Thursday, January 28, 2010

Westchester Guardian/Rob Astorino/Richard Blassberg.

Message For Rob Astorino: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee!

Implications Of Massachusetts Upset For Westchester.

Last Tuesday night Scott Brown, winner of the special race for United States Senator from the State of Massachusetts declared, at his celebration in Boston, “Tonight the independent majority delivered a great victory for the people.” Brown, a Republican State Senator for some five years, defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General, for the seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy for some 47 years, a remark-able upset, indeed.

There is no question that Mr. Brown’s victory will have an immediate negative impact upon the Obama Administration’s effort to pass major healthcare reform legislation. However, in a much broader sense, the election of a Republican to Ted Kennedy’s seat in perhaps the bluest, most liberal bastion in all of America, has far broader implications than the mere success or failure of Mr. Obama’s healthcare initiative.

The single most important implication lay in the very words Brown uttered in declaring victory. He did not exalt his own Republican Party. He acknowledged, and gave heartfelt thanks, to “the independent majority,” and not the Republican Party that nominated him and supported his brilliant campaign. He recognized, as our own newly-minted Republican County Executive should truly recognize, that without those non-aligned and independent voters, he would not have succeeded.

Despite the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Bay State three to one, clearly, it was not a matter of Party allegiance, Democrats vs. Republicans, that would determine the outcome. Instead, it was really a cobbling together of those independent voters who understood that it was an election about issues, healthcare, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sluggish economy.

Brown rightly sensed that voters did not feel especially understood or responded to by either the Democratic or Republican Parties, and that their mood was one of discontentment and anger with the status quo. Driving throughout the state to his numerous campaign rallies and speeches in a pickup truck, projected the image of a candidate who was one of them; one who would listen to them and bring about change they could live with and afford.

In plain language, the people of this country have grown tired of the “same ol’, same ol’”, a two-party system where the players, with few exceptions, are interchangeable, and neither side seems to care enough to bring about meaningful and lasting changes. They hunger for real solutions to the basic problems faced daily by working families in our sluggish economy as mortgage foreclosure continues to erode our neighborhoods and displace unemployed and underemployed constituent taxpayers.

Not since Watergate has the public perception of politicians and the two major parties been so poor. Never before have families been so heavily taxed while, at the same time, working longer hours to bring home less.

In Washington President Obama, who rode to victory just one year ago, promising “fundamental changes in the way government would be conducting business,” now finds himself being accused of “illusory tactics”, yet engaging in concessions and giveaways that continue to drain and depress our economy.

Here at home in Westchester, we do not particularly enjoy having the distinction of paying the highest property taxes in the nation, coupled with the falling market value of our homes. That one-two punch has tended to make us more uncomfortable with, and intolerant of, arrogant, self-serving politicians.

Those who participate in the electoral process have become increasingly unwilling to identify with either the Democrats or Republicans, preferring, instead, to be registered with the Independence Party, or as an independent, non-aligned voter. In fact, in many areas of the country, non-aligned and Independence Party registrations combined comprise more than one-third of voters in any given election; a fact that should now dramatically alter the rules of engagement in most future races.

No longer should the Independence Party of Westchester be content to cross-endorse either the Republican or Democratic Party choice, in any given contest, thus ensuring that particular candidate’s probable election. Rather, the time has come when the Independence Party should be actively issuing platforms and positions with respect to countywide, statewide and national issues.

At the same time, the Independence Party needs to actively interview, and recruit, compatible worthy candidates for all positions available, simultaneously aggressively registering and educating new Party members, particularly young adults.

It is no longer a productive strategy to merely crossendorse candidates who have been pre-selected by either the Democratic or Republican machine. That fact has been forcefully driven home by the actions of the Astorino Administration over the past 10 weeks since election.

Despite initial acknowledgement of the crucial role played by the Independence Party and nonaligned voters in Rob Astorino’s victory over Andy Spano, a victory predicted and encouraged by information published by The Guardian alone against all other local news media in Westchester, the new Administration has virtually avoided any and every opportunity to include those without whose active assistance their success would not have occurred.

It has rapidly become apparent that, with the exception of the switch at the very top, and those closest to him, the Astorino Administration is quite happy to leave much of the corrupt Spano organization in place.

Change? What change? We don’t see much change at all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article/Phil Amicone/Nick Spano/Al Pirro/Anthony Mangone/Sandy Annabi.

