29 January 2014

The Law is Going to the Dogs: My Story

My previous post about a New Jersey criminal trial produced a larger positive response than any I can recall. Many said they loved the lawyer “war stories”.   Oh boy, as Jimmy Durante said, “I gotta million of em.” Most of the stories one hears at legal meetings or at dinner parties are half and half, i.e., 50% real, 50% bullshit.  Mine are guaranteed 98% real, 1% forgotten minor details, and 1% just plain exaggeration.

Recently, a friend sent us a YouTube video of a talking parrot, and I emailed her this response:

“Lee, thanks for the parrot video. I too have dealt with talking animals. Here's my story:  

Many years ago, I had a Weimaraner who “sang.”  If I sang, she mimicked me by whimpering, howling, crying, whatever sounds a dog can make that track human pitch.  Blue II was simply adorable.  

So there I was, a young litigator at a major NYC law firm, and my boss partner takes me to a meeting with this big time real estate developer who has a litigation problem.  Big powwow. (One of my clients referred to meetings of this kind as “Elephant Fucks”. When I asked him to explain, he said there were three characteristics in common: I) the meeting takes place at a very high level, ii) there is a lot of trumpeting and foot stamping, and iii) nothing happens thereafter for a very long time.”)

Okay, back to this particular conference. The distinguished elderly client insisted it be for lunch, at his penthouse. The group was large, as these assemblies tend to be.  Present are the client, his son, his CEO, his in-house lawyer, an outside real estate lawyer from another firm, that lawyer's young partner, the real estate partner from my firm who brought in the client, the litigation partner who is my boss, and me. Maybe some others.  I am estimating at least10-12 people at the long table. One thing I recall with dead certainty: I was the lowest guy on the totem pole, and while the client is at the head of the table surrounded by legal poobahs, I am at the other end of the table--in the cheap seats.

We all sit down to lunch but before the butler brings out the first course, out prances a Weimaraner who sits down at the client’s side.  The dog is drop-dead gorgeous—he could be twin brother to my Weimaraner, Blue II. The client’s pooch has a dripping wet muzzle, which the realty tycoon gently wipes dry with his starched linen luncheon napkin. The other guests are appalled. I chuckle. It is exactly what I would have done.  The client apologizes to the group.  He explains that he puts out water bowls, but the pooch prefers to drink out of the toilet. I cannot believe this and struggle to cope with Rule One in the Young Associates’ Handbook for Conduct at Client Meetings:  “Do not speak unless you are asked a direct question.”

But I simply can not help myself. It’s like talking about your child. So I ignore the facing double row of higher-ranking meeting attendees, and address the client at the other end of the table directly: “Amazing”, I volunteer, “I have a Weimaraner who is a double for yours. And she too loves to drink out of the toilet.  Indeed, if we leave the toilet lid down, she whines until we lift it for her.”

Here we are in the Situation Room, and the Generals and Admirals are silently fuming at the Corporal who, unbidden, dares speak directly to the Commander in Chief. And about dogs, yet!

Too bad for them. The client is now into this. He tells me he too has tried the close-the-toilet-lid maneuver and been whimpered into submission by his beautiful blue-eyed dumb-child. From that point on, the real estate magnate and I might as well have been the only people in the room.  After some more dog stories, he tells me his dog sings! He demonstrates: He croons, and the dog lifts his nose to the ceiling, opens his mouth, and croons. The client howls and the dog howls. The client whimpers, and the dog imitates him. The rest of the meeting attendees are struggling to hide their eye-rolling mockery of this performance.  I, on the other hand, am astonished by this parallel. I tell the client my dog does the same! He gives me a skeptical look. So I croon and there are clacks of toenails on the polished oaken floor as the dog approaches me, sits down at my side, looks at me with those gorgeous blues, and croons! I howl and the dog howls. The client cheers.

The other lawyers at the table are now beyond furious. They are gnashing their teeth. No business is getting done and the lowest guy on the totem pole is monopolizing this very important client.

We ultimately did get down to business and the problem was solved. I do not remember how, but what I do remember is that some time later the client got into a problem with the District Attorney and called me, now a first year partner at my law firm. I helped him. A few years later, the client's son had a business problem and he called me. That too worked out well.

I am not sure, but my mentor, the partner who took me to the first meeting, just may have been a bit out of sorts because the client called me and not him. But hey, he did not have a Weimaraner.  He didn't even have a dog!  Served him right.

