrenched mostly Democratic Party machine that runs the North Shore of Staten Island, which includes the borough’s least affluent areas such as Stapleton, where I live, is City Councilman Michael E. McMahon. My first calls and e-mails to him requesting a meeting with regard to some very serious constituent matters
involving problems with, aside from the New York City Department of Homeless Services, Project Hospitality, the NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation, and the New York County District Attorney, were ignored. I finally met McMahon several weeks ago at a community meeting at Seaview Hospital featuring City Council Speaker Quinn. Ms. Quinn does not like me. Aside from her having covered up staff abuse of homeless peo- ple at Peter’s Place, a drop-in center in the hear of her district, where I had stayed for a very long time, she has refused to answer my calls and e-mails regarding my proposed
New York City-relevant City Council resolution calling for the U.S. and International
Olympic Committees to pull the 2008 Olympics from Beijing because of the Genocide in Tibet. Indeed, after prolonged lobbying by me some years previously, Ms. Quinn intro- duced Resolution #802 in 2001, which denounced the Chinese for their actions in Tibet.
It passed unanimously - and had zero effect the Chinese and U.S. governments. Why? Because it made no mention of the money issue, which is the corporate playground also known as the Olympics.
When I met McMahon at Seaview, during a break following a Q&A when I reminded Ms. Quinn about the still unanswered January 30, 2006 Tibet/Olympics resolution e-mail I sent to her via her Chief of Staff Chuck Meara and then asking Quinn a heavy question about gentrification-aiding tax giveaways (e.g.. 421-A) she is weak on (not reported in the Swiss Cheese Advance), I briefly told him of my need for his help. He smiled, shook
my hand, and said, “Sure, just call my office.” I not only called; I wrote another e-mail. McMahon’s angry e-mailed reply was, citing his anger at my UP FRONT News criti- cism of Ms. Quinn, to refuse to assist me, advising me to do what I had already done in a not yet legal matter, which is to see an attorney. A subsequent call to an aide led nowhere and a more recent e-mail relating to the Section 8 situation, which affects me, have been ignored.
As far as I am concerned, at the very least Councilman McMahon is refusing to do what, aside from legislating, he is paid to do, which is to assist his constituents. The same hold true for Diane Savino, who apparently “scares” easily. And Michael Bloomberg, who knows all about this, is uninterested. The only other elected official relevant here is that of the State Assemblyman, a seat now vacant with the recent death of John Lavelle.
My recent and extensive telephone conversations with and e-mails to Dean Balsamini and his colleague Marjorie Hack have yielded repeated indications of interest in a politi- cal story that involves significant human rights violations against as Staten Islander, local corruption, the cover-up of a Genocide that even Wrobleski mentioned in his two stories on me, etc., etc. Indeed, Balsamini, after offering to call m y attorney, failed to follow up. All he was able to do was to call Michael McMahon and ask him about me. According to Balsamini, all McMahon would say is “I took his calls.” Dean Balsamini, after explicitly stating to me that he would talk to Wrobleski or perhaps another Advance writer about covering all this, finally said, “I think I’ll pass.”
It is no wonder that, aside from the fact that, unlike for example UP FRONT News, the quite geographically somewhat inner-directed Advance is almost never seen or read out- side of Staten Island, many of those who buy that paper do so for the advertising. Once again, when it comes to covering the news The Advance is in retreat.
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