“Ethics? What’s Ethics?” Mayor Adams Takes The Reins…[Updated!]

Next time a New York Democrat complains about an elected government official’s ethics when he or she identifies as Republican, breaking out into uncontrollable laughter would be appropriate.

New New York City Eric Adams, elected as the “anti-de Blasio,” almost immediately proved that he has at least one thing in common with New York’s “Worst Mayor Ever.” Just a few days ago, Ethics Alarms noted that the former mayor had defiantly continued to ask corporate contractors for the city to contribute to a de Blasio slush fund, in a time honored unethical shakedown ploy known as “pay to play,” even though he had been formally warned to cut it out by the city’s ethics board. Now the new improved mayor is also signalling that he isn’t very concerned about ethics, the appearance of impropriety, or conflicts of interest.

Adams appointed as his sole male deputy mayor (the other five are female) Philip Banks III, who comes with some interesting baggage. (That’s Banks above on the right, the new mayor is on the left.)

Continue reading

Not Seeking Prison Sentences For Serious Crimes Has Worked So Well In San Francisco, Manhattan’s DA Will Do The Same

The title is sarcastic: that is the proverbial flat learning curve above.

The “woke” DA of the City by the Bay’s policies have contributed to turning San Francisco into such a crime-ridden hell-hole that even its uber-progressive mayor, London Breed, has metaphorically cried “uncle.” So, naturally, the new DA for Manhattan, ushered into office just as the city has a new mayor who pledged to be tough on crime, wants to follow a similarly lenient policy regarding criminals….and New York is already suffering from its worst crime wave since the Seventies.

What could go wrong?

In his introductory memo to his staff this week, Alvin Bragg announced that his office “will not seek a carceral sentence” except for murder and a handful of other cases, including domestic violence felonies, some sex crimes and public corruption.

Continue reading

Furious Ethics Catch-Up, 1/4/2022: “I’m Not Dead!” Edition

Well, there I was last night, showing my wife my favorite “Schoolhouse Rock” segment (“Interjections,” a Grammar Rock episode) and getting ready to post an evening ethics potpourri when the Disney Channel, which I only have because I wanted to see the “Get Back” documentary, kicked out. The snow storm’s aftermath had caused an outage in our phone and internet connection (at least we had power, and weren’t stuck on I-95 like hundreds of motorists in Northern Virginia were last night), and Comcast didn’t get everything back up until a few minutes ago. A totally lost day for ProEthics and Ethics Alarms, but the sage words of my friend Tom Fuller kept echoing in my brain like all the Tara lines coming back to Scarlet after Rhett walks out on her. “When you have no options, you have no problem,” Tom always says, and this was a classic example. We were snowed in, and had no communications (not even a newspaper since the second); might as well relax: Snow day!

I was able to get a head start on some items, at least. I apologize for the void…and for any comments marooned in moderation (as well as the inevitable mermaidmary comment unjustly spammed).

But at least I’m not dead.

[That’s the correct Mark Twain quote above, incidentally. He also said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”]

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/21: An Old Treaty, A Bad Dad, Clothes For Seductive Kids, Chris Wallace Trades The Pot For The Kettle, And New York Being New York

I feel like Dean established the standard for this holiday standard, written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne (“Gypsy,” “Funny Girl”) in July 1945. World War II inspired so many Christmas and holiday songs, notably “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

1. Meeting the terms of a still valid 19th Century treaty seems like an ethical imperative, no? Kim Teehee was selected as the Cherokee people’s first nonvoting U.S. House delegate two years ago; now all that is needed is for the U.S. to make good on a deal it struck with the Cherokee Nation in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, signed by President Andrew Jackson and ratified by the Senate, promising the tribe a non-voting House delegate. There are apparently some details to work out, among them how to respond when other tribes quite reasonably insist that they also deserve this limited representation in Congress, similar to the what D.C. has. One would think that 180 years is enough time for the complexities to be resolved, especially since the Cherokee Nation’s price for the promise of a non-voting House member was The Trail of Tears, when the tribe was forced to move out of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee to what is now Oklahoma, with more than 4,000 Cherokees dying along the way. There are an estimated 400,000 Cherokees today.