Another stepping stone in my career at the bar. Do I owe some of my success to my darling crooning Blue II? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, loved that pup. She is in my pantheon of best friends.”

A bientot.

19 January 2014

Christie, The Bridge, Corruption. Full Circle New Jersey Hustle?

“What did he know and when did he know it?” has apparently now taken second place to “Why did they do it?”  For sure there was no bona fide “traffic study”.  All else is inference.  While the leading speculation has been that the lane closings were related to the current Fort Lee Mayor’s failure to endorse Christie, articles in the New York Times and elsewhere now report that a knowledgeable New Jersey legislator has splashed cold water on the retribution-for-non-endorsement theory;  the  punishment seems not to fit the crime.  Instead, he suggests the lane closings are related to a real estate development immediately adjacent to the traffic lanes at the Fort Lee terminus of the bridge--a billion dollar project favored by the current Fort Lee Mayor. 

This real estate development has a dramatic history: it was first proposed in the early seventies, and quickly morphed into a saga involving reputed mafia figures, noted real estate moguls, the former mayor of Fort Lee, two of Christie’s predecessors in the U.S. Attorney’s office, a Long Island shopping center developer, and a large cast of attorneys, including me.  In all, a non-comic drama that might reasonably be called “New Jersey Hustle.”

Here is that story. 

In 1973, a successful Long Island shopping center developer named Nathan Serota came to see me.  He had just been indicted by a New Jersey federal grand jury on three counts of conspiracy to bribe Fort Lee’s Mayor Burt Ross, in order to secure the necessary permits to build a 47 story building at site of the current bridge parcel project.  Also indicted along with Nat were prominent real estate mogul Norman Dansker, two of his colleagues, his real estate development company Investors Funding Corporation,  a New Jersey electrical contractor Valentine Electric, and its representative, one Joey Diaco.  (Valentine Electric had earlier been accused of being headed by a mafia boss.  The accuser was one Frederick Lacey, then the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.)

Serota’s story was simple, and before he met me, he told it to the prosecutor who indicted him. Indeed, the facts, as to Serota, were never contested by the prosecutor:  Nat and his family lived in a condominium apartment in a Fort Lee high rise with a sensational view of the New York skyline.  The real estate project proposed by Dansker et al,  would have inserted an ugly blot on Serota’s skyline view, and the years-long construction would destroy his family’s tranquility.  So he did what so many others do all the time:  “NIMBY—not in my back yard,”said Serota, and  he campaigned vigorously against the project, gave money to groups opposing it, and, accompanied by his real estate lawyer, attended local hearings where he voiced his opposition. The project was voted down, but the proponents came up with a slightly amended plan, and Serota’s battle was renewed—at least until Nat was visited at home by Valentine Electric’s Joey Diaco.   Joey made Nat an offer he couldn’t refuse: If Serota would cease his opposition to the project, the promoters would buy his apartment for twice its market value.  Nat accepted. After all, he could care less about the view from an apartment in which he no longer lived, and Vivian wanted to move to New York City anyway.  

Did Nat accept money for advocating, or changing his advocacy, of a political position?  Sure.  Was that a crime? Yes, argued Mr. Jonathan Goldstein, the US Attorney.  His view was that under New Jersey law, anyone who took money to advocate or modify a political position was a criminal—a notion that totally ignores something called the First Amendment, and which, if applied by the prosecutor’s terms, arguably might criminalize all lobbying activity.  Ridiculous, you say? Yet the prosecutor went forward with his case.  To bolster his accusation, he argued that because Nat was an unpaid member of the Fort Lee Parking Authority--, the group that oversaw the collection of quarters from municipal parking meters—Nat was a “public official.”  The prosecutor conceded that this honorary position had nothing whatever to do with the real estate project in question,  but he could not resist the opportunity to hang the “public official” label on Serota as if it had some relevance. And the District Judge to whom the case was assigned (yup, Goldstein’s predecessor, the former US Attorney, Frederick Lacey),  sustained that view.

But what Nat did not know when he agreed to sell his apartment was there was another drama being played out on an adjacent stage:  Diaco, representing Valentine Electric, (which  had been promised the electrical contract for the project) had also visited a real public official, Burt Ross, the Mayor of Fort Lee. Joey offered the mayor $500,000 if  he would approve the project. Ross reported the encounter to the FBI and agreed to wear a wire. Diaco and his boss were in the soup when Joey delivered a suitcase with a $25,000 cash down payment to Ross at a Fort Lee diner.  The mayor took the suitcase to the bathroom, counted the cash,  and entertained his FBI listeners with his version of  the hit song from the Broadway production of Annie, “We’re in the money, we’re in the money,….”