‘The Last Supper’

Was It The Pivotal MomentIn A Criminal Conspiracy?

‘The Last Supper’ Five Practiced Conspirators And Sandy Annabi Meet Hours Before Her Vote Reversal

Does anyone seriously believe that any significant amount of money exchanged hands to lubricate the passage of approvals by Yonkers City Council for either the Ridge Hill development or Longfellow Senior Housing, and Phil Amicone and Nick Spano received nothing for their efforts? Of course not. Nick and Phil, between them, controlled the Republican patronage machine in Yonkers; and, as between them, Nick was clearly el Capo.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, it is well known that City Chair, now Chairman of the County Legislature, Ken Jenkins, had lined up agency of the rentals in Ridge Hill for his ERA Gem Real Estate Brokerage. Let no one suggest that corruption isn’t an equal opportunity enterprise in Yonkers, with Republicans and Democrats cooperating to each grab a share. And, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Mike Spano is licensed to Ken Jenkins’ office.

We are informed by an exceptionally reliable and knowledgeable source, from first-hand observation, that a certain Italian restaurant in New Rochelle was the scene of a supper meeting attended by Al Pirro, Nick Spano, Mike Spano, as well as Anthony Mangone, Zehy Jereis and Sandy Annabi on the evening before the Yonkers City Council meeting at which Annabi changed her position and voted to enable the Ridge Hill Development Project to go forward; in a sense, a Last Supper.

Does such a meeting, in and of itself, prove any wrongdoing, any bribery or extortion was occurring? No, of course not. It’s possible, just possible, that all of those Yonkers players were out to celebrate because Sandy had changed her position and advised all of them that she would be voting in favor of Ridge Hill after all, because the builder, Bruce Ratner, had agreed to contribute $10 million to the Yonkers School System.

Pasta and a hot antipasto, even with a little Chianti to wash it all down, does not a conspiracy make. Neither does the payment of a seriously attractive, somewhat seductive, young woman’s utility bills, mortgage payments, or car lease, by members of the opposite sex, no matter how shady their prior histories.

We do not take breaches of public trust lightly, by any means, and we are only too well aware of the atmosphere of corruption engendered by a District Attorney who occupied the Office for 12 years while married to the most outrageous white-collar criminal in the County. One United States Attorney, who should have known better, MaryJo White, in fact, perpetuated the corrupt environment when she failed to include Jeanine Pirro in the original 67-count indictment that named Al, despite the fact that the case involved a 10-year-long tax fraud, 1988-1997, in which nine of those 10 years Jeanine jointly signed the tax returns.

Despite having been convicted in White Plains Federal District Court on June 20, 2000, and sentenced to 29 months in federal prison, Al was out by clever canard, in only 11. Additionally, although convicted of all 38 remaining counts of a 67- count indictment, after Judge Barrington Parker redacted the 29 most egregious counts involving the rip-off of Peekskill’s Hudson Valley Hospital, together with Robert Boyle, another of George Pataki’s crooked buddies, the Appellate Division, Second Department, never disbarred Al. Instead, they waited three years to act and then merely suspended his license for three years, beginning May 12, 2003.

No matter, Mr. Fixit, Al Pirro, went right on practicing law, making appearances before town boards and city planning commissions such as White Plains, and wherever he would normally appear, in direct disobedience to the specific conditions of his ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ suspension. No one can say the federal courts or state courts treated Al Pirro ‘badly’. Not only did they spare him; they also enabled him; and, now he pops up right in the middle of the Yonkers real estate development scandal. What a surprise!

After all, way back in 2003, before leaving office, then-Mayor John Spencer had retained Al Pirro as Yonkers’ official lobbyist, specifically tasked with the assignment of bringing qualified real estate developers to the City to help the administration that would soon be headed by his deputy, Phil Amicone, fulfill their master plan of development. Even in a culture of corruption such as Westchester, somehow Yonkers remains a standout for sheer chutzpah.

If every allegation in all 13 counts of Sandy Annabi’s federal indictment were essentially accurate, and, in fact, she benefitted to the tune of $166,000, still she would be a minor player by comparison with the likes of Al Pirro, Nick Spano, and the others at that table in New Rochelle. More likely, most of, if not all of, that cash ended up in Anthony Mangone’s, and Zehy Jereis’, accounts, well-trained soldiers in the Nick Spano mob.