Why has it taken so long for this to become an issue? Well, as for the U.S., it conveniently “forgot” until historians re-discovered the terms of the treaty 50 years ago. The Cherokees hadn’t pressed the U.S. on meeting its treaty obligations because, as the principle chief of Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr. explains, they had other priorities. “Asserting every detail of that treaty was not on their minds,” he says. “It was surviving.”

Continue reading

The Unethical Prosecutors Ethics Train Wreck

I went to law school to be a prosecutor, and was one for about two weeks after I passed the Massachusetts Bar. Then I was quickly disillusioned, and realized that the weird, intrinsically ethically-conflicted criminal justice system was something out of which I had to get, and the sooner the better. I never looked back, and the situation is even worse now than I thought it was then.

Netflix has truly eye-opening and disturbing documentary about the subject of John Grisham’s only non-fiction book (out of more than 40). Both the book and the film are called “An Innocent Man,” and involve two criminal cases, both murder-rapes of young women, in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma in the Eighties. The title is ambiguous, for there isn’t just one innocent man, but four, all wrongly convicted of rape and murder because of police and prosecutorial misconduct of head-exploding magnitude. At the end of the documentary, two of the men had been freed after serving 12 years for a murder and rape with no physical evidence that incriminated them, and the remaining two were pursuing appeals. (One of them, who had been on death row, was finally freed last summer. The other has had his conviction overturned, but the state is appealing. Both of the men had been in prison for 35 years.)

The prosecutor was the same for both murder cases, and his comments defy belief. In one case, the actual murderer was the prosecution’s prime witness against the innocent men convicted, and evidence implicating him at the time of the crime was withheld by the Ada police who were involved with killer in a drug scheme. More evidence, so-called Brady material that prosecutors are required by law to reveal to defense attorneys, was illegally withheld by the DA. Asked if he owed an apology to the two men the jury convicted when the uncovered evidence prompted their release, the prosecutor’s reply was that he had nothing to apologize for, because he did his job.

No, his job is to try and convict guilty people. That case was finally blown up by the Innocence Project and DNA evidence.

The other case is even worse, believe it or not. A missing girl was seen by a single witness, from a distance, at night, being pulled into a car by two men. An artist’s crude approximation of the witness’s description led to the arrest of one suspectn, who was first shown to the witness, and then the witness was asked to pick him out of a line-up. (That’s an illegal line-up trick, as you can guess.) The second suspect was arrested because he knew the first suspect, and because one of the sketches vaguely resembled him. The first suspect, a young man known in the town as “slow,” confessed following r many hours of grilling by police and gave a detailed description of what the two men had done to the girl, including where they had buried her. Then the second man was led to confirm his own participation in the crime as it had been described by his friend. The taped confessions (and not the illegal questioning leading up to them, which was not recorded) were the only evidence presented at their trial.

Decades later, the body of the victim was found in a shallow grave 30 miles from where the convicted men had said she was buried. She was clothed in a dress bearing no resemblance to the one the men described. Most disturbing of all, forensics showed no evidence of rape, and she had been killed by a single bullet to the back of the head, not by stabbing. The men got a new trial, and were convicted again, with the same DA arguing for their guilt. His explanation: the girl was dead, they confessed to the killing, and the details don’t matter.

Among the 800 pages of Brady material withheld from the two men’s lawyers: a man who resembled one of the sketches had come to police and confessed to the murder before they were convicted.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Picnic, 8/15/2021: Afghanistan Accountability And Suicide Ethics [Corrected!]

Vessel I

1. Giving credit where credit is due, at least some of the mainstream media isn’t avoiding calling attention to the Biden Administration’s epic debacle in Afghanistan. This is only a half IIPTDXTTNMIAFB: if Trump had done something even close to this incompetent, the news media would have been in full-fledged meltdown. In fact, there are enough harsh assessments coming from places that are not conservative mouthpieces that maybe Biden will face actual accountability for a change. (Nah, what am I saying?) CNN’s Jake Tapper, who occasionally has flashbacks to his pre-CNN days when he was a fairand trustworthy journalist, grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding Biden’s comments from last month, when he declared that it was “highly unlikely” the Taliban would overrun Afghanistan. That’s some intelligence work there, Joe! After some awkward huminahumina-ing, Blinken, kept trying to change the subject, defaulting to how everything was Trump’s fault. Amazingly, Tapper wouldn’t let him get away with it.

