Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Dead Cat On The Line


Dead cat on the line - Something suspicious or 'fishy' is going on...

Where's PETA? The Obama administration is massacring "proverbial" cats at a rate that can only be described as an abomination (Obamanation?). This administration will one day be looked upon with the same disdain currently reserved for the likes of William "Boss" Tweed and the corruption of Tammany Hall. In fact, Obama and his Chicago thugs are starting to make Tammany Hall look like the work of amateurs! The latest outrage from the "Corruptocrat in Chief" stems from the blatantly illegal firing of the AmeriCorps Inspector General. Yet another scandal is brewing that has the putrid odor of...a dead cat on the line.

AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin was dismissed last week from his position by President Obama who claimed he no longer had confidence in this Inspector General. Just what is it that caused the President to lose his confidence? Competence perchance? Gerald Walpin was guilty of doing his job well, perhaps too well, for his own good. He dared to question the eligibility of the largest and most expensive AmeriCorps program, and also questioned the "propriety" of a settlement made with a mayor, and friend of President Obama, over the misuse of AmeriCorps funds. Essentially, Walpin audited two taxpayer subsidized programs and found a considerable number of violations that included lapses in criminal background checks, misuse of funds and "pervasive problems of eligibility, timekeeping and documentation."

While investigating the Teaching Fellows Program, run by the research foundation of the City University Of New York (CUNY), Walpin's office discovered duplicative educational awards of over $16 million and and undocumented costs of $775,000. CUNY refused to return the excess funds and also refused to revise the procedures that led to their drawing of the excessive funds. CUNY also refused to provide documentation that would verify that its AmeriCorps participants even existed! As a result, Walpin reasonably advised AmeriCorps parent organization, The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to cut off any further funding and to re-examine all past government funding provided to CUNY. Since they have received $75 million in government grants, there is a potential cornucopia of fraud and abuse yet to be discovered.

The second program Walpin's office challenged was the non-profit St. HOPE academy, run by Obama friend and supporter Kevin Johnson. The former NBA star is now the Democrat mayor of Sacramento, California. In a report released in May 2009, Walpin's office exposed a settlement that the U.S. Attorney's Office arranged with Johnson and his deputy, Dana Gonzalez. This settlement reeks of the kind of political cronyism we have come to expect in the short time Obama has been in office. Johnson and Gonzalez exploited $900,000 in AmeriCorps funds for personal and political gain. Based on Walpin's findings, the CNCS suspended their access to federal funds when it was revealed they had six major violations which included:

1. Using AmeriCorps members to “recruit students for St. HOPE Academy.”

2. Using AmeriCorps members for political activities in connection with the “Sacramento Board of Education election.”

3. Assigning grant-funded AmeriCorps members to perform services “personally benefiting Johnson,” such as “driving him to personal appointments, washing his car, and running personal errands.

4. Improperly using AmeriCorps members to perform non-AmeriCorps clerical and other services that were outside the scope of the grant and therefore were impermissible for the benefit of St. HOPE.

However, in the aftermath of both Johnson's victory in the mayoral election and President Obama's election in November, the U.S. Attorney's Office rushed to arrange a settlement with the new mayor so that he would be able to qualify for even greater funds being made available in the Obama stimulus bill. In April of this year, the new acting U.S. Attorney, Lawrence Brown, settled the case, requiring St. HOPE Academy to pay $423,836.50, $72,836.50 of which would be paid personally by Mayor Johnson. Walpin complained that he had not been consulted on the settlement.

Walpin charged that AmeriCorps made a “180-degree turnaround” on the circumstances in the case “based on the change of circumstances of Respondent Johnson, who had, after directing St. HOPE’s misuse of the grant funds provided to it and receiving the suspension notice, become Mayor of Sacramento. The suspension was lifted because, as one Corporation official put it, the Corporation could not ‘stand in the way of Sacramento’ -- thereby effectively stating that, while Respondent Johnson was not sufficiently responsible to receive further Federal funds in his management position as a grantee, he suddenly became sufficiently responsible when elected Mayor of a city receiving substantially more federal funds…”

Walpin said this was “akin to deciding that, while one should not put a fox in a small chicken coop, it is fine to do so in a large chicken coop!”

Walpin charged that the settlement “sends the signal that acceptance of a grantee or its principal as 'responsible' can be purchased in a monetary settlement, overriding all evidence of wrongdoing previously found to warrant a suspension, without the presentation of any contradicting evidence."
-ABC News

According to the law, the President must give Congress 30 days’ notice and he must provide the reason before removing any Inspector General. The 30 day requirement is important because last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which was designed to strengthen protections for Inspector Generals, who are tasked with the responsibility of investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse within federal agencies. This law was passed to prevent interference by political appointees or the White House. In this Act is a requirement that the President give Congress 30 days' notice BEFORE dismissing an Inspector General. The firing of Inspector Walpin, in violation of this requirement, is particularly distressing because one of the co-sponsors of the Act was Senator Barack Obama. It is one of the few pieces of legislation to bear his name, and yet one in which he chose to willfully violate!

