New York City Councilman Ruben Wills of Queens was arrested today on corruption charges, the latest New York politician to be caught up in investigations apparently triggered by NLPC. According to the New York Daily News:
Wills had been under investigation by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli over tens of thousands of dollars in missing state funds given to a not-for-profit group he once headed, New York 4 Life.
Wills was chief-of staff to former State Senator Shirley Huntley when she arranged for “member items,” the New York State equivalent of an earmark, to Wills’ group. He apparently took a page out of Huntley’s book.
Huntley was arrested in 2012 after a New York Post story, based on information provided by NLPC, detailed how she siphoned off money for personal use from a group that she founded called The Parents Workshop, for which she … Read More ➡
After the global warming-battling Edwardsport coal gasification power plant used more power than it generated during the September-to-November timeframe, earlier this month information filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission showed the Duke Energy facility operated at less than 1 percent of capacity in February.
As Duke wants to recover $1.5 million in costs related to the plant, the state office that advocates for its customers – the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor – wants IURC to more closely scrutinize why Edwardsport’s operation has been such a miserable failure. The much-delayed and fought-over plant had a $1.4 billion cost overrun and as a result is adding an average 16 percent increase to Hoosier State customers’ electric bills.
“The ratepayers of Duke Energy should not be mandated to bear the risks and most of the costs of this boondoggle,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition, to … Read More ➡
General Motors reported lackluster first quarter earnings’ results as the company took a $1.3 billion charge related to recalls. Most of the expenses for the approximately 7 million vehicles recalled, however, were not actually incurred during the first quarter.
In addition, the $1.3 billion figure is far lower than what the recall will cost GM. The power steering recall alone of about 1.5 million vehicles (which was prompted by NLPC’s exposure of the recall delay) is likely to cost more than that. The estimated cost for replacement of power steering columns is in the area of $1,300 per unit, bringing the total for this single recall to roughly $2 billion. That doesn’t include loaner cars.
There will also be legal costs and settlements which are likely to measure in the billions of dollars. Regardless of the extend of what the total costs of GM’s recent recalls will be, … Read More ➡
General Motors still has many questions to answer regarding the recall scandal that saw at least 13 lives lost in accidents involving vehicles with deadly ignition switch defects. GM waited over 10 years to recall the defective vehicles. The company now needs to answer for a seeming lack of compassion for the victims. GM initially blamed drivers of defective vehicles involved in fatal crashes by falsely implying that all of the accidents occurred while driving off-road.
In February of this year, when news of the GM ignition switch recall surfaced, the claim from GM was that all of the crashes caused by the defective switches “occurred off-road and at high speeds.” Here’s the full explanation as reported by the NY Times:
General Motors is recalling about 619,000 small cars in the United States because either a heavy key ring or a “jarring event” such as running off the road
… Read More ➡
Is paying someone an annual salary, as opposed to an hourly wage, a form of exploitation even if the work is identical? President Obama thinks it can be. On March 13, Obama issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Labor to draft a regulation to expand the eligibility of salaried workers to receive overtime pay. The threshold would rise from the current $455 a week to an estimated $970 a week; employees making less effectively would be converted to hourly status and paid at an overtime rate for work done beyond 40 hours in a given week. The president insists the issue is fairness. “Overtime is a pretty simple idea,” he said at the White House ceremony. “If you have to work more, you should get paid more.” Yet the issue isn’t so simple. Indeed, the mandate may wind up reducing employee hours – and increasing employee lawsuits.… Read More ➡
According to documents released today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, General Motors CEO Mary Barra was made aware in 2011 of a steering loss defect in Saturn Ions that were not recalled until March 31 of this year, in apparent response to our request of March 19.
We made the recall demand after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system.
Barra has denied having knowledge of an ignition switch flaw but has not said anything about the steering loss defect, which is a separate problem that affects many of the same vehicles, such as the … Read More ➡
Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon today reports that Michael Bright, a senior advisor to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) who was instrumental in crafting a bill to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has a controversial background.
He worked as at Countrywide Financial from 2002 to 2006, and as a senior trader for Wachovia from 2006 to 2008. Countrywide was the center of a major financial and political scandal, and was a major contributor to the sub-prime loan crisis.
From the article:
Bright joined Corker’s office in 2010, and has been a key figure in crafting the Corker-Warner housing reform bill and the successive legislation spearheaded by Sens. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) and Tim Johnson (D., S.D.).
The Corker-Warner bill has been criticized by ethics groups and free-market advocates for preserving a federal role in the secondary mortgage market, again putting taxpayers on the hook for losses.
Also … Read More ➡
It took a lawsuit by the Wall Street Journal to pry loose information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about which doctors get Medicare reimbursements.
An lo and behold, look who is topping the list. It is Dr. Salomon Melgen, Senator Robert Menendez’ biggest donor, whose eye practice in Palm Beach, Florida has been twice raided by the FBI. Apparently, Melgen was the top recipient of Medicare reimbursements for the whole county. In 2012, he received more than $20 million. The news has put renewed scrutiny on Melgen and his relationship with Menendez, which is reportedly under investigation by federal law enforcement authorities.
The probe was reportedly initiated after media reports that Menendez intervened on Melgen’s behalf with government officials regarding a Medicare billing dispute and a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.
Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February … Read More ➡
The Reverend Al Sharpton, anchorman, preacher, politician and shakedown artist extraordinaire, has led what can be viewed as a charmed life. A lengthy expose published yesterday on The Smoking Gun website (see pdf) provides some insight as to why. Starting in 1983, the New York-based civil rights activist, who 20 years later would run for president, allegedly worked for several years as an FBI informant to avoid prosecution. In return for helping the feds root out organized crime from the entertainment industry, Sharpton since then has operated with near immunity. “The Rev” denies he worked as an informant, adding that the report simply rehashes “old news.” Yet the weight of evidence, carefully amassed by Smoking Gun editor/co-founder William Bastone, can’t be ignored. Sharpton might consider hiring an extra bodyguard.
As the host of MSNBC-TV’s “PoliticsNation” program since the summer of 2011, as well as his own radio show, Al Sharpton, now 59, … Read More ➡
On April 1st, General Motors announced that they were having “computer system” issues and that their March sales figures would not be released until later in the day. The company eventually reported a year over year sales gain of about four percent versus an estimate of less than a one percent gain. This came as GM CEO, Mary Barra, was preparing to testify at hearings over the recent GM recall scandal which is reported to have contributed to at least 13 deaths. Coincidentally, GM share price had been taking a hit as well.
My immediate thought during the sales release delay was that the company was not quite done cooking the numbers. Of course, this is speculative and just my opinion, but the fact that GM has been anything but trustworthy in the past led others to share my sentiment. One website title read, “General Motors Delays Sales Announcement Due … Read More ➡