Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mariano round-up (deluge edition)

  • Yesterday's indictment news gets fleshed out a bit in today's story.
    The grand jury alleged that in exchange for paying $23,000 in credit-card bills and providing a fancy gym membership, Mariano helped his codefendants acquire a significant tax break, a lucrative city contract, and valuable vacant city land at a discount.

    Mariano also participated in a cover-up, according to a 26-count indictment that made him the first elected city official charged with public corruption since 1991.
    Altogether, theese charges (detailed extensively here) would have a minimum sentence of 10 years. All charges denied, of course, and Mariano insists he will remain on City Council.

  • The Daily News recaps the same tale, pointing out the familiar themes of payola and back-scratching.
    Mariano, indicted yesterday along with five friends for bribery, conspiracy and other federal charges, was short on cash in 2002 as one marriage ended, another was starting and his City Council paychecks were frozen in a dispute over redistricting. He sought help from friends who used their businesses to pay his bills, investigators charge.
    . . .
    "This indictment tells a story which is becoming very familiar: A public servant uses his position to help those who will help him," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan. "Bribes and gifts, those were the benefits for which Rick Mariano sold his office and sold out the very people that he represents."
    hmmm... ethics reform, anyone?

  • A second DN story looks more closely at all six men indicted in this set of investigations. [Note that the individuals charged appear in all-caps; the names alone on lines in-between appear to be the reporters who did the profiles, an unfortunate source of confusion.]

  • A short piece looks at political foes who might be waiting in the wings for a possible special election or other way into Mariano's Council seat. 2007 could get quite lively!

  • A longer piece looks at the various stances of Mariano's colleagues with regard to his innocence, whether he should stay in office and/or just keep away from Council hearings, et al. If convicted, he must resign, but what to do meantime is a source of very delicate opining, especially with so much ethics legislation sure to be under discussion.

  • Rounding out the perky local DN coverage, columnist Jill Porter adds a bit of a rant about corrupt politicians. She points out that voters can begin to vent their frustration by voting up the Charter Change bill on the ballot in two weeks, which will allow the first 'Nutter ethics bill' to go into effect.
    The truth is, there's no legislation that can prevent corrupt politicians from enriching themselves at taxpayers' expense.

    But serious ethics legislation would send a different message to public officials than the one they're getting now.

    It would curtail the city's cozy insider culture and create a different mindset about public service, as in: shenanigans won't be tolerated.
    More on that in just a minute...


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