As for the developers, they understand from years of doing business, that in Westchester, and particularly in Yonkers, for many decades, you don’t get the job and you don’t get through the City’s zoning, planning, and environmental approvals in a timely fashion unless you grease several palms. They simply know and accept the network of corruption as the price of doing business.

We understand the difference between those developers who can legitimately be said to have been victims of extortion, and those who routinely distribute envelopes filled with cash as a vital protocol. In either case, a serious crime has been committed when a government official has been paid off and the public trust has been breached. We are reminded of the County Courthouse at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in White Plains, where, after only 20 years, the siding was falling off the building that had been constructed by a builder brought to the project by Al Pirro. The consequences of kickbacks are often inferior materials and/or workmanship.

Given the $600-$800 million price tag on Ridge Hill alone, the notion that a clique composed of the Spano brothers (Nick and Mike), Al Pirro, Anthony Mangone and Zehy Jereis, would content themselves with a few hundred thousand dollars in ‘consulting fees’ is ludicrous. If Sandy Annabi did, in fact, accept some personal enrichment to alter her vote with respect either to the Longfellow, or the Ridge Hill projects – and that will take some serious proving – she was clearly a tool in the hands of the five political operatives and felons seated at that table with her in New Rochelle less than 24 hours before she cast her vote.

Interestingly, both Nick and Mikey Spano have now been very quick to disown and deny any association with, or knowledge of, Jereis’ or Mangone’s activities with regard to either project. However, my source is holding steadfast to the account of who they saw, where, and when. Even 1/10th of one percent of a $600 million project would involve $600,000. The United States Attorney is talking about $166,000.

Finally, Mike Edelman has been unusually talkative and ‘blogative’, even for him, since the unsealing of the Annabi Indictment. It would seem he “protesteth a bit too much”, particularly with respect to Al Pirro and the Spano brothers, not to mention Phil Amicone, also very quick to disassociate himself with strong words of denouncement.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article/Zehy Jereis/Anthony Mangone/Sandy Annabi.


And They’ve Only Just Begun

Annabi, Mangone, Jereis Indicted United States Attorney Charges Former Democratic Majority Leader Of Yonkers City Council, Former Republican Party Chief, And Attorney With Public Corruption Crimes

Former Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi Allegedly Received More Than $160,000 In Secret Payments; Defendants Charged With Conspiracy, Bribery, Extortion, False Statements, and Tax Crimes

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and PATRICIA J.HAYNES, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), Criminal Investigation Division, announced the unsealing of an Indictment against SANDY ANNABI, the former Democratic Majority Leader of the Yonkers City Council, charging her with conspiracy, bribery, extortion, false statements, and tax crimes. The Indictment also charges ZEHY JEREIS, the former head of the Yonkers Republican Party, and ANTHONY MANGONE, a Westchester County attorney, with conspiracy, bribery, and extortion in connection with two real estate development projects within the City of Yonkers which were pending before ANNABI.

MANGONE was arrested early on the morning of January 6 in Purchase, New York. ANNABI and JEREIS surrendered to federal authorities on the same day. All three defendants are expected to be presented before United States Magistrate Judge LISA MARGARET SMITH in White Plains Federal Court.

According to the Indictment filed in White Plains Federal Court:

On November 6, 2001, SANDY ANNABI was elected to serve as a Councilwoman to represent the Second District of the City of Yonkers. ANNABI was reelected two subsequent times, in 2003 and2005, and served as the Democratic Majority Leader of the Yonkers City Council. The Yonkers City Council’s primary function is to consider and vote on the City’s budget, zoning changes, and other legislation.

From the fall of 2003 through the fall of 2007, ZEHY JEREIS was the Chairman of the Yonkers Republican Party. As the Party Chairman, JEREIS’s duties were to promote the Republican Party in Yonkers and to advance the interests of Republican elected officials and candidates. ANTHONY MANGONE is an attorney whose office was located in Hawthorne, New York.

The Longfellow Project:
In 2003, a developer (“Developer No. 1”) proposed to develop a tract of land located partially within the Yonkers City Council District represented by ANNABI by renovating and transforming two vacant and dilapidated schools into market-rate housing (the “Longfellow Project”). ANNABI initially opposed the Longfellow Project. During a City Council meeting on June 14, 2005, ANNABI proclaimed her strong opposition to the project, stating: “Even if the entire community supported [it], I would be opposed.” She also said that the project was “outrageous” and a “slap in the face to the taxpayers of Yonkers.” Despite considerable effort, Developer No. 1 was unable to move the project forward in the face of ANNABI’s opposition.

