I was struck by where former Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin chose to announce he was withdrawing his name from the ballot in the upcoming election. He made the announcement through a video he posted on Twitter near the spot where Arnold Newman photographed Langston Hughes in 1960.
This location (overlooking 5th Avenue) was also featured in the classic Harlem film, The Cool World:
Union Settlement House Presents: East Harlem Nights
A fun evening with food, drink, entertainment, and El Barrio welcoming all.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin turned himself in to federal authorities in Lower Manhattan as they unsealed his indictment. He faces five bribery charges and related allegations tied to a campaign contribution scheme first exposed by The City.
It was last January when The City first reported on suspicious campaign donations to Benjamin’s campaign for city comptroller, including a contribution from a 2-year-old boy. The funds were potentially eligible to be publicly matched $8 for every dollar contributed, up to $100 for each named donor.
His camp promised to return the cash. By late February, they had given back more than $13,000 in contributions tied to Gerald Migdol, a Harlem real estate entrepreneur, the Campaign Finance Board said at the time.
In August, despite THE CITY’s revelations, newly elevated Gov. Kathy Hochul chose then-state senator Benjamin as her lieutenant. Then, just after Hochul’s win in the November election, federal prosecutors indicted Migdol in an illegal campaign funding scheme.
We now know Benjamin had been subpoenaed by local and federal law enforcement authorities prior to his selection by Hochul, which he failed to disclose to Hochul or in a state form.
The indictment alleges that Benjamin met repeatedly with Migdol, identified as “CC-1,” to collect money orders Migdol had orchestrated. In exchange, they allege, he arranged a $50,000 grant to a nonprofit Migdol controls.
Simone Marques writes (and you can see our recent HNBA guest, Wilfredo Lopez who is running for New York State Assembly in the photos):
Hello dear Earth keepers!I hope you had a beautiful winter! Here, I’ve been doing lots of winter sowing… Yes, no reason to stop gardening during the winter if you can create mini green houses with translucent containers! And I’m reusing all kinds of containers, including 50 water bottles I rescued from the NYC Marathon last year. It’s a fun project! Just plant your natives seeds (the kind of seeds that go dormant and need cold stratification) and leave them outside all winter. When the time is right, they will germinate. Many of our natives can be direct sown too, so now it’s a good time to get your seeds. I bought them at Prairie Moon Nursery and on their website you can do a search by germination code. Code A is for direct sow. If you prefer plugs, I believe you can still order them. I’m officially a crazy plant lady 🙂 I have around 400 containers in my courtyard. If all goes well, I’ll have seedlings to give away. Fingers crossed!
What’s in the container? Native plants of the North East that will feed many pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies (they eat lots of mosquitoes) and many others. These plants are gorgeous, NYC strong and they are very beneficial! Every little garden can make a life or death difference. Bumblebees are extinct in 8 states already and endangered in New York. The use of pesticides is the main cause of insect death at alarming rates. No insects = no birds. No birds = no spreading of keystone plants seeds. It’s all connected! What can we do? Buy organic, compost, plant natives, replace turf grass with other alternatives, add pollinator gardens, no harmful pesticides… think global, but act local!
Many of our street tree beds are now colorful with daffodils and crocus because hundreds of wonderful volunteers planted these bulbs last Fall, all over the city. Hopefully we’ll be adding more natives ephemerals this year (they are the first plants to bloom and they feed the bees).
We already hosted two community clean ups this year. So much litter!! But hopefully we are inspiring more neighbors to take action too. Here are some pictures and some shocking facts about the 4 trillions of cigarette butts that every year are contaminating our water and soil with thousands of harmful chemicals. Did you know they can be recycled? Terracycle is the only company doing this here, as far as I know, but I hope that our Sanitation Department will do something about it ASAP. Smokers can make a difference by using the ashtrays until we have a better solution. After all the hard work, we had lunch @bargoyana Yum!! Amazing Brazilian-Belgian food and drinks.
We are getting together this Saturday morning on our beautiful East River Esplanade. Join the fun? Access on 96th St (cross under the FDR underpass). Water fountain and restrooms at the Stanley Isaacs Playground on 1st ave & 96th St.
I hope to see you soon. Please share and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Gratefully, Simone Marques
Green and Blue Eco Care
Lieutenant Governor Benjamin Facing Federal Corruption Investigation
Various media sites are reporting that Harlem’s very own Lieutenant Governor Benjamin is facing a federal corruption investigation.
Last Friday, the DailyNews reported that Southern District of New York investigators had recently subpoenaed state officials and State Senate employees regarding grants Benjamin had lined up in his former Harlem district. Per the News, “The inquiry is related to funds doled out through the State and Municipal Facilities Program, or SAM, a lump sum appropriation in the state budget administered through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, according to the source.”
On Sunday, the Times reported that with regards to the campaign-finance issue, after Gerald Migdol was indicted late last year, SDNY prosecutors “subsequently issued several grand-jury subpoenas late last year seeking records from Mr. Benjamin’s campaign committee, some of its paid staffers and firms consulting for the campaign, according to three people with direct knowledge of those actions.”
The Times notes that it remains unclear if Migdol is cooperating with federal authorities, or whether or not Benjamin will face any charges.
A spokesperson for Benjamin insisted in a statement that “neither [Benjamin] nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing, and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities.”
Busses and Trains
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