Ben Carson’s HUD, planning cuts, spends $31,000 on dining set for his office

Glenn Thrush, New York Times Published 3:47 pm, Tuesday, February 27, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-4', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 4', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: TY WRIGHT/NYT Image 1of/4 CaptionClose Image 1 of 4 FILE —€” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carso­n talks with local officials of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, and other organizations, while taking a tour of Franklin Station Apartments in Columbus, Ohio, April 27, 2017. Carson's wife is accused of pressuring officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development for an expensive redecoration of his office. less FILE —€” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carso­n talks with local officials of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, and other organizations, while taking a tour of Franklin Station ... more Photo: TY WRIGHT/NYT Image 2 of 4 FILE — President Trump descends from Air Force One with Housing and Urban Developmen­t Secretary Ben Carso­n in Reno, Nevada, on Aug. 23, 2017. Carson'€™s wife is accused of pressuring officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development for an expensive redecoration of his office. less FILE — President Trump descends from Air Force One with Housing and Urban Developmen­t Secretary Ben Carso­n in Reno, Nevada, on Aug. 23, 2017. Carson'€™s wife is accused of pressuring officials at the ... more Photo: TOM BRENNER/NYT Image 3 of 4 The Robert C. Weaver Federal Building in Washington, Jan. 22, 2018. Housi­ng and Urban Development Continue Reading

Know Your Madisonian: Habitat for Humanity CEO dedicated to helping families, communities succeed

Valerie Johnson Renk married into a Sun Prairie family known for its hybrid seed corn that helps farmers maximize their yields. And while Johnson Renk lives on the family farm that was established before statehood, her daily mission is based on Madison’s South Side, but isn’t measured in bushels. Instead, it’s all about helping families, neighborhoods and communities succeed in her role as CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County, a position she’s held since 2012. The most visual results can be seen at least 15 times a year when a family moves into a home they have purchased at full price through sweat equity and financing through Habitat’s programs. There are also two Re-Stores, one on Odana Road and another in Monona, that sell used or surplus building products and items for the home. But the 30-year-old Dane County chapter of the national organization trumpeted by former President Jimmy Carter is also expanding its mission with more financial literacy programs, land purchases and a new designation that allows Habitat to work more like a bank in helping those who can’t afford financing through typical commercial lenders. Johnson Renk, 53, grew up on a dairy farm near Brodhead in Rock County and graduated from UW-Madison where she studied agricultural journalism. She’s held positions with AgSource Cooperative Services in Verona, CUNA, World Dairy Expo, the American Society of Agronomy and the World Council of Credit Unions. She now oversees a staff of 32 at Habitat, an annual budget of about $7 million and a team of over 3,200 volunteers. There’s also a move in the works — the offices on Fiedler Lane just off Badger Road are moving to a more efficient and modern space on Greenway Cross. The move, however, is bittersweet, as Habitat is leaving the area where its first dwellings were created, helping turn one of Madison’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods into a safer place to call home. Continue Reading

Donald Trump’s presidential hopes are riding on the nephew of a legendary Atlantic City lawyer

Don McGahn’s picture is conspicuously missing from the wall of former commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, and it’s nowhere on the agency’s website.The former FEC chairman’s presence, though, is still felt, nearly three years after he resigned from the commission. Former colleagues and fellow lawyers describe him as a disruptor who proudly upended enforcement policies and contributed to the FEC’s current gridlocked state.“I came here to work, to change the way the place thinks. I was proven right time and time again by court cases,” McGahn told the Center for Public Integrity shortly after stepping down.McGahn is now a key player for the presidential campaign machine of an even more disruptive Donald — presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump — who’s rocketing toward a likely general election showdown with Democrat Hillary Clinton.But the two Donalds are most curious partners.Their working relationship’s tangled roots reach back decades to Atlantic City, where McGahn’s powerful uncle represented Trump’s business interests — until the alliance cracked in a bitter feud over money. Trump sues former lawyer Patrick "Paddy" McGahn Donald Trump has sued his former lawyer, Patrick McGahn Jr., for allegedly billing his three… And the younger McGahn and Trump are hardly ideological soulmates. Trump has repeatedly railed against what he considers the poison of special-interest money in politics, while McGahn is best known for helping special interests play politics with as few restrictions as possible.Perhaps it’s a marriage of convenience between a brash billionaire and one of the savviest campaign lawyers his money can buy. Regardless, McGahn is one of a small group of insiders who have been standing at Trump’s side since the mogul launched his unlikely, odds-defying bid last June.McGahn has up to now operated mostly in the background — Continue Reading