In April 2006, however, Developer No. 1 hired MANGONE to assist in persuading ANNABI to support the Longfellow Project. Shortly thereafter, MANGONE arranged a meeting between a representative of Developer No. 1 and JEREIS, who advised that he could help persuade ANNABI to support the project. Later, MANGONE told Developer No. 1 that, in order for the project to proceed, Developer No. 1 would have to pay ANNABI $30,000 in exchange for her support. Developer No. 1 gave MANGONE the $30,000 in cash for ANNABI and paid MANGONE a $10,000 cash fee for his services.

Shortly after receiving the $30,000 in cash, ANNABI made several substantial cash and credit card purchases –including airline ticket upgrades, a Rolex watch, and a diamond cross necklace. Then, at a City Council meeting in September2006, ANNABI reversed her long-held opposition to the Longfellow Project and voted in favor of awarding the project to Developer No. 1.

The Ridge Hill Development Project:
The “Ridge Hill Development Project” was a project proposed by a large developer (“Developer No. 2”) to develop an 81-acre tract of land to establish retail shopping, restaurants, office space, hundreds of residential housing units, and a hotel and conference center. ANNABI was an outspoken critic of the proposed Ridge Hill Project and voted against both the project and legislation that would allow the project to move forward despite her opposition. ANNABI, with two other City Council members and others, also filed a civil lawsuit to effectively block the Ridge Hill Project. As the City Council was considering the Ridge Hill Project, Developer No. 2 made repeated and unsuccessful efforts to convince ANNABI to vote in favor of the project.

On June 2, 2006, JEREIS was introduced to representatives of Developer No. 2, after which JEREIS told representatives of Developer No. 2 that he could arrange a meeting between them, ANNABI, and JEREIS to discuss the Ridge Hill Project. JEREIS and representatives of Developer No. 2 also had an agreement in which Developer No. 2 would give JEREIS a consulting job sometime after ANNABI formally voted in favor of the Ridge Hill Project. After two meetings held in less than two weeks, ANNABI reversed her opposition to the Ridge Hill Project and issued a press release -- drafted by JEREIS and representatives of Developer No. 2 – informing the public of her support for the project.

Specifically, at a City Council meeting on July 11, 2006, ANNABI voted I favor of the zoning change necessary for the Ridge Hill Project. Shortly after ANNABI changed her vote on the Ridge Hill Project, JEREIS received the promised consulting contract from Developer No. 2 worth $60,000 over one year.

Secret Payments To ANNABI And Efforts To Conceal The Crimes: Since at least 2004, ANNABI has received from JEREIS, MANGONE, and others more than $160,000 worth of secret payments designed to influence and reward her for favorable official action or inaction on matters pending before the City Council as specific opportunities arose. ANNABI, JEREIS, and MANGONE also took various steps to conceal their scheme, by making false statements and/or omitting required information in various reporting documents.

For example, JEREIS secretly gave ANNABI money and purported loans to finance the purchase of two residential properties located outside of ANNABI’s Council District. To obtain favorable financing, ANNABI contemporaneously submitted applications to two different banks, advising both that she intended to occupy the house for which she was seeking financing and concealing that she was seeking to borrow money from the other bank for a second house. The closings for the two loans occurred only three days apart.
Furthermore, despite being required as a Council member, by state and local law, to live within her Council District, ANNABI in fact lived in one of these houses outside of her Council District. In order to meet the residential requirement to maintain her position, JEREIS purchased a cooperative apartment for ANNABI within her Council District. JEREIS had paid for the down payment and made the monthly mortgage payments, at times with postal money orders he had obtained.

The Indictment further charges that in her loan applications for one of the houses and for the apartment she purchased, ANNABI falsely inflated her income. ANNABI’s applications also included fake pay stubs, W-2’s, and bank statements.

According to the Indictment, ANNABI affirmatively concealed the illegal benefits she received from JEREIS and MANGONE by filing annual financial disclosure statements, from2004 through 2007, that intentionally omitted the illegal payments. ANNABI also failed to report in federal income tax returns the illegal payments that she received from JEREIS, MANGONE, and others.

