Tag Archives: fraud

Lies: An American Bistro (LMGTFY)

24 Jan

Remember Valenti’s? The ill-fated red-sauce joint in the Budwey’s plaza in North Tonawanda became locally famous thanks to a glowing Janice Okun review in the Buffalo News, which contained wild fantasies concocted by owners Terry Valenti and Lori Brocuglio about Terry’s defeat of Bobby Flay in the “battle parsnips” on an episode of Iron Chef America that never existed. I think it’s bad form to stretch the truth on a resume, but to make up a blatant lie that a simple Google search can disprove is ridiculous. 

Let me Google that for you

Last week, an article briefly appeared about a former local chef who had made similar embellishments to his resume. Kevin O’Connell, Jr. (yes, his dad does the weather for Channel 2), was the chef/part owner of what was O’Connell’s Hourglass on Kenmore Avenue before progressively downscaling itself into a “bistro”, replete with nightclub acts and comedy nights before shuttering in late 2012. 

We had dined at O’Connells several times throughout its different incarnations and generally enjoyed it. O’Connells Jr. and Sr. were always gregarious and kind to us. I never had a bad experience; quite the contrary. 

And so it was that when Junior left the restaurant and abruptly moved to California, the writing was on the wall – part of the restaurant’s raison d’etre was that it was a family-owned joint, established at least in part to give O’Connell an opportunity to come home to Buffalo and hone his craft. On a few Facebook postings, I noted that I was not surprised when I learned that the place was closing – not as a commentary on its food or service, but based on the fact that, with Junior’s departure, it had effectively ceased to matter. But the weatherman took great offense to this, and tried to humiliate me to his thousands of Facebook “friends”

He tagged me immediately afterwards. I wasn’t a regular, but my family enjoyed his food, and we celebrated many an event at his restaurant. When Junior unexpectedly up and moved to LA in August 2012, I was surprised, and figured the place wasn’t going to last. There was other scuttlebutt involved, but I never mentioned it. Now this weatherman is insulting me like this as if I was to blame for the place closing, yet I never wrote a negative syllable about it?  I know Junior was pissed because I wrote “not surprised” when someone on the Buffalo foodie group mentioned the sudden appearance of a “for sale” sign. Yeah, not surprised the place is for sale when the chef moves 3k miles away. Here was my comment on weatherboy’s wall: 

Here, by the way, is the only thing I ever wrote – publicly or privately – about O’Connells. What a monster I am.

Soon after Kevin O’Connell Jr. returned to Buffalo, he was sent to federal prison on a conviction of stealing $44,000 from various diners’ credit cards in a scam at a prior restaurant he co-owned in Montana. Prosecutors called it “deliberate fraud”. I defended him then, arguing that he was paying his debt to society, was making restitution, and deserved a second chance. I am clearly a horrible person. 

In any event, last week the excrement hit the fan when Junior’s new restaurant posted a resume out of a creative writing class. An article briefly posted at the Spree’s website has since been taken down. Forget that for a second, and don’t worry about why it’s gone. 

Here is how not to promote yourself – here is the Kevin O’Connell, Jr. resume, as it appeared at this web address just last week (taken January 17, 2014 at 3pm – and here is a PDF of what was posted): 

Professional Background

1998-2001 Babbo Ristorante New York, New York
Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine

Returning from Europe I was hired as the opening sous chef for the acclaimed Italian eatery by Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. I was honored and excited to be a part of an incredible team that made this the most authentic and popular Italian eatery in the United States, winning best new restaurant in numerous publications. I was promoted to Chef de Cuisine after 7 months and Chef Batali’s opening of Lupa. I was honored in 2001 to be named a James Beard award winner for Best New Chef Northeast. Shortly after I had the opportunity to open my first establishment and took that opportunity with Chef’s blessing and full support.