“You keep changing the subject to whether or not we should be there forever. And I’m not talking about that,” Tapper told Blinken. “I’m talking about whether or not this exit was done properly, taking out all the service members before those Americans and those Afghan translators could get out. That’s what I’m talking about. And then you have to send people back in. That’s the definition of, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t have taken those troops out, because now we have to send twice as many back in.'”

On Medium, political analyst John Ellis was on fire, writing in part,

“Handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban is President Biden’s idea, if that’s the right word, and his alone. It is terrible policy, on any number of levels. “Worse than a crime, a mistake” (Talleyrand’s phrase) describes it best. Axios reports that the Administration “derives comfort from the fact that the American public is behind them — an overwhelming majority support withdrawal from Afghanistan — and they bet they won’t be punished politically for executing a withdrawal.” Given events and the likely consequences, the fact that the Administration “derives comfort” from anything regarding its decision to hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban is nauseous. That they’re “betting” they will escape political punishment is perhaps more so….”

But that’s the routine, now. The Democrats count on the news media to minimize or hide their worst botches, so the public won’t know what’s going on and will keep on voting like good littel lambs. Other notes from Ellis:

  • “Abandoning the Kurds under Trump was bad enough. But this makes that look like home leave. This is an epic betrayal and strategically foolish to boot….
  • “…If you’re President Xi, you see Afghanistan, clearly, for what it is: a humiliating defeat for the United States. He might call it “flexible humiliation.” And what he knows from history is that defeated nations have little appetite for war in the immediate aftermath of losing one. Taiwan is there for the taking….
  • “When President Biden first announced that the US would be “leaving” Afghanistan, he set September 11, 2021 as the date when every last one of our people would be out. The announcement was greeted with astonished disbelief around the world. Could it really be possible that the US would officially hand over Afghanistan to the people who made it possible for Al Qaeda to attack it 20 years ago………on the very day of that attack? The answer was “yes,” although the Administration subsequently tried to walk it back without bringing attention to the fact that they were trying to walk it back.”

Ellis concludes, “Remarkably, the American press gave the president a pass on this, which seems to be its default setting when it comes to the Biden administration. “Trump was so much worse,” is the always-applicable rationale. Not in this case. Not by a long shot.”

Continue reading

Tales Of The Great Stupid: Clarence Darrow’s Worst Idea Takes Hold In New York City

America’s greatest trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow, defended guilty criminals in part because he believed that it was cruel and unjust to punish citizens who committed crimes, even violent ones. Darrow, a pioneering progressive, lectured, debated and wrote that people committed crimes because of conditions beyond their control: bad parents, stupidity, mental illness, no education, poverty. Since those who committed crimes literally couldn’t stop themselves, punishment was revenge without reason. Sending someone to jail, far from advancing civilized conduct, not only destroys the life of the perpetrator but also creates a false sense of accomplishment, ignoring the socioeconomic “root causes” of crime. Nobody born free, the lawyer fervently held, should lose his or her liberty because of bad genes or bad luck.

It was and is a batty theory, and until very recently, one wouldn’t find anyone advocating it who wasn’t lying, ignorant, or a criminal himself. No longer. Today Darrow’s worst idea is running amuck in several big cities in the grip of woke Democratic government, and where it stops, nobody knows.

Take New York City…please.

The Big Rotten Apple has decided not to prosecute “quality of life” offenses, from littering to public urination to jumping subway turnstiles, with the predictable result that the quality of life for law abiding New Yorkers has cratered. Last summer, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice crowed that “the number of New Yorkers held in New York City jails had shrunk by 27% in 10 weeks, bringing the city’s incarcerated population down to the lowest level since 1946.Wow! Isn’t that great? Of course, by some coincidence, murders and shootings were rising more quickly than ever before.