President Trump eyes White House staff shakeup for damage control after Jared Kushner-Russia bombshell

With the Russian influence scandal ensnaring the President’s own son-in-law, the White House has begun recruiting new lawyers and old campaign hands to contain the fallout and get back on message, according to reports. Frustrated by his current team’s inability to put the crisis fire out, President Trump is considering a staff shakeup that would bring in people better skilled at damage control. So overwhelming is the probe into Moscow’s meddling that it overshadowed Trump’s first trip abroad as President last week. It was then that reports surfaced that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a focus of investigations into ties between Russia and the President’s campaign. In response, White House aides have recruited a number of prominent Washington lawyers with experience in political investigations for Trump to interview, according to The New York Times. Trump is also considering bringing former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski back into the fold, along with Trump’s former deputy campaign manager David Bossie. Under a scenario being discussed, the two would help manage a war room responsible for getting Trump’s message out amid distractions and scandals. The Washington Post reported Friday that Kushner, a real estate mogul, met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December to talk about setting up a secret communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin using Russian diplomatic services. Kushner was reportedly joined by Michael Flynn, who would resign, after just 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser following reports that he secretly spoke with Kislyak about sanctions and lied about it. The FBI is reportedly looking into Kushner and the Kislyak conversation as part of its probe into Russia’s hacking of the 2016 campaign and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The revelation prompted a call from the Continue Reading

Rep. Phil Roe wrote blueprint for Obamacare repeal

WASHINGTON — As President-elect Donald Trump looks for a way to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, he should consider calling U.S. Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee.Roe, a Johnson City Republican and one of 17 physicians in Congress, wrote a blueprint more than three years ago for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a system that is more patient centered and market driven.The bill, which Roe called the American Health Care Reform Act, was eagerly embraced by the Republican Study Committee — the research arm of conservatives in the House — but quickly stalled and was never put to a vote.Roe said last week he thinks it’s time to dust off the bill and try again. He even went so far as to predict that the system Trump and congressional Republicans eventually come up with for replacing Obamacare could borrow up to 80 percent of the ideas in his legislation.“The Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is going to be repealed,” he said. “I will be knee-deep in working on that (new) bill.”Roe’s bill is a wish list of health care proposals Republicans have been waiting to turn into law for years.It would create a standard health insurance tax deduction ($7,500 for individuals, $20,500 for families) to create a level playing field between people who get their insurance through their employer and those who buy a policy on the individual market.Federal support for state-sponsored high-risk insurance pools would be expanded so that people with pre-existing conditions could continue to be covered. Consumers would be able to shop across state lines for an insurance policy, and small businesses would be able to pool together to negotiate for better rates.The amount of pre-tax dollars that can be deposited in health savings accounts would be increased so that policyholders could use their money to help pay for health care expenses. Medical practice laws would be changed to limit trial lawyer fees and Continue Reading

Attorneys launch BrooklynTenant Lawyers Networks to press for Housing Court improvements