I don’t know whether he was the opening sous at Babbo, but the James Beard award claim is pure nonsense. O’Connell has never won—nor been nominated for—a James Beard Award. The award he is claiming to have received in 2001 is a mess of half-truths spliced together, none of which include him. Batali did win several awards in 2001, including one for Esca as Best New Restaurant. But the list of the Best Chefs of the Northeast (and nominees) bear no mention of Junior. Additionally,the James Beard Foundation gives New York City chefs and restaurants their own awards, separate from the rest of the Northeast. (Here are the JBF award listings for 199819992000, and 2001.) Or just search the JBF website for any mention of Kevin O’Connell, Jr. You’ll be disappointed.

2001-2003 Rue Franklin Park Slope, Brooklyn

Owner/Chef

After such a fantastic experience with fine Italian cuisine in Manhattan, I reached out and opened a small French bistro in the up and coming neighborhood of Park Slope. A 45 seat restaurant that had a menu that changed daily and featured the provisions of the area as well as fresh imported French favorites. In early 2002 the New York Times rated our restaurant 2 stars which at the time was the only 2 star establishment outside of the immediate Manhattan dining area. We were nominated for best new restaurant from the James Beard Foundation and won best new restaurant from the New Yorker and the Village Voice. I left the business to open another establishment in Late 2003 but continued ownership until 2006.

The Village Voice’s 2001 list doesn’t show “Rue Franklin Park Slope”. In fact, a search of the entire Village Voice website for “Rue Franklin” comes up empty. Same thing with the New Yorker. I tried looking in New York Magazine, but couldn’t find anything – its online archives are not jam-packed. But I couldn’t find any evidence of this restaurant existing. New York Times 2 stars? I did a search of the New York Times archive for 1/1/01 – 1/1/04 for “Rue Franklin” and nothing came up

2003-2005 Employees Only New York, New York
Partner/Chef

After being approached in early 2003 from 5 of my college fraternity brothers and friends to help open a bar in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, we as a group opened Employees Only, a 20’s style cocktail lounge. Starting in a very small kitchen and serving a very limited menu in March 2004 we acquired the space in the rear of the bar formerly a tailor shop and expanded to a full service restaurant. We were named Best Cocktail Bar in the United States by GQ magazine in 2004 and 2005, we were named Best Cocktail Bar in New York from 2004 to 2007. We published our first cookbook of cocktails in 2010 and made the New York Times Best Seller List. I stepped down as Chef in 2005 to pursue another project in my home town of Buffalo New York. I still maintain my partnership with the restaurant and the company which has opened 5 more establishments 4 in New York and One in Washington DC.

The idea that Junior ever worked at Employees Only in any capacity is dubious. Why take credit for a book published five years after you’ve left a place – a book about cocktails? A phone call to the bar reveals the truth pretty quickly. Just call and ask them.  

Also, anyone notice the glaring omission of Indigo, the place in Montana where he got busted for bad checks and credit card fraud? Well, it wasn’t always Indigo. It started out as “Blue Smoke”. He changed it to “Indigo: An American Bistro”.  Just like in Buffalo, when he changed “O’Connell’s Hourglass” to “O’Connell’s American Bistro”.  Just like in Los Angeles, when his new venture, 9 Olives folded after less than a year, he tried to change it to “Punk’s”, (Twitter here) but got a new gig at a place called Carson House. It’s got a new concept. Care to guess? “Carson House: An American Bistro“. 

Great Falls’ Indigo closed in June 2005 – around the time Junior claims to have left Employees Only. 

Incidentally, this Great Falls, MT story about O’Connell’s change to Indigo is dated February 2003 – around the time that Junior claims to have joined Employees Only. And here’s what he told the local paper in Montana in 2004

O’Connell was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised in Los Angeles. He got his bachelor’s degree from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and received his master’s in hotel and restaurant management from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

In 2000, he moved to Fort Benton after landing an executive chef position at the exquisite Union Grille Restaurant in the Grand Union Hotel.