Continue reading

Authentic Frontier Gibberish Kills: The Gun Policy Doubletalk Of Maya Wiley

“Authentic Frontier Gibberish,” or AFG, named in honor of Gabby Johnson of “Blazing Saddles” fame, is the public phenomenon of solemn and meaningful-sounding word clouds designed to make the naive and the barely educated (that is, most of society) feel certain that they are in the presence of superior intellect when in fact they are in the thrall of either con artists or morons.

Ethically, it falls somewhere under the categories of dishonesty, incompetence and disrespect, depending on the AFG culprit. It would be difficult to find a more blazing example than the “Gun Violence Prevention Policy” offered by Maya Wiley, the civil rights attorney and former de Blasio counsel who’s running for mayor along with approximately half the city. Gun-related violence has roughly doubled in New York City thanks to the weak law enforcement policies of her client, so Wiley is giving the same foolish voters who elected de Blasio twice a chance to emulate San Francisco and make the city even more dangerous and unlivable. At least I think that’s what she’s proposing. As with all “Authentic Frontier Gibberish,” it’s hard to tell, and that, of course, is the plan.

I’m going to stick with the summary, by your leave, but you can try to make sense out of the whole thing if you are a masochist or an optimist. One part of both that is frighteningly clear: Wiley pledges to “Reduce the NYPD budget by $1 billion and invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence.” The second part of that sentence is classic AFG, since “invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence” is meaningless, but the first part is called “Defunding the police.” Almost 10% of the NYPD’s operating budget was cut in the last budget cycle, and the result was a crime wave. Obviously the best plan is to cut more!

Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch

crooked councilman

This guy is quite a piece of… work.

Chaim Deutsch, a New York City councilman representing Brooklyn pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion last week. He didn’t pay $82,000 in taxes and deducted fraudulent business expenses related to his real estate management company. For that, the Democrat could face up to a year in prison. He doesn’t have to resign though, due to a technicality.

Under the public officers law, Council members face automatic expulsion if they plead guilty to a felony or a crime related to their elected office. But Deutsch, in his plea deal, only pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and it involved his personal finances. He doesn’t have to resign, and apparently he won’t.

Deutsch’s lawyer says his client’s guilty plea won’t interfere with his ability to carry out his Council duties. “He intends to fulfill the will of the voters and complete the term for which he was elected,” the mouthpiece says. I’m pretty sure the will of the voters has substantially changed, now that they know they voted for a crook. And a felon—which is what Deutsch is no matter what he pleaded to—can’t possibly ” carry out his Council duties.” Among those duties is maintaining the public’s trust. He is also likely to have his influence on the Council reduced to the vanishing point, as it plans on punishing Brooklyn’s finest if he refuses to resign. That’s certainly not in the interests of his constituents.

“New York City Council member Chaim Deutsch admitted today that he defrauded the I.R.S. in connection with his real estate business,” Audrey Strauss, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “As an elected official and community leader, Deutsch had a particular responsibility to follow the law. Instead, over a multiyear period, Deutsch concealed his true business income to avoid paying his fair share of taxes.”

But Deutsch is determined to follow one law, at least: the one allowing him to stay in office until his term expires. He’s a stickler for that one.

The Andrew Yang Affair

Andrew Yang, as of this week the front-runner for mayor of New York City, did nothing unethical.

Well, allow me to modify that. Allowing yourself to be placed at the mercy of a stranger while being videoed is political incompetence. And his fake laugh was too convincing.

The video above, since the news media no longer allows the public to hear or read essential aspects of such stories because journalists regard themselves as public censors, is confusing, so here is what transpired.

The whole, unblurred, unbleeped video is on TikTok, and WordPress won’t let me embed TikTok. Someone the candidate to let him take a phone video as another stranger, a smiling and giddy black man, asks Yang whether a man, “while he’s fucking bitches, can he keep his Timbs on?.” — a reference to Timberland boots. Yang’s answer, under the circumstances, is pretty deft: “I think it’s purely up to your partner.”

Then the classy New Yorker asks Yang whether he “choke[s] bitches,” and Yang laughs—convincingly, I must say— and leaves.

Gotcha!

Yang’s polite engagement with the man after he used the word “bitches” and his apparently hardy laughter after the “choke bitches” line made him an inviting target of feminists and his rivals.

Continue reading