According to Republican Senator Charles Grassley, a strong advocate of inspectors general, Walpin received a call from the White House Counsel's office on Wednesday. Walpin was told that he had one hour to resign or be fired. Senate sources say Walpin asked why he was being fired and, according to one source, "the answer that was given was that it's just time to move on. The President would like to have someone else in that position." Walpin, displaying the kind of spine we have seen far to little of in resisting this administration's thuggery, declined to resign.

"I was troubled to learn that Wednesday night your staff reportedly issued an ultimatum to the AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin that he had one hour to resign or be terminated. As you know, Inspectors General were created by Congress as a means to combat waste, fraud, and abuse and to be independent watchdogs ensuring that federal agencies were held accountable for their actions. Inspectors General were designed to have a dual role reporting to both the President and Congress so that they would be free from undue political pressure. His independence is the hallmark of all Inspectors General and is essential so they may operate independently, without political pressure or interference from agencies attempting to keep their failings from public scrutiny." -Senator Charles Grassley, in a letter to President Obama

According to Grassley's version of events, the White House first tried to intimidate Walpin out of his job without having to go through the 30-day process. It was only when Walpin refused to resign that the White House notified Congress of the President's intention to fire Walpin. Why is the president doing this and why is he attempting to do it so quickly? It appears Obama is firing Walpin over his investigation of Kevin Johnson, a prominent supporter of the President. As we have seen with the selection process for closing Chrysler dealerships, not being a supporter of Obama will be swiftly punished. However, "right thinking" Obama supporters, it appears, will be just as quickly defended and rewarded.

For its part, the White House went on to confirm that it decided to fire Inspector General Walpin because of the Kevin Johnson/St. HOPE affair. In a letter sent Thursday night to Senator Grassley, White House counsel Gregory Craig cited a complaint lodged by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown, accusing Walpin of misconduct in the St. Hope investigation.

"The Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, a career prosecutor who was appointed to his post during the Bush Administration, has referred Mr. Walpin’s conduct for review by the Integrity Committee of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin’s conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that that the President’s decision was carefully considered." -Gregory Craig

In the referral which Craig mentioned, U.S. attorney Lawrence Brown accused Walpin of conducting a biased investigation and seeking "to act as the investigator, advocate, judge, jury and town crier." Brown was particularly angry that Walpin's office had talked with the press at various times in the St. HOPE investigation. Brown asked AmeriCorps to investigate Walpin's behavior.

In his response, Walpin wrote that several of Brown's points were flat-out wrong and he reveals the process by which St. HOPE will supposedly return about half of the $850,000 grant it received from AmeriCorps. Walpin accused the U.S. attorney's office of undermining his attempt at "suspension and debarment." That procedure would prevent the organization from receiving any further federal money.

According to Walpin, the U.S. attorney's office resisted efforts to get St. HOPE to repay the money. Even though AmeriCorps inspector general officials had found "six specific instances of diversion and misuse of AmeriCorps grant funds," and even though Kevin Johnson never "submitted a single fact to dispute those findings," the U.S. attorney, according to Walpin, insisted that the settlement agreement forbid suspension or debarment.

Further, according to Walpin, even with the settlement agreement as it now exists, there is little hope the government will ever get any of its money back. "As St. HOPE is insolvent, the absence of any obligation imposed on…[Kevin Johnson], and the absence of any guarantee or security to ensure payment, makes the settlement a farce," Walpin wrote. "Mr. Brown knows," Walpin concluded, "that the settlement agreement was carefully drafted so that no obligation is imposed on Mr. Johnson to pay to AmeriCorps a single penny of the amount supposedly to be paid to AmeriCorps by St. HOPE."
-Washington Examiner

That was just the first exchange of charges and counter-charges resulting from the White House's first public statement of its reason for firing Walpin. Unfortunately, President Obama's charisma was insufficient to satisfy many on Capitol Hill, including Democrats.

