Questions Remain To Be Answered In The Haggerty Case
Haggerty pleaded not guilty to the charges, but Vance said he will seek to recoup the $1.1 million and also seize the home Haggerty purchased. The house had been left to Haggerty and his brother Bart by their father, Jack, when he died several years ago. Jack bought out Bart’s share in the house.
The late Jack Haggerty had served as counsel to the Republican state senate majority leader in Albany for many years, beginning in the 1960s and lasting until he retired.
The real mystery of the present Haggerty saga is how a young Queens man without a political base in the borough became over a period of years such a confidante of the billionaire mayor, who made it easy for Haggerty to get his hands on such a large amount of money in the first place.
According to accounts in yesterday’s newspapers, the money, rather than coming from the mayor’s campaign treasury, came in the form of personal checks made out by the mayor to the Independence Party, which then turned over all but $100,000 to Haggerty.
At the beginning of the campaign, the mayor had signed a statement for the city Board of Elections which said that he would make campaign expenditures only through his campaign committee.
Vance said on Monday that his office had found no criminal misconduct by the mayor or his campaign committee in the Haggerty matter.
However, the Independence Party is still not
off the hook for its part in the Haggerty mess. Vance said the party wasn’t cooperating in the case—interesting because they may not have revealed who told them to pass virtually all of the mayor’s money along to Haggerty.
In recent years, John Haggerty’s name and his brother’s had surfaced among those who were insurgents at odds with the entrenched powers in the organization, at which time Serphin Maltese was the county GOP chairman.
As time passed, it became known that Bart Haggerty had taken a job in the Bloomberg administration while John Haggerty was tied to the administration more in a political sense. This became more apparent when Bloomberg as mayor was from time to time at odds with Maltese because of his role as a state senator and the mayor felt he wasn’t doing as much as he could in getting funding for the city.
In time, the Haggerty brothers became involved in the mayor’s re-election campaigns while the regular organization was not so welcoming, again the case in the mayor’s second reelection effort last year.
In the past several years, John Haggerty became a district leader in the Forest Hills area and was more welcome with the county organization once Maltese gave up the leadership and Phil Ragusa succeeded him as party chairman.
John Haggerty still had close ties to City Hall, but as the mayor was laying the groundwork to run for a third term and later, when he started his campaign, his relations with the party leadership in Queens remained frosty, which increased Haggerty’s value to him.
After the election was over and stories started to leak out about the huge amount of money that had been paid to John Haggerty and about how he had purchased his brother’s share of the home left to them by their father, there were never any complaints heard from the mayor about possible misuse by John Haggerty of the funds reportedly paid to him by the mayor.
The mayor still has not voiced any complaint about how the money was used by John Haggerty, according to DA Vance and the indictment charging John Haggerty with, in effect, having stolen the money from the mayor.
Actually there is still much to be told about who directed the Independence Party to give practically all of it to John Haggerty, and there’s not much evidence about who was to make sure Haggerty spent the money for election purposes, which apparently he did not do.
We anxiously await the details.
PADAVAN BILL INSURES FOR AUTISM: Legislation co-sponsored by state Senator Frank Padavan, which would expand health insurance policies in New York to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism, has been passed in the state senate.
The bill had bipartisan support, which makes its chances for passage in the Assembly very favorable.
Padavan, a Republican from Bellerose, said after the bill’s passage: “Early diagnosis and treatment of autism is vital to provide the best course of action and quality of life for a child facing autism. This bill makes sense on a number of levels. It will lead to better outcomes for the families facing autism. No longer will families bear an untenable financial burden that is associated with treating autism. I am proud to vote and support this compassionate legislative measure that will provide much-needed help for autistic children and their families.”
Padavan said that according to the most recent statistic from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that an average of one in 110 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder, and one in seven boys are diagnosed with autism, he said.
“With each passing year,” Padavan said, “more and more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The CDC facts and statistics point to an urgent need for action to provide the tools to families when dealing with autism and provide health insurance coverage that is vital to stop the growth and prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. Today we took the right step that will make great strides toward progress and relief for thousands of New York families.”
