Ex-NY State Senate Leader Malcolm Smith Gets Seven Years

Former New York Senator Malcolm Smith was yesterday sentenced to seven years in prison for bribery and related offenses. He was convicted in February. A former majority leader in the New York Senate, Smith was defeated for re-election in 2014.

Smith is the latest associate of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) headed to jail. Formal investigations of several New York politicians began in 2010 after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) exposed corruption through stories in the New York Post, New York Times and New York Daily News.

The first story, in the New York Post of January 31, 2010, focused on a nonprofit called New Direction Local Development Corporation, which according to its website, was founded by Meeks and Smith.

Our review of IRS tax returns, New York state budget records, and other documents suggested that New Direction did little development. Instead, it operated to the … Read More ➡

Tesla, Nissan Take Financial Hits as States Remove EV Subsidies

Elon Musk ModelSIt’s been six years since electric vehicle manufacturers enjoyed their windfall from U.S. taxpayers via the stimulus, but the thirst for subsidies, and pain from financial losses, have not waned.

The pursuit of government goodies continues apace for Tesla Motors, even more vigorously after the Los Angeles Times reported last month that CEO Elon Musk depends on more than $4.9 billion in corporate welfare for his companies, which also include SolarCity and SpaceX.

Tesla’s quest may more accurately be portrayed as preservation of the golden goose that is California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credit scheme. The Golden State requires the six largest auto manufacturers to produce a certain percentage of vehicles that are “green” – in other words, electric – or to purchase zero-emission “credits” from companies that do, such as Tesla. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Tesla is the largest seller of ZEV credits, … Read More ➡

GM Hypes Yet Another “Tesla Killer” – the Chevy Bolt

General Motors seems intent on becoming the global leader in producing money-losing vehicles that attempt to compete with Tesla. The latest so-called Tesla Killer from GM is the Chevy Bolt and the hype is beginning with media articles such as With Jab at Tesla, GM Amps Up Chevy Bolt Promotion, Testing. GM shareholders need this latest sequel to the Tesla Killer series as much as movie aficionados need another sequel of Police Academy.

OK, I’m sure there are many fans of the b-rated Police Academy series, just as there are fans of the previous GM versions of Tesla Killers. The difference is, b-rated movies are produced with low budgets; not so with GM Tesla Killers. GM (and taxpayers) have spent billions of dollars to produce the initial series of much-hyped electric vehicles which were never a hit with mainstream consumers. That growing list of vehicles includes the Chevy Volt Read More ➡

Hillary Aide Cheryl Mills Double-Dipped While State Dept. Chief of Staff

Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon details today how Cheryl Mills, one of Hillary Clinton’s longtime underlings, apparently collected a paycheck from New York University at the same time she was serving as Chief of Staff of the State Department. According to the article:

After joining the State Department in the beginning of 2009, Mills continued to serve as general counsel for New York University for several months. She also sat on the board of the “NYU in Abu Dhabi Corporation,” the fundraising arm for the university’s UAE satellite campus. The school is bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi government and has been criticized by NYU professors and human rights activists for alleged labor abuses.

The UAE is a major funder of the Clinton Foundation, on whose board Mills sat. The article quotes NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm:

“Federal of conflict interest statutes are very strict, and they want to ensure

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N.J. Supreme Court Says ‘No’ to Unions; Allows Gov. Christie to Delay Pension Payments

Whether one sees New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as confronting or punting, it’s hard to deny he knows a crisis when he sees one. The State Supreme Court sees one as well. On June 9, the Court ruled 5-2 that Christie was within bounds in delaying two years of contributions, nearly $2.5 billion, to the state’s chronically underfunded public-employee pension system. The ruling, a clear blow to the unions who brought forth the suit, for now averts a fiscal calamity. Critics claim that Christie, expected shortly to enter the Republican presidential race, broke a law he signed in 2011, passing the buck to his successors. Supporters counter that the ruling gives the legislature breathing room to fix a condition resulting from years of excessive union contract demands. The latter is a familiar story in other states, too.