“The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The legislation which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for the removal.” - Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

In an attempt to further dig itself into a hole, the White House came up with still another reason for terminating the Inspector General:

"Mr. Walpin was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the board to question his capacity to serve." -White House letter

Yea, that clears things right up doesn't it? Somehow, despite the fact that this alleged behavior occurred at a board meeting, there doesn't appear to be a witness to corroborate this accusation. Further, the White House requested Inspector General Walpin to give a public presentation two days after the alleged episode of disorientation. Why would you ask a "confused" man to make a public speech? A speaking engagement he apparently made without any incident of "confusion" or "disorientation." The Obama administration apparently is willing to engage in the politics of personal destruction, complete with mudslinging and false allegations. It is, after all, the Chicago way. When pressed on the matter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs didn't back down:

"These were views that were held by many people as part of that board, and certainly the administration stands behind what's in the letter." -Robert Gibbs

It's really quite simple. The AmeriCorps Inspector General accuses a prominent Obama friend and supporter of misusing AmeriCorps grant money. No one has denied or contested these findings. The prominent Obama friend and supporter even agrees to pay back more than $400,000 of that grant money. Although, being insolvent, this almost certainly will not come to pass. The reward for offending Obama's supporters is a swift termination of the AmeriCorps Inspector General. And, lest we forget, all of the criminals involved here are still eligible to receive future federal dollars! Its good to be king isn't it Mr. President?


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dead Cat On The Line


There's a dead cat on the line. I was first acquainted with this old adage in the early 90's while living in Augusta, Georgia. Apparently it is an old expression referring to the likelihood that something, somewhere is wrong. Very wrong. I thought about this expression after Chrysler (soon followed by General Motors) announced they would be closing down many of their dealerships. Since these are "franchise" operations that do not represent significant, if any, expenses for the company, but instead represent streams of revenue, it seemed mighty strange that they would have a desire to close any of them. To the contrary, they should be encouraging as many of these businesses as possible to stay open since they represent the public face of the company during this economic downturn that has created such a malaise for the auto industry. Instead of putting the best face they can to the public, they have curiously chosen to do exactly the opposite and essentially lower their public profile. There certainly seems to be a dead cat on the line...and there is.

There are just too many things that don't make sense. It isn't just the unjustifiable business decision to cut operations that don't affect the costs of the company's business. It is also the process of selecting the dealerships to be closed. It is particularly suspicious that many of the dealerships selected for elimination are among the most successful operations within the Chrysler network. Many of them have been Chrysler and Dodge dealers for decades. What possible justification could they have for closing down successful dealerships that represent the very lifeblood of their company's existence? Not only are they choosing to reduce the flow of cash into their company, they are doing so in the midst of a recession that has been particularly disastrous to the auto industry. Is somebody missing a cat?

Some of the dealerships that got the axe are telling stories that raise considerable doubt that there were ever any economic reasons for this process and that there was, instead, a political motivation. One dealership slated for closing in Alvin, Texas, increased its new car sales 50% in the first four months of 2009! How can you rationalize closing a dealer who is increasing sales while in the throes of the worst recession since the 1970's? As it turns out, this story is not unique. Successful and highly profitable dealerships have all too often been the ones selected for elimination. Smell a dead cat?

As you dig into this you find that there is evidence to suggest that dealers selected for elimination tended to be ones who are affiliated with, or donated money to, the Republican party and its candidates. Coincidence? When the the list of 789 closing franchises is compared to the list of political donors making contributions in the November 2008 election, less than 10 percent gave to Democrats while 90 percent gave substantial sums to Republican candidates. The franchise owners selected for dealership elimination contributed over $450,000 to Republican presidential candidates and the GOP, while $7,970 was donated to Hillary Clinton's campaign and $2,200 was given to John Edwards' campaign. By comparison, Barack Obama received a mere $450 in donations! Dead cat found.

Some of the dealers on the hit list jump right out at you:

“Vern Buchanan is a Republican Congressman from the Tampa Bay area. Robert Archer is the son of former Republican Congressman Bill Archer. John Culberson, a libertarian-leaning Conservative, is now the Congressman for that West Houston District. He was heavily supported in his election efforts by the Archers Family. Additionally, James Crowley, owner of a Chrysler Dealership in Escondido, California is on the list to be closed. Crowley is a big backer of libertarian-leaning Republican Cong. John Campbell of Orange County.”

The list is heavy with influential Republicans and libertarians. Another name on the list is Ray Huffines, who owns a large dealership in the Metro-Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The Huffines family have been major contributors to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) over the years...
- American Thinker

Republican candidates – and Other GOP contributors include Michael Maroone, a dealer in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He gave $20,000 to the Florida Republican Party, $12,700 to the Republican National Committee and $2,300 to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Likewise, Menomonee Falls, Wis., dealer Russ Darrow and his family gave $19,000 to the Republican National Committee, $6,029 to the Wisconsin Republican Party, $2,300 to John McCain and $1,000 to Rudy Giuliani. Bedford, Texas, dealer Eric Grubbs gifted $11,500 to Mike Huckabee, $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani, $6,500 to Texas Republican Congressional Committee, $1,085 to the RNC and $500 to National Republican Congressional Committee. Midlothian, Va., dealer Max Pearson donated $18,000 to National Republican Senatorial Committee, $6,900 to the RNC, $6,900 to John McCain, $3,600 to Virginia Republican Party and $1,000 to National Republican Congressional Committee.