The legislation was supported by Autism Insurance Reform, Autism Speaks, the Medical Society of New York State and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
STAVISKY GETS INDY PARTY ENDORSEMENT: Citing state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky as “a model for independent leadership” in the senate, the Independence Party has endorsed her for re-election in November. Party Chairman Frank MacKay also applauded her “bipartisan approach to public service and her recent efforts to pass sweeping ethics reform in Albany…Stavisky is the right choice for Queens families and families throughout New York State.”
Stavisky (D–Whitestone), who is seeking reelection in the 16th District in Eastern Queens, expressed her gratitude for the party’s backing. “I have consistently put people before politics and principle ahead of partisanship,” she stated. “I promise to maintain my independence in the state senate and I look forward to serving the interests of Queens families for many years to come.”
Stavisky was endorsed last month by the Queens Democratic organization.
VALLONE FIGHTS FOR MOTHER TERESA TRIBUTE: Angry at the Empire State Building management for refusing to put on blue and white lights in honor of Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday on August 26, City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) filed a resolution in the City Council last week calling on the building managers to change their minds.
Vallone stated, “I worked behind the scenes for about a week (trying to get the lighting tribute), but when nothing happened, I decided to go public.” The lawmaker added that he expects much support for his resolution—Speaker Christine Quinn has already been out front on the issue.
Quinn announced her support for the Catholic League campaign to honor Mother Teresa the day before Vallone submitted his resolution. Vallone had tried to mediate between the Catholic League and the management of the city’s tallest building, but was not successful.
ADDABBO RALLIES COMMUNITY TO KEEP SENIOR CENTER OPEN: Amid threats that the city is set to shut down the Wakefield Senior Center in Ozone Park because of budget shortfalls, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. joined with other legislators and community seniors to keep the center open.
Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) told the crowd outside the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Ozone Park: “Our seniors have worked hard and contributed to our society all their lives and they deserve safe places in their own neighborhoods to gather, enjoy hot nutritious meals and a variety of programs, learn new things and stay involved.
“We must not let them down, now that they need our support to keep their centers open. Almost 300,000 older adults use them each year.”
Addabbo was joined by Assemblymembers Michael Miller and Michele Titus, both Democrats from nearby areas, at the protest rally.
Bobbie Sackman of the Council of Senior Centers and Services told the demonstrators that about 50 centers are scheduled to shut down by June 30, the day before the new budget starts.
ACKERMAN, WEINER APPLAUD ‘TOUGHEST’ IRAN SANCTION: In a statement issued recently after the U.N. Security Council voted to impose the toughest sanctions yet on Iran for that country’s reported nuclear weapons buildup, Congressmember Gary Ackerman stated: “I am very pleased by the action taken by the U.N. Security Council to address the single greatest threat to peace and security in the world, Iran’s fanatical, hegemonistic, terror-supported leadership and its out-of-control nuclear ambitions. The sanctions adopted are far, far stronger than they have ever been, though I personally would have preferred they even be tougher still.”
Ackerman (D–Bayside/Long Island), chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said the vote was a huge win for America, and that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had shown what “smart, active American diplomatic engagement can produce”.
Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) said the vote was “a smart move and an acknowledgment that the actions of this rogue nation are unacceptable. Now, the U.N. and the international community need to keep up the pressure.”
Weiner criticized Turkey’s opposition to the Security Council’s action. “By siding with Hamas and now Iran, Turkey is letting its true colors show. It is casting its lot with extremists and supporters of terrorism instead of those who seek to bring peace to the Middle East. If Turkey’s goal is to make itself a teammate of an international pariah, it is succeeding.”
‘NO SMOKING WITH KIDS IN CAR’ BILL: Veteran Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn has introduced a bill banning all smoking in cars with children under 14 present in order to eliminate childhood exposure to highly toxic secondhand smoke.
Mayersohn, supported by the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the Medical Society of the state of New York and more than 60 of her Assembly colleagues, is mounting an end-of-session drive to get the bill passed.
Mayersohn said that despite the prevailing evidence of the harmful efforts of secondhand smoke, “Sadly, we might just end the legislative session with this bottled up in committee.”
“Creating smoke-free environments, where children can breathe clean air seems like a nobrainer,” she added. “While adults are capable of objecting to other adults smoking in a car, children are not always able to ask an adult to stop smoking. This bill will give them that voice.”