We The People: Money matters in D.C. and New York City

A new Civil War has started in Washington, D.C. Democrats and Republicans can get along, but the Republican Party is fighting the Tea Party! The current budget compromise bill passed by Congress is a rare and hopeful signal that bipartisan cooperation can be practical.

Conservatives are threatening Republicans who supported the compromise that they will have trouble with reelection. Speaker Boehner displayed courage by putting these groups on notice that he does not care what they say or do any longer.

It is good that our representatives can work together for a better future. In Washington, D.C., hundreds of supporters gathered to a kick off fund raising for Hillary Clinton’s future presidential campaign.

Locally, Representative Michael Grimm is in campaign finance hot water again. “Mikey Suits” looked rumpled when questioned about the arrest of his former girlfriend Diana Durand on charges that she evaded election law restrictions to funnel illegal contributions to Grimm. It is alleged “straw” donors were used to get Grimm contributions that exceeded election law limits.

The FBI is also investigating him for campaign contributions received from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. That probe stalled because the Israeli Justice Ministry, investigating Pinto for bribery in Israel, will not cooperate with the FBI investigation of Grimm. The Federal Election Commission reported that the 2014 Grimm campaign accepted contributions from GOP politicians that exceeded the $2,600 limit for single donors.

U.S. Attorney Bharara announced that JP Morgan Chase will pay $1.7 billion in forfeiture of profits and a $350 million dollar fine for its part in facilitating the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme that ruined thousands of investors. The bank and others ignored “red flags” that Madoff conducted no investment activity, but failed to take any action.

The bank made billions just by warehousing the crook’s ill gotten gains so it made business sense to remain quiet. The Supreme Court recognizes that corporate entities have a right to free speech and to make political campaign contributions so maybe they have the right to remain silent if investigated.

It would be better for society to make corporations and individuals obey fair laws that protect consumers and citizens rather than trying to catch, prosecute and possibly punish malefactors after crimes are committed.

The fight to save Long Island College Hospital is turning into a drama to save SUNY Downstate. The University Hospital at Downstate teaches doctors and serves a large and needy population. It must remain open. However, newspaper reports fail to give the people information about how these hospitals got into a financial crisis in the first place.

LICH made money and was solvent until the Continuum Group took over and bled it dry. The management that ruined the hospital also dissipated “untouchable” philanthropic trust funds donated to the hospital.

Where did the money go? A politically connected businessman, Stanley Brezenoff, arranged the takeover and Continuum controlled patient billing even after Downstate assumed management, despite the fact that Continuum was a complete failure.

Continuum and Downstate claimed LICH ran a $13 million loss every month but never explained where that number came from or how much it cost to operate the hospital before Continuum took over.

The driving force for a LICH closure is the enormous value of its real estate in Cobble Hill. Political connected people will reap billions when the “unsustainable” hospital has its assets turned over to investors.

Meanwhile, Downstate is mounting a campaign to close its own University Hospital. Remarkably, its hospital is also unsustainable unless it receives $396 million from the taxpayers over four years. I wonder why it didn’t know that when it accepted the responsibility of operating LICH.

After a state lawsuit prevented any chance for a quick buck from a real estate fire sale, Downstate realized that “Brooklyn healthcare is broken and needs a game-changing solution.”

If healthcare is truly broken, how can a hospital corporation like KaiserPermanente pay executives millions in salary and millions in bonuses? How does SUNY Downstate pay its president, Dr. John Williams, $650,000 a year with a house and car allowance as well as a dozen other $200,000 executive salaries?

Stay tuned and stay healthy.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.