The Trial:

The wire transcriptions of the bribe offer to the mayor were, as you might expect, devastating to defendants Diaco and Valentine Electric.  And  a cooperating witness connected to the  developer accepted a misdemeanor plea and testified against the Dansker team to tie them into the plot.

At no time was there any evidence Nat Serota had anything to do with the Burt Ross bribery effort, or even that he had any knowledge of it before the indictment was published, but the prosecutor nevertheless insisted on charging him with a conspiracy to bribe the mayor, and, at least during the trial, Nat was a fly stuck in the prosecution’s web.

At the end of the prosecution case lawyers for all the parties moved to dismiss the three-count indictment. While lawyers almost always do this, they rarely expect to win.  I thought otherwise: any fair-minded judge would surely see that there was no evidence Nat Serota was involved in the scheme to bribe Ross, and Serota’s sale of his apartment and consequent withdrawal from the political scene was clearly innocent, legally protected behavior.

Hah.  District Judge Lacy denied all the motions instantly.  All of them, and we went to court the next day prepared to put on the defendant’s case.  But before we entered the courtroom, Lacey’s deputy approached me and said the judge wanted me to reargue my motion. Nobody else but me.  A ray of sunshine!  I did so, and Lacey threw out the Ross bribery charges against Serota, agreeing there was not a shred of evidence tying Serota to the conspiracy to bribe Ross.  But the judge left in the flawed charge that Serota was the recipient of a bribe by reason of his written agreement to sell his apartment at a premium and cease his opposition to the development. 

That created what proved to be an impossible hurdle to a fair trial for Nat.  Why? We argued that the jury could not reasonably be expected to differentiate between the damning evidence against Dansker and Diaco, et al, and the dramatically different story of the sale of Serota’s apartment.  They were now two different bribery cases, two different bribes, two different bribees, (Ross and Serota) and it was now clear Serota had nothing to do with the Ross bribery attempt.  But former prosecutor Lacey, a very bright guy, had nevertheless gone as far as he was willing to go, and he kept Serota in the case on one count-- that Serota accepted a bribe by agreeing to sell his apartment and to cease his campaign against the bridge parcel project.

As we predicted, Lacey’s decision generated a pile-up of error and confusion when it came to summations.  At our request, the judge instructed Goldstein that in his summation he must differentiate the evidence of the two conspiracies.  In other words, when he talked about the evidence of the Ross bribery, he had to make clear this evidence could not be used in their deliberations of Serota’s guilt or innocence with respect to the one count remaining against him, the so-called apartment sale in which Serota was the alleged bribee.

Summation procedures differ.  In New Jersey, the defense went first, then the prosecutor. That’s it.  No rebuttal.  My summation was short, uncomplicated.  I reminded the jury Serota had now been cleared of the Ross bribery allegations, knew nothing about that claim, and as to the sale of his apartment, he did what anyone else what do in his circumstance. He took the "NIMBY"  not in my backyard approach to the construction project: No secrets. The contract to sell his apartment was a lawyer-drafted document.  No harm, no foul.

Goldstein did not object to one word I said.  But when his turn came, it was a different story.  I think he did try to obey the judge’s admonition to separate the two bribe cases in his marshalling of the evidence, but the task was impossible:  after all, though Serota had nothing to do with the Ross bribery, Diaco et al were accused of bribing both Ross and Serota, so evidence of both “bribes” were admissible against all defendants except Serota . Again and again, Goldstein failed to separate out the evidence--the eggs were already scrambled.  The result was each time he lumped “the defendants” to a piece of evidence, I objected and insisted he differentiate between the Ross bribery counts and the Serota bribery count.    Over and over again.  The judge agreed each time I objected, but after a while, he just said something like, “yes, the jury is so instructed.” Confusion reigned. On the Friday before the Easter weekend, the prosecutor summed up in the morning, the judge charged the jury, deliberations began at 1 P.M. and the verdict came in three hours later:  All defendants guilty on all counts.

Three trial anecdotes worth repeating, one humorous, the other two not:

1. At a recess after the summations, and before the judge charged the jury, a short grey-haired woman of a certain age, wearing a fur coat, angrily approached me in the corridor.  I had seen her in the courtroom but had no idea who she was. “Mr. London,” she said, “ I am Jonathan Goldstein’s mother and I am furious at your behavior.  I am calling your partner Simon Rifkind and complaining about you.  My  son never interrupted your summation. Not once. But you interrupted him 12 times!  I know Rifkind and am calling him at once!”  I apologized to Mrs. Goldstein.