“I had gotten engaged, and I needed a place to settle down and raise a family,” he said. “It was an abrupt culture shock. I went from a 3-million-person metro to a town with 1,000 people where everybody knows everybody’s name and birth date.”

A year and a half later, O’Connell ventured back to city life, opening the Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant in the Lobby Bar in Great Falls.

No Babbo. No Rue Franklin Park Slope. Fort Benton, MT

2005-2010 O’Connells American Bistro Buffalo, New York
Owner/Chef

I had the opportunity to purchase a famed Buffalo landmark restaurant in my fathers former neighborhood where he grew up. O’Connells American Bistro was to be an ode to all that I had experienced in both Europe and my time in Manhattan. It opened to rave reviews and earned 4 stars from the Buffalo News and Critic Janice Okun (1 of 4 restaurants at the time to receive 4 stars)
I was honored to be invited 4 times to the James Beard House to cook with my crew, we received a Best New Restaurant nomination from the Beard Foundation in 2006, and we were named Best Restaurant by Buffalo Spree, the Buffalo News, and Spot Magazine 2005, 2007, 2009. With the blessing of my family I shuttered the Bistro in Early 2010 to explore a restaurant opportunity in Los Angeles.

No, the James Beard Foundation did not nominate Junior nor his restaurant for anything in 2006. What the hell is “Spot Magazine”? The Buffalo News doesn’t give out “best restaurant” annual awards. Buffalo Spree didn’t give him best restaurant ever;  not in 2007, not in 2009. Spree didn’t do “best of” in 2005. 

Janice Okun gave O’Connell’s Hourglass 3.5 stars in 2005, and 4 stars in 2009. She gave O’Connell’s American Bistro 3.5 stars in 2011. Nevertheless, he did not shutter the Bistro in 2010, but in late 2012, soon after his move to LA. 

2010-2013 9 Olives Los Angeles, California
Owner/Chef

I had the great opportunity to open a restaurant in a building that was formerly Charlie Chaplins Home on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. The restaurant was a labor of love, as I grew up in Los Angeles and had many fond memories and friends still in this community. 9 Olives was opened up as a ode to old Hollywood and specialized in fresh farm to table food and excellent service. Couple with a cocktail program that was to mirror that of employees only in NY and a wine list with fine California and European Vintages. Upon opening we received wonderful critical acclaim via LA Weekly, Sunset Magazine, and Bon Appetit magazine that named us on of the Hot 5 new restaurants in Los Angeles. Though a critical success, the size and vibe of the area did not warrant a fine dining upscale restaurant. In early 2013 we changed to a lounge tapas style establishment. This was a successful change and though hitting its stride in October of 2013 I sold my interest in 9 Olives to pursue other ventures.

Perhaps he fudged the closing date of the Bistro to make 9 Olives seem more successful than it was? Either way, I don’t see anything about 9 Olives at Bon Appetit, Sunset, or LA Weekly. What I did find was Yelp reviews, and the last handful cited Living Social and Groupon online coupons they had bought. Time Out LA never reviewed it. It has one stellar Tripadvisor review, nothing at Gayot. Not much of anything, really. 

Associations

Member of Alex’s Lemonade Stand ( pediatric cancer)
Member in Good Standing ACF
Sitting Board Member Share our Strength (Chef’s against Hunger)
Board of Directors Thomas J. Mackey Scholarship
Board of Directors Alumni Scholarship Dartmouth College

I can’t tell if he’s a member of Alex’s or the American Culinary Federation. Google has no hits for a “Thomas J. Mackey Scholarship”. I don’t see his name on the Dartmouth College website. No, he isn’t a board member – sitting or otherwise – for Share our Strength

Now, all of the materials shown above are gleaned easily online. You will note that I have not made a judgment call here about O’Connell’s food, or how he sources it. I frankly don’t care. The restaurant is closed, he’s 3,000 miles away, and like I said, I never had a meal there that I regretted. But that resume – there’s a reason it’s not online anymore.   

