Wednesday, October 5, 2011
How Bloomberg rewards his volunteers
From the NY Times:
Michael R. Bloomberg took his turn in the witness chair in one of the odder political trials in recent memory. Never glancing at the jurors, his facial muscles held in equipoise during cross-examination, he called to mind a lizard sitting in the sun.
Patricia E. Harris, the first deputy mayor, took off three months from her day job to “volunteer” in the mayor’s campaign, and walked away with a $450,000 thank-you from the mayor. Kevin Sheekey, the former deputy mayor, also “volunteered” and walked away with a pile. (He promised on his first day of testimony to ask his wife how much the mayor paid him; the next day, Mr. Sheekey explained that the couple had taken in a movie and darned if the question had not slipped his mind.)
It’s in this context that Mr. Haggerty finds himself sitting at the defense table staring at old friends. He was not so much a “volunteer” as a prized political operative who specialized in putting his candidates on the ballot, and trying to knock opponents off. He is adept at what is called ballot security in a courtroom — but voter suppression on the streets of New York.
Bloomberg largely kept his cool under intense cross-examination, even when the questions touched upon everything from his decision to run for a third term to a payroll scandal at City Hall.
He did, however, show a lack of knowledge about some key aspects of the case, namely the laws governing contributions to political parties.
“Quite frankly we were a little surprised with the number of questions that the mayor simply did not know the answer to,” said Dennis Vacco, attorney for John Haggerty.
At one point, in an apparent effort to discredit the mayor, the defense tried to use words from the mayor's own autobiography against him. The prosecution pounced, calling it courtroom theater.
“That is not an ambush when we are pointing to the witness’ own words in an autobiography. This is the DA’s witness. He is not ours. You would think that the DA would come better prepared,” said Vacco.