2.  Before the trial, some of the defendants had moved for Judge Lacey to recuse himself because of his earlier statements tying Valentine Electric’s owner to the mafia,  but Lacey’s denial of the motion was sustained on appeal.  But some of us saw plenty of anti-defendant leanings at the trial.  The most notable and unique, in my experience, was Lacey’s charge to the jury.  Of course,  we asked him to remind the jury of the legal standard that if they found any reasonable doubt about guilt, they were obliged to acquit, and we submitted language to that effect—standard language that had been approved by higher courts. The judge agreed to, and did  read our language to the jury.  But while the rest of the charge was delivered at a normal pace, when it came to the reasonable doubt section, Lacey raced through as if he were trying to win a speed-reading contest. His words were barely discernible to us, and we had submitted them!  We were shocked. None of us had ever seen anything like that.

When he was finished, the judge sent jury out, and asked counsel if they had any objection to his charge. I turned to my colleague Max Gitter, who had the responsibility for preparing and submitting our requested charge language, poked him hard in the ribs, and said “Max, you gotta object!”  Max whispered, “What should I say?” I responded in a stage whisper that I am sure Lacey heard, “Tell him to say it once more, with feeling.” 
Max did object to the speed reading and the judge reacted with fury. His face reddened, he raised his voice, said this was a personal attack, (duh, after all, he was the one who did it) and he refused our request.

At the next recess, there was a knock on our counsel room door, and in came the court reporter.  He said, “Mr. London, I have been a court reporter in this courtroom for 12 years and I have never heard such speed-reading of a portion of a charge. I can prove what he did.  In order to produce daily copy of the transcript, as the judge  reads  his charge, he puts finished pages up on the ledge, where the revolving reporters take it back and use the judge’s script to input and correct the words on their stenograph machines.  In order to maintain order, each batch of the judge’s script is marked by the pick-up reporter with the time of his pick-up. Those time notations show that the reasonable doubt charge portion of the charge was read at 2-3 times the speed of the rest of the charge.  If you need it, Mr. London,  I can supply the evidence for your appeal!”. Yikes.

3. Sentencing:  The maximum sentence for each count was 5 years. He could give less, but not more.  And where multiple counts were involved, it was within the judge’s discretion to say whether the individual sentences be served concurrently, (in effect, so that all sentences would be served at the same time and the duration of jail-time is the same as if convicted on only a single count) or consecutively, so three five year sentences would yield fifteen years in prison. Lacey gave the other defendants maximum consecutive sentences, i.e., fifteen years.  Serota, of course, was found guilty of only one count, and the good judge indicated he would have preferred to give Nat the full fifteen, but alas, could not do so!  At least that’s the way we all heard it. He sentenced Serota to the max; five years in federal prison.

4.  All lawyers hate to lose. All. But losing a criminal case when you know in your gut that your client did nothing wrong, and the case was a total miscarriage of justice that you let happen, is simply the worst. When the verdict came in that Friday afternoon I was bereft. How could I have failed to protect an innocent client? I was full of “shoulda’s”. I shoulda done this, I shoulda done that, whatever. Sleep evaded me Friday night.  No amount of red wine put me under.

But Saturday morning, at 11 ayem, I got a call from Nat. “Get up, shower, shave, and dress!  Vivian and I are picking you up in the Rolls, and we are going for a champagne lunch!”  I said, “Nat, what are you smoking? You just got convicted at trial and for sure that guy is going to give you five years!”  Nat, bless him, responded, “Fuck em, Marty.  I did nothing wrong, and you’re gonna get me off! We’ll be at your door in hour.” I get goose bumps writing this.

The Appeal

I argued Nat’s appeal In February, 1976, and June of that year found me  in New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, in traction with a herniated disk.  I was miserable. It is tough to sleep with those sandbags pulling on your ankles.  One night, at 10 PM, long after visiting hours had expired, I heard a commotion in the normally quiet corridor outside my room.  I thought I heard Nat Serota arguing with a nurse, telling her he needed to speak to me at once, I was his lawyer, and this was an emergency.  Over the nurse’s strident objections, Nat and Vivian barged into my room carrying a shopping bag. We all cried and kissed, Nat pulled a champagne bottle and stemware out of the shopping bag, and we celebrated his appellate victory.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals had that morning unanimously reversed Nat’s conviction.  It found that Lacey had erred in accepting the prosecution’s overbroad theory that would have dramatically expanded criminalization of First Amendment freedoms, and that Nat’s membership on the Parking Meter board was totally irrelevant.  The Court did not use the words “red herring” but that was substance of the holding. Bottom line, Nat did nothing wrong.