Tenant lawyers, heavily outnumbered in Brooklyn Housing Court by attorneys representing landlords, have launched a bar association all their own to press for better access to judges. “It’s time to stand up and be counted,” said Karen Bacdayan, a newly elected co-chairman of the Brooklyn Tenant Lawyers Network, which signed up more than 60 members right out of the starting gate. “There’s an automatic power imbalance in court, because so many landlords have lawyers,” said Bacdayan, who works at Legal Services NYC-Brooklyn Branch. The other co-chairman is Michael Weisberg of South Brooklyn Legal Services. Just 5% to 10% of tenants in Brooklyn Housing Court have attorneys represent them — compared with 85% of landlords. Bacdayan said the tenant lawyers’ group was created as a “counterpoint” to a 20-year-old organization, the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association. All but one of Kings County’s 35 paying members are landlords’ attorneys, and the additional 100 non-members who attend meetings and functions are predominantly landlords’ attorneys, said its president, Michael Rosenthal. Still, “we listened to both sides,” Rosenthal said. The tenant lawyers’ group, which doesn’t charge membership dues, will try to make its voice heard by committees that make recommendations for housing judges’ appointments. Also, it plans to work with supervising judges to improve conditions at the Housing Court facility on Livingston St. “In these tough economic times, the stress level on all sides keeps going up and up — it’s a very charged atmosphere,” said Diane Lutwak of the Legal Aid Society Brooklyn Office for the Aging. She and colleague Kimberly Skadan are the tenant lawyer association’s co-secretaries. “When you’re feeling stressed, it helps to be able to work for positive change for everybody,” Continue Reading

Learn about candidates for Kentucky House

Kentucky's general election is Nov. 8. For Kentucky House of Representative races in Jefferson County area, the CJ gave candidates the opportunity to provide some brief information about themselves and their positions. Some candidates have not yet responded.If you are a candidate and did not supply information and a photo, send up to 250 words to [email protected] Michael Payne (R) -- Michael Payne is a lifelong resident of Southwest Jefferson County who shares the concerns and values of his community. He is married with two children. A graduate of Valley High School, class of 1990, Michael has gone on to get technical degrees in both mechanical and architectural design technology from the Sullivan University System. Michael has also studied political science at the University of Louisville. With 13 years of experience as an engineering specialist with the UPS Airline, Michael has gained an understanding of transportation systems and large-scale logistics operations. In 2015, he left UPS to become the engineering manager for Cardinal Integrated Systems where he is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the engineering department, client relations and business development. Since 2008 he has also worked as an instructor at the Sullivan College of Technology and Design in the Mechanical Design program. Michael is a pro-life, pro-growth Republican seeking the nomination for Kentucky House District 28. He hopes to utilize his skills to promote business development, address the shortcomings in the education system, and protect individual freedoms. Michael is a strong proponent of tax reform, fiscal discipline, the Second Amendment, school vouchers and religious freedom. Charles W. Miller (D) --I am proud to serve as a state representative for southwest Jefferson County. As a husband, father and grandfather, I am committed to finding solutions to the many tough issues facing our state. Having been a teacher, a coach and a principal, I Continue Reading

Delaware provides tax shelter for multimillion-dollar masterpieces

Geneva, Monaco, Luxembourg and ... Delaware?Long a darling of secretive limited liability companies, the First State is building a reputation as a prime location for out-of-state art collectors and investors to park their multimillion-dollar masterpieces and reap the tax benefits.In the last two years, New Castle County has seen a proliferation of maximum-security art storage companies, including several Manhattan offshoots, that lock up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of paintings and sculptures by Old Masters and buzzworthy emerging artists.But ordinary citizens will likely never see this work, including a 10-piece rocket installation. That's because many of these one-of-a-kind creations will never leave their crates.Art buyers, including those more passionate about diversifying their portfolios than enjoying their artwork, can ship their purchases directly to Delaware storage facilities and avoid paying sales tax for as long as the items remain here. For the Manhattanite, that amounts to a nearly $900,000 savings on a $10 million painting.The advantages don't stop there. Delaware doesn't tax inventory, it recently repealed its estate tax and it offers less expensive land for storage facilities ideally situated between New York and Washington, D.C., art experts say.As Geneva and New York crack down on an opaque art market reeling from money laundering and tax evasion scandals, Delaware shines as a pro-business beacon, one that is, arguably, less likely to suffer loss from terrorists, natural disasters or art capers. STORY: Delaware's unemployment rate continues to climb, bucking national trend STORY: DTC's 'Something Wicked': Dazzling theatrical rocket ride Several storage companies offer direct, weekly shuttle service from Delaware to New York –– and back again. Masterworks are transported from cavernous warehouses straight out of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to New York City Continue Reading