In a further effort to conceal the criminal conduct, during the federal grand jury investigation into ANNABI’s corrupt relationship with JEREIS, MANGONE instructed Developer No. 1 not to tell an attorney representing Developer No. 1 that representatives of Developer No. 1 had given MANGONE the $30,000 in cash for ANNABI. MANGONE also failed to report, as required, the $30,000 cash bribe and an additional $10,000 fee that he received from Developer No. 1 to the IRS.

A chart setting forth the charges contained in the Indictment against ANNABI, JEREIS, and MANGONE and the maximum potential penalties for each offense is attached. The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the crimes set forth above.

Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. He added that the investigation is ongoing.

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,

“Today’s indictment describes what was essentially a bipartisan corruption pact between Sandy Annabi, Zehy Jereis, and Anthony Mangone. When the people of Yonkers elected Annabi to the City Council, she swore an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of her office. But rather than keep her word, she betrayed Yonkers’ residents by selling the most important assets any elected official has: her integrity and her independence. In our down economy, there are too many buildings with ‘For Sale’ signs hanging in the window; City Hall shouldn’t be one of them,” said United States Attorney PREET BHARARA.

“The conduct charged in the indictment is an assault on democracy. The people of Yonkers were betrayed by Sandy Annabi, someone elected – and sworn -- to serve them. In publicly opposing one of the projects for which she later sold her vote, she called it ‘a slap in the face to the taxpayers of Yonkers. ‘She willfully conspired to redefine her job from Councilmember to Councilmember-for-sale. That was the real slap in the face for the people of Yonkers,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR.

“Public officials are no different from you or I in their responsibility to follow tax law. When this trust is violated it deteriorates confidence in the fairness of the application of tax law,” IRS Special Agent-in-Charge PATRICIA J.HAYNES.

Assistant United States Attorneys JASON P.W. HALPERIN and PERRY A. CARBONE are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Sandy, Say It Isn’t So, Sandy Annabi Facing The Fight Of Her Life

It was disappointing, to say the least, to be present last Wednesday in the Offices of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York at the Federal District Courthouse in White Plains for a press conference at which it was disclosed that Sandy Annabi, former Democratic Majority Leader of the Yonkers City Council, had been indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with Conspiracy, Bribery, Extortion, False Statements, and Tax Crimes.

However, the last time we checked, indictment was still not the same as conviction. The charges stem from Annabi’s official action with respect to two proposed real estate developments in Yonkers which she initially opposed and then supported: The Longfellow Project, and the Ridge Hill Development Project.

This case has Nick Spano, his brother Mikey, Al Pirro, Phil Amicone, and Ken Jenkins written all over it, in that order; and the Government knows that. Named in the same indictment were Zehy Jereis and Anthony Mangone, two Nick Spano operatives, each with a long history of Election Fraud and manipulation as well as criminal political operations on behalf of Spano. Jereis, former Chairman of the Yonkers Republican Committee, and a former official of the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce, has a criminal record that includes Possession and Sale of A Controlled Substance.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Westchester Guardian Article/Sam Zherka.

Guardian Publisher Takes Seibel Dismissals To Federal Appeals Court

Cases Dismissed By District Court Judge Cathy Seibel Going To Second Circuit

Civil Actions Brought By Guardian Publisher Sam Zherka Are Among More Than 1,500 Dismissed Under Ashcroft v. Iqbal

United States District Court White Plains, New York Judge Cathy Seibel Presiding

This reporter was present in Federal District Court, White Plains, several weeks ago when Judge Cathy Seibel served notice of her intention to dismiss cases brought by Guardian publisher Sam Zherka against Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone, Deputy Mayor John Fleming, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, and attorney and political consultant Michael Edelman for Defamation and Slander engaged in by way of First Amendment retaliation, conspiring to damage his good name and reputation.

Among the activities claimed by plaintiff Zherka were public statements of untruthful assertions of criminal activity about Zherka by Mayor Amicone before a large gathering of prominent Westchester citizens; repeated internet postings by Michael Edelman falsely alleging criminal activities by Zherka; and Abuse of Process and harrassment of Zherka and many of his friends and business associates by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office involving ADA Bogdanos.

All of the named defendants, were, and are, closely connected to and associated with Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, who had telephoned Zherka, and who was recorded threatening him with reprisal because she was displeased with information published in The Guardian concerning political activities by her spouse, attorney Dennis Glazer.