 Most criminal convictions are affirmed on appeal, and while there are some reversals, they usually end up with a direction for a new trial.  Not this time: The result of the Third Circuit opinion was that the District Court was required to enter a judgment of acquittal of Nathan Serota.

Because we were able to knock out the Serota count, two of the three counts against the other defendants fell by the wayside, and their sentences were reduced to five years.  Subsequent legal motions then further reduced those sentences drastically.

Small world sequillae:

Thirty years later, when I retired, the real estate broker produced a buyer for our vacation home;  a nephew of Norman Dansker bought the house.

The Bridge parcel was thereafter acquired by a former client of mine, Leona Helmsley, and she sold it to a predecessor of the current developers.

Burt Ross wrote a book about his experience. We found something else in common in 2008 when it was revealed we were both victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Nat Serota, who was my dear friend for almost forty years, died at home in his New York City apartment at the age of 90, in 2010.  When he learned I had been stung by Bernie Madoff, Nat immediately called me and me asked if I was alright, and did I need money. Happily the answer was “No”, but I nevertheless treasure that call.

Judge Lacey left the bench in 1986.  Years later we chatted once or twice at legal functions. We did not discuss the trial. He was not jocular.

Ten years after the trial, Jonathan Goldstein and I encountered each other at Newark Airport when our kids were on the same plane to a summer trip. We had a pleasant chat. We did not discuss the trial. He is, as far as I know, working the other side of the street as a defense lawyer.

I have  not yet discovered a personal connection to Chris Christie.  But it ain’t over till it’s over. And for sure, this ain’t over.

A bientot.

11 January 2014

On Whining

Hard to complain about a trip to our tropical isle.  But let me try:

Jet Blue, having cancelled all flights on Monday, had a near riot on its hands at its JFK terminal on Wednesday. Well, at least I was prepared to riot. Times Square on New Year's Eve was, relatively speaking, a gracious lawn party. At JFK, the Jet Blue staff was overwhelmed.  Who knew that when you cancel all flights, the following days would be extra-busy? JB needed Bloomberg management, and instead apparently got refugees from the Obamacare computer sign-up program.  Madness. Lucky for us our plane was an hour late, otherwise it would have departed while Pinks and I, along with the rest of the cattle, were snaking back and forth in the bag-drop corral.  Moo!

It's all about expectations: much more forgivable was the Winair flight experience in the hop from St. Maarten to Paradise.  By 2:30 PM we were at the Winair desk in SXM, checking our baggage and seeking boarding passes for our 3:10 flight.  But in a Seinfeldian scene, the Winair lady told us we did indeed have a reservation for the 3:10 plane, but it had left at 2:25.  If you do not know what Jerry's response would have been, ask an older person.

We did catch a later Winair flight. Our luggage? That arrived two hours later, on the last flight before they closed the St. Barths airport at dusk.  Hey, same day luggage arrival is a Winair treat.

So, 12 hours after starting out, having eaten nothing since 5 ayem, we sat on our villa deck in the dark, wearing shorts and t-shirts, drinking Belvedere (Pinks) and Tanqueray (moi), munching on Saltines--the famous St. Barths cuisine at its best.
Note to psychiatric professors in medical school : Forget prescription tranqs,--It is impossible to maintain a high-stress mien while getting looped on gin and tonic in a tropical clime, while staring out at the megayachts anchored in the bay.  There were five such vessels out there that night.  All we could see, of course, were the lights. Lights on the deck and the superstructure one would expect, but inasmuch as the first job of a boat is to keep the water out, why would any sentient being drill holes in the hull, under the waterline yet, just to install lights that serve no purpose other than to twinkle as the wavelets lap against the ship?  Do the lights leak? Murphy's Law says of course they do.  My roof leaks and it is 200 feet above sea level. .

But hey, the lights look great from our chaise lounges, and I thank the yacht owners for the sight of those twinkling behemoths that are required to anchor in our front yard because they are too large to tie up at the quay in Gustavia Harbor. (The harbor can not accommodate any ship larger than 180 feet.  Think about that: a north-south city block is about 200 feet. The biggest ship in our front yard now is Luna, 377 feet.)