Albany lawmakers have more time for scandals than for governing

Even as New Yorkers are screaming from the rooftops for jobs, housing, better schools and lower taxes, the state's political establishment has fallen into confusion that will prove fatal to many incumbents when Election Day rolls around in nine months.Democratic county and state leaders, who should be mapping out a strategy to hold on to important seats - none more critical than the razor-thin majority in the state Senate - have been wasting precious time on scandals, gossip and grudge matches instead of governing.Chimeras like The New York Times' nonstory on Gov. Paterson and one of his top aides have consumed an inordinate amount of time and attention, as has the ill-conceived and legally suspect effort by Democratic senators to expel Hiram Monserrate from their body.Republicans have fared no better, waging a high-profile fratricidal battle that handed upstate's 23rd Congressional District over to Democrats for the first time in more than a century.Republican big shots have fallen on hard times: Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani's decision not to seek office came a few weeks after the felony conviction of his former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, who is set to be sentenced to federal prison today.Joe Bruno, the longtime leader of the state Senate, will be sentenced next month following his conviction on corruption charges. A weakened and divided GOP has proved unable to field strong candidates for governor, state controller or either of the two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs.Meanwhile, the people suffer. A torrent of service cuts, tax hikes and fee increases are about to gush out of Albany as lawmakers try to close a budget gap now estimated at $7 billion to $8 billion.Longstanding bread-and-butter issues remain in legislative limbo.New York farmworkers remain exempt from labor protections the rest of us take for granted, like the right to bathroom breaks, overtime and a five-day workweek. A bill to cure this injustice could, once again, die in committee.A much-needed Continue Reading

Boro beat: Cops prep for pontiff’s visit

Assistant Chief Tom Purtell and his minions at Patrol Borough Bronx who escaped having to deal with playoffs at Yankee Stadium are battening down the hatches and bracing for Pope Benedict celebrating Mass there on April 20 at the end of his four-day U.S. tour. To settle those bar bets, Pope John Paul II was the last Holy Father to turn the House that Ruth Built into the House of Prayer - in 1979, with a prior visit as a cardinal in 1969. Pope Paul VI was the first papal visitor to North America and the Stadium in 1965. The Rev. Billy Graham made a pitch for Jesus there in 1957. We're told Purtell's folks are dusting off the old playbooks from those events, and maybe even from Stadium shows by those near-divinities, the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Bloomberg's ace in the hole Mayor Bloomberg on his WABC radio show talking about the city paying $7 million to break the contract with developer of the taking-forever Ferry Point Golf Course: "It's a mess ... There was a contract entered into long before our administration ... It turns out it was a terrible contract. But that doesn't mean you go criticize the guys that did it because, for all I know, I would have done the same thing. Maybe at that time it appeared to be a great contract." Giant gala for Gorman It was a mob scene of almost 400 cops, clerics, city and borough pols, civic and business leaders and just plain friends showing up to help the Rev. Richard Gorman celebrate his 25th anniversary in the priesthood on Sunday at the Marina del Rey. Among those giving their props: City Controller William Thompson, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, former Bronx Beep Freddy Ferrer, powerhouse lawyer "Don't Worry Murray" Richman, Mario Biaggi, a slew of judges and just about every current north and east Bronx elected official. "If somebody threw a bomb into the room, the Bronx would stop," said one wag, adding - "for better or worse." Gorman, longtime chairman of Community Board 12 in Continue Reading