In December 2013, the owners of the Carson House contacted me to inquire about the credit card fraud case, because I had written about it at the time. They were about to hire O’Connell, and wanted to get more information. Of course, the credit card matter was in Montana, and not in New York, so whatever information I had about it was from the media. I’m also a lawyer and acutely aware of defamation jurisprudence. This is what I wrote back: 

I don’t have any information to contradict what Kevin has told you. From my experience, Kevin wasn’t involved in any unethical or larcenous behavior during his run at O’Connell’s in Buffalo.

Soon after arriving to town, he had to answer charges in federal court and was sentenced to a year in prison. He has always been candid and repentant about the fraud issue, as far as I know, but I would recommend perhaps speaking with the prosecutor who tried the case, or a reporter in Montana who covered the case to determine if he is being candid and accurate in his portrayal of the facts viz. his involvement. I would Google “O’Connell and Indigo Lounge and Great Falls”.

Kevin is a talented chef and good at promoting himself and his endeavors. We miss him here.

Now? He’s making up a new background for himself, and partying it up in L.A. while the mothers of his two children are waiting on child support; while his kids wonder where their dad went; while Senior apparently treats the mothers of his grandkids like garbage; while Junior traipses around the country like some manbaby, making up a new story at every stop.  

If you’re going to make stuff up, make it minimally credible. 

Buffalo: Read These

13 Jun
P5167433

Photo by Flickr user Sunny Hasija

1. It’s astonishing that racist behavior and actions like those described in this lawsuit could happen in WNY, by adults, in the past decade. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that a federal court jury in Buffalo found this systematic destruction of a worker’s life absolutely abhorrent, and awarded tens of millions of dollars in punitive damages against the Luxembourg-based steel conglomerate that did very little to stop it, or punish the perpetrators. 

2. Remember that secretive millionaire wunderkind from Cleveland who bought some of the most expensive and exclusive houses in WNY, and was planning to buy and renovate several downtown structures? His name is Michael Wilson. He was a fraud, and his financial “empire” existed only in Wilson’s mind. He even created a phantom financial professional, complete with LinkedIn profile, to help dupe unwitting investors. Wilson has since been indicted by a federal grand jury and fled the country.  His brother is awaiting trial, likely serving to attract Wilson back to WNY to face the music for his own misdeeds. When we talk about enterprise, investigatory journalism, Kevin Purdy’s compelling story should win an award – and it’s published in the Buffalo Spree. Who was Michael Wilson? Yet another carpetbagging huckster – reminiscent of the Simpsons’ monorail developer, Lyle Lanley – coming to western New York to promise us renewed relevance and prospective riches. All we have to do is, e.g., donate millions in money and land to build a Wizard of Oz theme park; or rely on the promises of a quixotic but charismatic Iraqi-Briton to miraculously complete only his second project ever, the renovation of the Statler Towers.  Buffalo’s renaissance, when it comes, will come because of hard work, planning, vision, and good government. Silver bullets don’t work any better than earnest crowdsourcing. 

3. Donnie Burtless from the local food blog Buffalo Eats interviewed retired Buffalo News restaurant critic, Janice Okun. It’s an interesting, short retrospective from someone who was once a pioneer. 

4. I can’t figure out which one is more socially acceptable – being some level of excited about Nik Wallenda’s tightwire walk across Niagara Falls, or to denigrate it altogether. 

5. Hey, folks – a new activist group called Effective NY wants a constitutional convention, and it’s run partly by YNN political host Liz Benjamin’s father.  

 

Gingrich: Give Millionaires a Leg Up!

14 Dec

The Palinist wing of the so-called “tea party” is just a front group for superwealthy conservatives. As further proof of that, their favored Presidential-candidate-of-the-month, Newt Gingrich, is proposing a reformation of the tax code to codify a lower marginal income tax rate on millionaires than on middle-class families earning $40 – 50,000.