The list continues with more than 60 political donors who are scheduled to lose their franchises – many of whom gave thousands of dollars to only seven dealers who contributed a total of less than $12,000 to the Democratic Party and its candidates. -World Net Daily

Another blogger, Doug Ross, also reviewed patterns on the closure list and noticed the trend.

"I took all dealer owners whose names appeared more than once on the list," he wrote. "And, of those who contributed to political campaigns, every single one had donated almost exclusively to GOP candidates."

Jim Anderer, another of the disposed dealers, told Fox News' Neil Cavuto that he doesn't understand why Chrysler is shutting down his Long Island dealership because, he claims, it is quite profitable with sales volume ranking in the top 2 percent of the company.

"They won't tell us. They seem to be running for cover right now because they won't give us a solid explanation. They come up with all these reasons, but none of them seem to make sense. This is insanity. The government is stealing my business. And they're telling me there's nothing I can do about it."

Anderer also said Chrysler told him they want to combine their stores and that dealers cost the manufacturer money to stay in business.

"In the dealers that they cut, there seems to be no cohesive way that they did it. There was no process that you could put your finger on and say, 'Hey, we cut 25 percent of the lowest performing dealers.' They didn't do that. Nobody will give us a real clear explanation of the formula that they came up with."

George C. Joseph, a Dodge dealer for over 35 years who employs over 50 people in his Melbourne, Florida franchise claims his operation is financially profitable, yet he too was selected for closing. Likewise he is not happy about it:

"On Thursday, May 14, 2009 I was notified that my Dodge franchise, that we purchased, will be taken away from my family on June 9, 2009 without compensation and given to another dealer at no cost to them. My new vehicle inventory consists of 125 vehicles with a financed balance of 3 million dollars. This inventory becomes impossible to sell with no factory incentives beyond June 9, 2009."

He later went on to say that without his franchise, his facility can no longer perform any service warranty work. This even includes vehicles sold by his establishment while still a licensed franchise operator! This he says has the effect of rendering his $300,000 parts inventory worthless. Also, Chrysler is not required to buy back tools, parts or...vehicles from from the dealers it has terminated under these negotiated bankruptcy rules. The Obama administration, without any constitutional authority, has intervened and negotiated these terms in typical Chicago gangland fashion. The dealers have been made an offer they can't refuse.

"This is a private business, not a government entity. This is beyond imagination! My business is being stolen from me through no fault of our own. We did nothing wrong." - George C. Joseph

Chrysler was forced into bankruptcy by the Obama administration who took it upon themselves, with no legal authority, to manage the distribution of assets. He forced a deal that bypassed the bondholders, who actually invested money in the company, and gave a preferential deal to the United Auto Workers that made them the majority owners of the company. This, in and of itself, was nothing less than a political payoff to a union that generously supported him in the election. The decision making process that is closing down these dealerships appears to be a blatant political hit against the president's enemies. No democrat ever need raise the spectre of Richard Nixon and his enemies list ever again!

"It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers. It really wasn't Chrysler's decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President's automotive task force." - Leonard Bellavia, of Bellavia Gentile & Associates, who represents some of the terminated dealers

According to one of the discarded dealers Chrysler is already shopping for dealers to open franchises left by the eliminated dealers. Now why would you do that? This is just a political massacre designed to clear the landscape of political "undesirables" and replace them with dealers that meet with this administration's approval. We have seen this particular brand of socialism before in 1930's Germany. All of these actions are being done out in the open and all of them are totally illegal. Where is the media? Now we are starting to hear stories about how THEY are scared to offend this administration for fear of reprisals against them. Divine Justice, perhaps, but it does not bode well for our future.

"So we are acting as reluctant shareholders, because that is the only way to help GM succeed. What we are not doing, what I have no interest in doing, is running GM." -President Barack Obama

Hot on the heels of the great Chrysler swindle, our president has yet again authored a bankruptcy to his own political advantage. Unlike the Chrysler deal, this time he has chosen to give the United States government 60% ownership of the restructured GM. And why not? GM is a considerably more valuable asset than Chrysler so why not keep that one for himself. Like the Chrysler deal, the secured bondholders were illegally placed behind the government and the UAW in the division of assets and ownership. Of course GM has been ordered to close hundreds of dealerships as well. Does anyone believe the GM closings are any less politically motivated than the Chrysler ones? He claims he does not want to run GM even as he is doing exactly that. He's getting away with it too! What are we going to do about it?

This is a totally illegal nationalization of a private industry. However it sits well next to his ever growing collection of banks and insurance companies and is soon to be joined by the health care system and, perhaps, California. Is it any wonder such luminaries of leftist evangelical socialism are turning green with envy? Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday that he and Cuban ally Fidel Castro may soon find themselves to be more conservative than President Obama!

“Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right.” - Hugo Chavez

There's a dead cat on the line alright...