Lest you think we are in heaven here, know that the gods still do their best to punish us: Our high-tech Carib tv system is stuck on CNN!  Can you imagine having Wolf Blitzer as a permanent guest in your living room? The plus side is that it poured on Thursday and I got to watch the entire Christie press conference. Schadenfreude is my middle name. It doesn't get much better than this.

And for sure, our precip is rain, not snow, and because I would rather sit indoors under my leaky roof than sit on my  beach chair  under my  leaky umbrella, we stay home when it is raining and start drinking  earlier in the day. This beats working.

Come on down!

A bientot.

03 January 2014

The DeBlasio/Snowden Affair

Following is an exchange of correspondence with friend Rick Fischbein, who, you will be surprised to learn, swears he did not vote for Mayor DeBlasio:

"Today I listened to our new Mayor give his inaugural address and was so appalled that I re-read his actual words in the "Grey Lady" (a double whammy for me on New Years Day),  just to see if my old ears accurately heard his "class warfare" rant. Alas, I can still hear. 
After reading DeBlasio's call to arms, I immediately used my extremely limited cyber ability and found a single paragraph written by Abe Lincoln. 
Below I have included some of what DeBlasio said today and the one paragraph by Honest Abe. 
"So let me be clear. When I said we would take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities, I meant it. And we will do it. I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed as One City. We know this won’t be easy; It will require all that we can muster..........
We’ll do it now. We will require big developers to build more affordable housing. We’ll fight to stem the tide of hospital closures. And we’ll expand community health centers into neighborhoods in need, so that New Yorkers see our city not as the exclusive domain of the One Percent, but a place where everyday people can afford to live, work, and raise a family. We won’t wait. We’ll do it now.........
We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day universal pre-K and after-school programs for every middle school student. And when we say “a little more,” we can rightly emphasize the “little.”.......
Think about it. A five-year tax on the wealthiest among us – with every dollar dedicated to pre-K and after-school. Asking those at the top to help our kids get on the right path and stay there. That’s our mission. And on that, we will not wait. We will do it now.
Of course, I know that our progressive vision isn’t universally shared. Some on the far right continue to preach the virtue of trickle-down economics. They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else. They sell their approach as the path of “rugged individualism.”
But Fiorello La Guardia — the man I consider to be the greatest Mayor this city has ever known — put it best. He said: “I, too, admire the ‘rugged individual,’ but no ‘rugged individual’ can survive in the midst of collective starvation.” [Failed to mention we were in the Great Depression when La Guardia made this statement]. 
So please remember: we do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories........"

Abe Lincoln:

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves." --Abraham Lincoln 

OK, so you might ask, "what am I prepared to do to stop New York from becoming the first "Soviet Socialist Borough State?" 
An excellent question. 
Normally, I would go on my annual "New Year Resolution 15 day diet"!
Not this year Mr DeBlasio!
This year I am dedicated to gaining as much weight as possible, so that when you, Mr DeBlasio, send out your posse to round up all the "Fat Cats", there will be No Mistaking me! 

P.S. Please don't tell Mimi that I am not dieting!"
My response follows:


Not to worry.  Forget about finance, taxes, budgets, all that boring technical stuff. The key to municipal success is confidence. We need to keep our chins up. The new Mayor knows this. So I was not surprised to learn this afternoon (from a highly placed confidential source in the service of a former POTUS (No, my source did not also service the FLOTUS) that the successor to the NYC Director of Communications will be none other than Mr. Edward Snowden.  DeB is now confident Mr. Snowden will soon be able to return to the US without penalty because The New York Times has just this morning opined that he should.  Word is that upon his return,  Mr. Snowden will be given a ticker tape parade.  This report is confirmed by the fact the old Bloomberg Department of Sanitation is saving all New Year's Eve vomit-specked confetti for use on that occasion.

To facilitate the organization and execution of the parade, the Mayor has created a new municipal agency and has appointed as its head Mr. Glenn Greenwald, the British reporter who first published the Snowden leaks of NSA documents. Mr. Greenwald thereafter helped Snowden find a new home under protection of the internationally renowned free speech advocate, Vladimir Putin.  Mr. DeBlasio's new cabinet officer will bear the title "Administrative Head of Leadership Events."  The New York Times editorial board can rest easy: The new AHOLE is already free to enter the United States without penalty.

Chin up and carry on."

A bientot!