Posts Tagged ‘receivership’

Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ: More Money Laundering Found in Ed Lee Campaign – Meet CitiApartments’ “Eviction Goon”

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

[UPDATE: Senator Leland Yee is on the case this AM - he's doing a presser involving this latest allegation. (I guess it's too late to call this an October Surprise, and frankly, it's not all that surprising neither. Let's call it a November Expectation. Brace yourself for more.) Oh, and Leland is onto some Chinatown voting sting operation as well.

And there's this: "Statement from Chiu Campaign on Money Laundering Allegations - SAN FRANCISCO (November 2, 2011): Addisu Demissie, spokesman for the David Chiu for Mayor campaign, released the following statement about a San Francisco Chronicle report of potential money laundering by supporters of Mayor Ed Lee:

"This is now the fourth allegation of illegal conduct by Mayor Lee's supporters, and it should be investigated fully by the District Attorney and appropriate authorities,” Demissie said. “With six days to go before Election Day, it will be up to the voters to decide whether this kind of bullying, pay-to-play politics is what they want to see at City Hall for the next 4 years. David is going to spend the last 6 days of this race talking about why he represents a new generation of leadership for San Francisco that will stand tough against the special interests and shake things up at City Hall."

Paid for by David Chiu for Mayor 2011, P.O. Box 641541, San Francisco, CA 94164, FPPC##1337108]

Well, it looks like early-rising City Attorney Dennis Jose Herrera is the first one out of the gates to follow up on today’s piece from San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writers John Coté and Heather Knight.

Testify, DJH:

“Too many of Ed Lee’s supporters act as though they’re above the law — on money laundering, on ballot tampering, and more – and Ed Lee isn’t strong enough to stop it.

Amen.

Earlier this year, Ed Lee was picked unanimously to be an Interim Mayor. He wasn’t picked to be a Reformer. He’ll never be a Reformer.

In Ed Lee’s world, the notorious Willie Brown Administration deserves an A+, Rose Pak is not a cancer on Chinatown, and corner-cutting PG&E (“KABOOM!“) is simply “a great local corporation” and a “great company that gets it.”

Oh well.

Is Ed Lee Breaking Bad? Has the City Family corrupted him? Or has he corrupted the City Family? A little of both?

Click to expand

All the deets:

“Herrera calls on FPPC to join D.A. in investigating new Ed Lee campaign money laundering charge - CitiApartments’ former eviction goon led reimbursement-for-donation scheme, suggesting political payback for City Attorney’s 2006 tenant-protection lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 2, 2011) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera this morning called on the state Fair Political Practices Commission to join District Attorney George Gascón in reviewing new allegations reported in today’s San Francisco Chronicle that Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign received donations that appear to have been illegally laundered to skirt San Francisco $500 per donor contribution maximum.[1] Andrew Hawkins, a property services manager whose harrowing tenant intimidation tactics were central to Herrera’s lawsuit five years ago against the Lembi Group landlords’ once high-rolling CitiApartments empire, promised reimbursements to at least sixteen employees in exchange for maximum contributions to Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign at an Oct. 18, 2011 fundraiser, according to the Chronicle.

It is the second major allegation of campaign money laundering to benefit Ed Lee’s campaign. The first, involving GO Lorrie’s airport shuttle, is the subject of separate investigations by Gascón’s office and the FPPC, the state commission responsible to investigate and impose penalties for violations of the California Political Reform Act. Such schemes have been prosecuted as felonies in California for conspiring to evade campaign contribution limits, and for making campaign contributions under false names.

I think San Franciscans have now seen enough,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “Too many of Ed Lee’s supporters act as though they’re above the law — on money laundering, on ballot tampering, and more — and Ed Lee isn’t strong enough to stop it. If this is how they behave before an election, just imagine how they’ll behave after the election, if Ed Lee wins. This scheme is clearly a bid for political payback by CitiApartments henchmen for my litigation to protect tenants five years ago. It is patently illegal, and I call on the FPPC to join the District Attorney in investigating.”

Hawkins is listed in Ed Lee’s campaign disclosures as the owner of Archway Property Services. As the one-time head of CitiApartments’ “tenant relocation program,” the gun-carrying Hawkins is reported to have coerced more than 2,500 tenants out of their rent-controlled units, and once boasted in civil court testimony, “I run people out of their apartments for a living. It’s what I do.

Several recipients of Hawkins’ email invitation to an Oct. 18 event on Russian Hill made contributions to Ed Lee’s campaign on the same date. All contributed the maximum $500.

Herrera sued the CitiApartments residential rental property behemoth in Aug. 2006 for an array of unlawful business and tenant harassment practices, which sought to dispossess long-term residents of their rent-controlled apartments. The coerced vacancies freed the company to make often-unpermitted renovations to units, and then re-rent them to new tenants at dramatically increased market rates. The illegal business model enabled CitiApartments, Skyline Realty and other entities under the sway of real estate family patriarch Frank Lembi to aggressively outbid competitors for residential properties throughout San Francisco for several years — before lawsuits and a sharp economic downturn forced the aspiring empire into bankruptcies, foreclosures and receiverships.