It’s all part of the Republican Party’s war on the middle class, and the social safety net that Americans fought for throughout the course of the last century. A tax cut of this magnitude on the superwealthy would starve the federal government of revenue, resulting either in a fiscal crisis or massive cuts to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and other things on which people depend when they are elderly or in the midst of a personal financial crisis.

It’s part of an ideology that treats any public expenditure as redistributionary socialism and represents a real danger that the country slips back to conditions extant during the times of the robber barons.

Right down to Gingrich blaming America’s underclass for being poor.

Right down to Gingrich’s support for an abolition of child labor laws.

Bernie Madoff’s Whip

13 Mar

Anyone else notice that this guy, who committed a $50+ billion fraud and lived a billionaire’s lifestyle, arrived in court yesterday for his guilty plea in a Kia Sorrento?

By going to court in a $22,000 cute ute, Madoff at least shows more self-awareness than the CEOs of the big three did when they flew their Gulfstreams to Washington to beg for their handouts.

HT Kicking Tires

Blow the Whistle

23 Dec

It just might pay off:

POLONCARZ ISSUES STATEMENT ON FORMER COUNTY PROBATION DIRECTOR

Comptroller Notes His Office’s Role in Investigation

Erie County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz issued the following statement regarding the filing of criminal charges today by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against George Alexander, former chairman and chief executive officer of the New York State Division of Parole. Mr. Alexander was the former Director of the Erie County (“County”) Department of Probation (“Probation”), who resigned last week from his state position following the issuance of a New York State Inspector General report that found that he had misappropriated a County computer and engaged in wrongdoing while a senior state employee.

The announcement that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed criminal charges in Buffalo City Court against George Alexander should be viewed by the public as an affirmation of the rule that if you are a public official or employee and you misuse public resources you will be investigated and held accountable for your actions regardless of your position. As the taxpayers watchdog in Erie County I am proud that an investigation started in my office has led to an appropriate action. I applaud Attorney General Cuomo and the New York State Inspector General’s Office for their efforts to root out corruption in government and to defend taxpayers against dishonest public employees.

On April 11, 2008, my office received a one-page anonymous letter in the mail. This letter, which was also apparently sent to top state officials, county legislators, and media outlets, alleged that the County had purchased a new laptop computer using grant funds and that during an audit, the laptop had been found to be missing. The letter further stated that the laptop had been traced to Mr. Alexander, who returned the “stolen computer and the matter (was) dropped.”

Upon our receipt of this letter, my office immediately commenced an investigation. Our investigation in April-May 2008 included extensive data collection, separate interviews with seven County employees, and an interview with Mr. Alexander conducted by myself and another member of my office’s staff.

Unfortunately, during our investigation, senior officials from the Collins Administration attempted to prevent our office from investigating this matter. (WTF??!! – BP) They initially denied our request to interview County employees. Only after I threatened to issue subpoenas did the Collins Administration authorize County employees to speak with my staff. In addition, senior management in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office refused to provide my office with a copy of their police report detailing their office’s limited role in this matter (we eventually obtained a copy of the report from Probation officials). I note that Probation officials cooperated fully with our inquiry.

My investigation found inconsistencies in and between Mr. Alexander’s statements and those of his former subordinates. We believed that Mr. Alexander’s explanations and responses to our questions were not credible. We also found that Probation had no justifiable reason for purchasing the laptop at the end of the state grant and then provide it to Alexander just before he resigned from the County to join the State Division of Parole. Our report also found significant failures of internal control in Probation and the County’s purchasing and asset tracking process for equipment. It is quite apparent that only a select few Probation employees were aware of the laptop’s purchase, and none knew that Mr. Alexander possessed it.

Following our interview of Mr. Alexander, I contacted a senior aide to Governor David Paterson to inform his administration that one of their cabinet-level department heads was under investigation by my office for the misappropriation of County resources and that we were nearing completion of our review. Very shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a representative of the State Inspector General’s Office who informed me that they were commencing an investigation into the matter. In May 2008, I and my staff member charged with investigating the matter met with the Inspector General’s representatives and presented our findings to them. I was subsequently contacted by officials from the New York State Attorney General’s Office Public Integrity Bureau and shared our findings with them.