For several years, state employee pension systems have threatened to become a national … Read More ➡

Will the UAW Bury GM in Upcoming Negotiations?

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United Auto Workers union (UAW) was drawing up contingency plans to strike if upcoming negotiations with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles do not satisfy UAW officials. The UAW is leveraging the good timing of the negotiations, which are occurring at the same time as the auto industry’s cyclical top.

Will history repeat itself with GM eventually driven to a second bankruptcy if the UAW is successful in raising labor costs at the automaker? The stage seems to be set for the UAW to further put unionized automakers at a disadvantage to automakers with lower labor costs in a very competitive industry. The current US hourly labor cost at GM is already one of the highest in the industry at $58 per hour. That compares to the US wages at Toyota and Volkswagen of $48 and $38 per hour, … Read More ➡

FCC Seeks to Expand ‘Obamaphone’ Boondoggle to the Internet

Access to reliable, high-speed Internet is almost given in today’s America. But should it be subsidized? The Federal Communications Commission thinks it should, now more than ever. On May 28, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to expand the agency’s Lifeline program to include broadband Internet. Costing about $2 billion annually in recent years, Lifeline defrays the cost of landline or mobile phone service for low-income subscribers. Carriers and consumers share in the cost; Internet service providers soon may join them. Funding has risen so much under Obama that the program often is called ‘Obamaphone.’ Given the rampant fraud, the main issue would seem less the proper funding level than the program’s very existence.

Obamaphone, or whatever one wishes to call it, long predated the Obama presidency. The FCC created Lifeline in 1984 during the Reagan years as a means of enabling telecom companies to offer monthly service … Read More ➡

Chrysler/GM Merger Proposal Confirms Folly of Auto Bailout

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has been pressing for a merger with General Motors. Marchionne has been appealing to hedge funds and activist investors in a move that seems to verge on desperation. The main takeaways from the appeal are that the government bailouts of GM and Chrysler were not a long-term fix for the industry and that Mr. Marchionne is one of the few experts on the industry who is honest enough to admit it.

Marchionne has had a history of speaking his mind on topics that are not politically palatable to other auto industry executives, such as GM CEO Mary Barra. In 2014 Marchionne asked consumers not to purchase Fiat’s entry into the money-losing electric car segment, the Fiat 500e. Unlike Barra and GM, who refuse to admit to the struggles of electric cars like the Cadillac ELR and Chevy … Read More ➡

Elon Musk Defends His Companies’ Subsidies

Elon MuskAlt-energy/transport-tech CEO Elon Musk and his trio of companies (Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX) didn’t cooperate with the Los Angeles Times on its article that tabulated his businesses’ whopping sum of corporate welfare ($4.9 billion), and he was predictably miffed by the (accurate) portrayal.

So he went about trying to fix things on CNBC and with the Times on Monday, but not by denying the conclusions reached by reporter Jerry Hirsch, but instead by essentially pointing at fossil fuel industries and saying “they do it more.”

“If I cared about subsidies,” Musk told Hirsch in a follow-up to his Sunday expose’, “I would have entered the oil and gas industry.” He added that the financial help he receives is a “pittance” compared to government backing of fossil fuels.

Musk’s resentment (envy?) of oil and gas subsidies is amusing. Would you like to shoot your rockets into space … Read More ➡

Taxpayer Subsidies Keep Elon Musk’s Companies Afloat

Well, somebody did it, and it was the mainstream media. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Times for taking the time to research and estimate the total amount of U.S. public (local, state, and federal) subsidies for companies owned or run by South African-born Canadian-American Elon Musk.

The total amount calculated by reporter Jerry Hirsch for taxpayer-backed incentives – of many different forms, including tax credits and rebates provided to customers – was $4.9 billion. The corporate beneficiaries have been Tesla Motors and SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, and SolarCity Corp., where he is chairman. The sum does not include SpaceX’s contracts with the government to carry out programs for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

“Government support is a theme of all three of these companies, and without it none of them would be around,” said Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners, to the TimesRead More ➡