A 2009 San Francisco Magazine feature story on the Lembi real estate empire[2] described Andrew Hawkins as “a burly former nightclub bouncer who headed up CitiApartments’ relocation program.” Hawkins reportedly led teams as large as 14 full-time employees, according to the report, and the company estimated that “Hawkins relocated more than 2,500 tenants.” An earlier exposé in 2006 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian[3] cited civil court testimony in which Hawkins boasted to one tenant’s family member, “I run people out of their apartments for a living. It’s what I do.”

# # #

SOURCES:
[1] Source: “Ed Lee donors face money-laundering allegations” by John Coté and Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/02/MNKJ1LOMB7.DTL
[2] Source: “War of values” by Danelle Morton, San Francisco Magazine, Nov. 19, 2009, http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/war-of-values
[3] Source: “The Scumlords: Part One of a Three-Part Series” by G.W. Schulz, San Francisco Bay Guardian, March 8, 2006, http://www.sfbg.com/40/23/news_skyline.html

Jerry Brown Strikes Back Against California Prison Receivership

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Attorney General Jerry Brown today filed a motion filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California urging the court to exterminate with extreme prejudice the state’s pri$on receiver$hip.

Read all about it in the Motion to Terminate. Too difficult to get through? Well then, how about ”Plush Hospitals for State’s Felons” from purported “gossip” columnists Matier and Ross instead?

In a nutshell:

“The Receiver’s $8 billion plan calls for adding 7 new prison health care facilities containing 10,000 new beds for prisoners — that’s 7 million square feet, or the size of 70 new Walmarts. The plan would also renovate space at each of the 33 existing state prisons. A draft of the plan also includes yoga rooms, horticultural therapy, extensive landscaping to obscure prison fences, music and art therapy, regulation basketball courts, quiet rooms, an emphasis on natural light and high ceilings, and a so-called “treatment mall.” A subsequent draft contains most of the same features without the graphic detail.”

On it goes…

Brown Calls on Court to Terminate Prison Receivership

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today called on the federal district court to terminate an “unaccountable prison receivership” and its extravagant $8 billion prison construction plan because both violate federal law.

“The court should terminate this unaccountable prison receivership and its $8 billion construction plan, restoring a dose of fiscal reality to the provision of inmate medical care in California,” Attorney General Brown said. “The federal receivership has turned into its own autonomous government operating outside the normal checks and balances of state and federal law,” Brown added.

The Receiver’s $8 billion plan calls for adding 7 new prison health care facilities containing 10,000 new beds for prisoners — that’s 7 million square feet, or the size of 70 new Walmarts. The plan would also renovate space at each of the 33 existing state prisons.

A draft of the plan also includes yoga rooms, horticultural therapy, extensive landscaping to obscure prison fences, music and art therapy, regulation basketball courts, quiet rooms, an emphasis on natural light and high ceilings, and a so-called “treatment mall.” A subsequent draft contains most of the same features without the graphic detail.

The construction of new facilities, as well as the upgrading of existing facilities, is estimated to cost $8 billion. In addition, it will cost $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion per year to operate these facilities. The projected operations cost per inmate is $170,000 to $230,000 per year. This extravagant plan comes at a time when California is facing a fiscal catastrophe and funding for school children is being slashed.

The Termination Motion
In a motion filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Attorney General urged the court to terminate the Receivership and his plan for the construction of prison healthcare facilities – because the Prison Litigation Reform Act prohibits judges from ordering the construction of state prison facilities and limits court-imposed remedies to the “least intrusive” possible.

In place of the $8 billion plan, the Attorney General called for returning the prison health care system to the State and the appointment of an interim Special Master to conduct hearings and make proposed findings of fact.

Background
California is under Federal court order to provide health care that is not “deliberately indifferent” to the health needs of prisoners. The State of California is committed to providing such care.

The State – under the receivership – has taken significant steps to improve inmate health care. California has increased health care staffing and filled almost 90 percent of open physician positions, improved emergency response, professional standards, contracting systems, and health care screenings.

In total, California has increased per inmate health care spending from $7,601 per year in 2005-2006 to $13,778 in 2007-2008. By comparison, spending per inmate in federal prisons will be $4,413 per inmate in 2008-2009. The average cost of health care coverage for a single person in California in 2008 was $4,906.

Nevertheless, the Receiver continues to insist on a massive program that would lead to the construction of facilities and amenities that go well-beyond standards required by the Constitution and federal law. The Prison Litigation Reform Act, signed into law in 1996, forbids judges from ordering construction of state prison facilities, and requires that any plan that a court orders be “narrowly drawn, extend “no further than necessary” to correct the violation of the Federal right, and be the “least intrusive means necessary.” (18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A))

On August 25, 2008, the Receiver filed a motion to hold the Governor and other State officials in contempt for failing to turn over to the Receiver $8 billion for his construction plans, and the district court ordered the state to make a down-payment of $250 million by November 5.

Subsequently, Brown appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit, which stayed the district court order. The Ninth Circuit will hear oral argument in the case on February 12, 2009.