Since that time, I remained in contact with state officials concerning this matter, including the Attorney General’s office. At the request of the Inspector General’s and Attorney General’s offices, and due to their separate investigations, I did not disclose my findings or comment on this matter until they could conclude their work so as to not jeopardize any criminal investigation they were undertaking. Regardless of the outcome of this matter, I look forward to continuing to partner with the Attorney General on his efforts to root out public corruption as both our offices work to help restore the public’s trust in our government.

Now that this matter has been brought to the public, and speaking on behalf of my office, I reaffirm to the public that if you are aware of potential waste, fraud, or abuse of your tax dollars, please report it to my office immediately. Mr. Alexander’s resignation and prosecution appears to partially be the result of an anonymous tip. This shows that every tip will be investigated by my office regardless of the potential party alleged to have conducted the wrongdoing. Our office created the County’s whistleblower hotline which allows you the public to report alleged wrongdoing anonymously, via letter, e-mail, the Internet or telephone. We investigate every allegation, take all reports seriously, and as is evident from this matter, will forward the information we obtain to other parties to pursue a criminal investigation if warranted.

You Don't Know Jack

28 Jul

The Daily Gotham revealed the other day that Jack Davis has set up a fake version of Jon Powers’ website, mimicking almost exactly its layout, design, photographs, and logos. The Daily Gotham likens the whole thing to phishing scam sites that are made to look like PayPal, but actually are used to steal your identity. Here, from top to bottom, is a screenshot of Powers’ actual site, and below it is a shot from Davis’ scam site.

And indeed, it so closely resembles Powers’ real website, and uses a URL (which I’m not going to post or link to) that would lead a casual observer to believe, mistakenly, that it was a Powers-sanctioned site. Only the “Paid for by Davis for Congress” in what appears to be 6 point type at the bottom of the page reveals its true author.

First off, it’s not a parody site because it’s not funny. Seconly, it’s not protected by the fair use doctrine because it’s not using mere excerpts of Powers’ work product, but has completely mimicked his site in an effort to confuse and trick the reader. Everything right down to the logo, the font, the layout, and even the portrait, originally shot by Clarence photographer Chuck Eckert.

All of these items are protected by automatic copyright held by Mr. Powers. We all expected Jack Davis to use his millions to smear Powers. None of us expected him to do it by breaking the law and deliberately tricking prospective voters.

Instead, let’s focus on the real Jack Davis. The Jack Davis who says he’ll go to congress to battle the Democrats. The Jack Davis who is so anti-immigrant (really, anti-foreigner), he’s willing to completely disregard the needs of local farmers in his own district. The Jack Davis who ran in 2004 and lost. The Jack Davis who ran against a politically mortally wounded Tom Reynolds and lost. The Jack Davis who said in 2006 that he was “relieved” not to be going to Washington.

Oh, and the fact that Jack Davis is about as much a Democrat as Pat Buchanan. Davis just crossed a line from campaigning to outright fraud.

(Photo by itsjustkelly via Flickr)

Hey, Erie County Employees

17 Jul

Blow the whistle on fraud, waste, and other abuses of the system. The county has a budget within which it has to operate, and if people you know are futzing with the system in order to unjustly enrich themselves or otherwise cheat the county, everyone suffers. Not just the taxpayer – but you, because your job might be the one cut to make up the difference.

whistleblower@erie.gov is the email address to use.

858-7722 is the phone number to call.

Or click this link to go to the web form.

All tips will be kept confidential.

Too Good to Be True?

5 Jul

Then it probably is.

I thoroughly enjoyed these quotes from this article:

“Certainly, the allegations that we participated in any scheme with any knowledge of any scheme are totally, totally scurrilous,” Behr said. “This lawyer is an SOB, frankly.”