Judge Seibel had admitted many months earlier, when the cases were first filed and assigned to her, that she had a personal relationship with Janet DiFiore, but nevertheless refused, despite that admission, to recuse herself.

Seibel’s dismissal comes under the dictates of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, a case out of the Second Circuit that was argued be fore the United States Supreme Court, December 10, 2008 and decided May 18, 2009. The socalled Iqbal Decision, as it has come to be known, in effect has given great latitude to District Court judges to dismiss cases in the pleading stage based on their perception of the case’s plausibility, and has created quite a stir throughout the federal court system, among legal scholars, and in the halls of Congress. New York Congressman Jerry Nadler and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter have each promised to sponsor legislation to blunt, if not curtail, its influence.

Iqbal, in seven short months, has fundamentally changed the process and expectations in the pleadings stage of civil actions brought before federal courts. The Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(a)(2) of the General Rules of Pleading, simply called for “A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”

A legal analyst writing for the highly regarded law firm Mayer, Brown three days after the ruling was handed up, observed “The United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Ashcroft v. Iqbal significantly increases the factual detail required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) in order to state a claim.”

In practical terms, under Iqbal, typical plaintiffs bringing a civil action against a corporate entity or government agency for many decades have not been expected to provide in their initial pleadings the level of explicit detail that, in most cases, comes to light through discovery. By now demanding such detailed information from plaintiffs in their initial pleadings, District Court judges are virtually throwing up a protective barrier, a shield around defendants, preventing good-faith, well-meant plaintiffs from proceeding, and from reaching the discovery necessary to prosecute their legitimate claims.

Publisher Zherka’s actions, filed long in advance of the Iqbal Decision, present numerous witnesses, audio and videotapes, photographs, and affidavits, little, or none of which,
Judge Seibel, with all due respect, seemed to have taken the trouble to become aware of as we observed her on November 20th when attorney Rory Bellantoni referenced them. In fairness to the judge, at a prior appearance several weeks earlier, she had asked attorney Jonathan Lovett, of Lovett & Bellantoni, to provide her with greater detail, which he certainly did in his amended pleadings.

Zherka, confused by the Judge’s dismissals, told this reporter, “There is so much evidence in our pleadings the case is a poster child for Iqbal.” He indicated that he was “definitely appealing the dismissals to the Second Circuit”, where he was confident they would be reversed, but, that he was “prepared, if necessary, to go all the way to the Supreme Court.” Additionally, he indicated he would be bringing an action against each of the defendants, individually, for Defamation and Slander in State Court.

Iqbal, a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, is by far and away the most telling and potentially destructive outcome to date to come from the Supreme Court’s Conservative Majority established under President George W. Bush. In writing the Majority Opinion, Kennedy declared, “Rule 8(a)(2) demands more than an unadorned the-defendant- unlawfully-harmed-me accusation and requires that a complaint be factually plausible.”

Mayer, Brown observed, “The decision in Iqbal thus suggests that a federal court no longer need draw factual inferences in favor of the complainant if it believes that a competing interpretation is more plausible.” Commenting just three days after the decision, they go on to say, “Although it remains to be seen whether lower federal courts will interpret Iqbal as abandoning Notice Pleading altogether, the opinion raises the pleading bar substantially and provides defendants with important ammunition to a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for failing to state a claim.”

Now, seven months, and more than 1,500 Iqbal dismissals later, we recognize that Iqbal creates a pretrial screen by which the more egregious and outrageous the conduct pleaded and alleged, the more likely it will be dismissed based upon a particular judge’s experiences, associations, and prejudices, all combining to determine that which she will consider “plausible”.

Regrettably, just as we were beginning to make some headway against prosecutorial misconduct, and major governmental and corporate acts of Constitutional violation, we
find ourselves hog-tied by a “Conservative” majority in the Supreme Court whose decision was designed to slow, if not interdict altogether, the process of uncovering unlawful actors, both in government and corporate enterprise.

In the meantime, Mike Edelman, whose malicious obsession with, and activity on, the blogosphere, is undisputed, continues to defame and malign publisher Sam Zherka as if having been granted a license to continue doing so by the decision of Judge Seibel.

His verbal graffiti, easily identified by other bloggers, can be found on the blogs of complicit media sources. And, of course, he continues to run his mouth frequently on News12 where he masquerades as a Republican commentator, a claim Doug Colety, Chairman of the Westchester Republican Party, has repeatedly refuted.

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