“This is scurrilous and scandalous that he puts stuff like that in,” Behr said. “He’s a real bastard, I have to tell you. This is not how you plead a lawsuit. He’s trying to shame us and embarrass us.”

The underlying facts, however, are more troubling:

Behr received a check for the amount owed, deducted his 15 percent fee, or $36,000, and sent the remaining $208,000 on to Yu, according to the lawsuit filed by IndyMac Bank in Pasadena, Calif., the nation’s seventh-largest savings and loan.

But there was a problem, the bank said.

The check was drawn on a home equity account the bank approved for two borrowers, and was fraudulent, according to the lawsuit filed against Behr on behalf of the bank by Richard

J. Landau of Ann Arbor, Mich. Landau demanded that Behr return the $36,000 fee, Behr refused, and Landau sued him in U. S. District Court in Buffalo.

Behr denies that he was part of any fraud.

It looks like the Buffalo lawyer was a unknowing patsy for a probably Nigerian scam operator. Here, the bank is the victim – not the lawyer, amazingly enough. I’d be very curious to see what sort of information “Xu Yu” sent to verify his identity. I guess I’ll have to pull up the complaint…

Mayor's Impact Team: More to It

30 Apr

Is Bill Buyers from the Mayor’s Impact Team a sinner or a saint?

In response to my post about him yesterday, “Viking” posted this comment:

Is this the same Buyers who allegedly donates his pay to charity, and volunteers his time to the needy and homeless. The political hack who can get more done with a strategically placed phone call, then all most any elected local official. The guy every politically ambitious individuals takes counsel from and panders to. The old man, who you see sweeping the streets and shoveling snow in the winter with two bad knees. The former deputy sheriff, public safety officer, councilman, deputy human resource commissioner and human resource commissioner. Holy shit, the nerve of this guy to take advantage of his position, you’d think he’d know better.

Viking posted the same comment at Artvoice’s blog here.

Buyers is accused of having city workers use city equipment and vehicles to do private work in his backyard. That is an obvious and grave violation of the law and the public trust. I don’t care how much of his pay he “allegedly donates” to charity (proof, please – and the “allegedly” says it all). I don’t care how much time he volunteers to anyone. Does that somehow entitle him to a pass when violating the law? Oh, Bill cost the city hundreds of dollars in public time, fuel, and money, but he’s generous to charitable causes, so it’s ok. Doesn’t work that way. The rest of it sounds pretty much like any other person who avoids the dreaded private sector like the plague.

In any event, Geoff Kelly was thereby prompted to reveal the rumor he’s investigating:

I heard that the Mayor’s Impact Team has used public money to purchase goods for private use.

I don’t know if Buyers is a good guy or not, or how much good work he’s done. I know he’s been in government a long time. If he’s cheating the taxpayer, being a good guy is no defense. And if an audit shows that the Mayor’s Impact Team does this sort of thing regularly and suggests that higher-ups in the administration have turned a blind eye to the practice, then those higher-ups have no defense either.

Precisely.

While the Big Dig was being dug, a contractor was accused of stealing tile to use in his home. Damned if I can find anything about it now on Google, but I remember it distinctly. God only knows how much of that goes on in this area.

Caught in the Act!

29 Apr

Kudos to Steve Barber and embattled Channel 7, which caught members of the Mayor’s Impact Team doing yardwork at another member’s North Buffalo home using city equipment and vehicles. The City Comptroller is now conducting an audit, and Artvoice’s Geoff Kelly has his FOIL requests out. But note from this post that his request is to follow-up on a separate, unrelated rumor he heard and has nothing to do with this particular incident.

The Boston Herald used to do these types of “gotcha” stories all the time, and frankly I thought they were great. They not only led to big sales, but kept people working on the people’s dime on their toes.

I suspect that this is only the very tippy-top of a massive iceberg.

Photo courtesy of Calanan via Flickr