Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016



Freedom Appoints New Publisher for OC Register


Freedom Communications Holdings Inc. in Santa Ana named Richard Mirman interim publisher and chief executive of the Orange County Register, the Press-Enterprise and its other community newspapers, magazines and websites, the company reported Monday.

Mirman will replace Aaron Kushner, who remains Freedom’s chief executive and co-owner and “will focus his energy on Freedom’s broader expansion, and the development of new business opportunities and partnerships,” according to the company.

Mirman, Freedom investor and member of its board of directors since December, previously served as senior vice president of business development and chief marketing officer at Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas.

“My goal is to get the business on a trajectory of growth,” he said in an interview with the OC Register. The publication also said “newsroom, advertising, marketing and circulation executives will report to Mirman,” while “Kushner will oversee the opinions department for both newspapers.”

Mirman’s appointment comes about a week after Freedom switched its newspaper delivery service from the Los Angeles Times to a new vendor. The change resulted in missed newspaper deliveries, and $3.5 million claim from the Times for what it said is an unpaid paper distribution bill.

“Rich’s expertise fits perfectly with our strategic focus on our subscribers and on delivering a quality product for advertisers and our community,” Kushner said in a statement. “While we have covered a lot of ground already, we have significant challenges ahead of us including getting our home delivery system to the level of service our subscribers expect.”

Aaron Kushner Steps Down as OC Register Publisher in Favor of a...CASINO GUY?!


In a stunning admission of failure, Aaron Kushner has stepped down as publisher of theOrange County Register effective immediately. In a not-stunning admission of cluelessness, Kushner has stepped aside in favor of one of his investors, whose only experience as a newspaper guy is in working at a casino--which is to say, Richard Mirman has no newspaper experience whatsoever.

Okay, let out your mixed gambling metaphors here--Kushner doesn't know when to hold or fold them, rolled snake eyes; he's a flea, a chalk eater, a dumb double-downer--and let's get on with the post.

Why Kushner stepped down remains a mystery, as the man never admits defeat and never admits any fault. All he'd say to his own paper right now is "We have accomplished a great deal in our first two years owning the Orange County Register, and I am confident Rich will help lead the Register to the next level of growth and profitability." Hmm...

Mirman is apparently some sort of math whiz who helped Harrah's Casino back in the days, according to a report by Kushner's new stentorian, Lily Leung (Hey, Lille: The last gal who had the job got axed this year. Just sayin'...). Mirman came to the Reg by becoming an investor this year, which already begs the question of his intellect and sanity.

At this point, one can only guess that Mirman came into Kushner's galaxy by way of his editor, Rob Curley, whose previous job was at the Las Vegas Sun. Google doesn't tell me anything right now but I'm sure my sources will...and then there's something called research that I hear can be fruitful. Anyhoo, details to come...


Grimes won't say if she voted for Obama


U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes refused to say Thursday if she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012 but noted that she was a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2008 Democratic Convention.

Her refusal to say she voted for Obama, who is terribly unpopular in the state, comes as she continues to try to distance herself from him and his policies — and as Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell tries to tie her to the president.

"I respect the sanctity of the ballot box," Grimes said at an interview with The Courier-Journal's editorial board, as she continued to dodge the question of whether she voted for Obama, for whom she was a delegate at the 2012 Democratic Convention.

Grimes' comments in general were her most expansive since she joined the race in July 2013.

During the hourlong meeting, Grimes criticized McConnell for his stance on a number of issues from campaign finance reform to the environment to the sequester cuts that he negotiated, which she called "mindless and arbitrary."

She noted that McConnell has recently dodged questions about whether he believes climate change is a real phenomena by saying that he's not a scientist.

"You don't have to be a scientist to have an opinion," Grimes said.

She said she does believe that man's actions now are impacting the planet but she said that the country needs to take a "balanced approach" in dealing with the issue so that it doesn't harm Kentucky coal miners as she believe's the Environmental Protection Agency is currently doing.

She accused McConnell of putting government up for sale with opposition to campaign finance reform laws and his support of a lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court used to strike down provisions that banned corporations from spending unlimited resources to advocate for or against a candidate.

Grimes also criticized his ads, which she said have distorted her record. "There is no low that is too low," she said of McConnell's ads.

Independent fact-checkers have also ruled a significant number of her ads ruled untrue.

One area where she refused to criticize Obama was on the Affordable Care Act, the president's signature legislative accomplishement. She praised Gov. Steve Beshear and his efforts to put into place Kynect, Kentucky's version of Obamacare, and said only that healthcare law must be improved.

"It's not perfect by any means, but no law ever is," she...

Obama tar baby captures Alison Lundergan Grimes


Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell may be one of the most unpopular politicians in the state, but he is probably going to win another term thanks to President Obama. The president is so unpopular - and McConnell has been so effective at tying his opponent to Obama's apron strings - that McConnell's challenger, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, won't say whether or not she voted for President Obama.

Twice, she declined to answer.

“This election isn’t about the president. It’s about putting making sure we put Kentuckians back to work,” the Kentucky secretary of State said, when asked twice whether she voted for Obama.

“Did you vote for him?” the board member asked a third time.

“I was actually, in [2008], a delegate for Hillary Clinton. And I think that Kentuckians know I’m a Clinton Democrat through and through. I respect the sanctity of the ballot box and I know that the members of this editorial board do, as well.”

“So, you’re not going to answer?” the board member asked.

“Again, I don’t think that the president is on the ballot — as much as [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell might want him to be. It’s my name, and it’s going to be me who’s holding him accountable for the failed decisions and votes that he’s made against the people of Kentucky.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader has also reported that Grimes last week declined to answer a reporter’s three questions about whether she voted for Obama.

The incumbent McConnell immediately seized on the clip, noting that she was a delegate at the Democratic National Conventions in 2008 and 2012 and that she attended an inaugural ball for the president in Kentucky in 2013.

Grimes has taken strides to label herself as a “Clinton Democrat” and distance herself from the president, who has low approval ratings in the state. Recent polls have shown Obama’s approval rating sits at around 30 percent in the state, and Grimes has criticized Obama over his policies on the EPA and coal, guns and the economy. McConnell, like other Republicans running in red states this election cycle, has tried to link the Democratic to the White House throughout the campaign.

Br'er Rabbit would no doubt have some advice for Grimes, although I don't think a briar patch is handy. Try as she might, the more she attempts to distance herself from...


De Blasio Stands Behind Aide Who Omitted Boyfriend on Background Check Form


Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said he had “absolute faith” in a top City Hall aide whose failure to disclose a troubled boyfriend on a background check prompted a formal city inquiry last week.

Eager to move past a controversy that has rattled his administration, the mayor said that “there was no intent to deceive” on the part of the aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, who is the chief of staff to Mr. de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray.

“Case closed,” Mr. de Blasio added, in his first remarks on the matter since his office announced last week that Ms. Noerdlinger would not be disciplined for the infraction.

The mayor and his aides have answered few questions about Ms. Noerdlinger, who was found to have omitted the fact that she lived with a boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, who has a serious criminal history, on a background questionnaire form this year. False or misleading statements on the form can result in termination.

Asked repeatedly about the episode on Monday at a news conference on Staten Island, Mr. de Blasio assailed what he described as a political discourse overly focused on the family members and personal lives of civil servants.

“This notion of ‘Let’s talk about people’s boyfriends, let’s talk about their children,’ it’s just going too far,” Mr. de Blasio said.

He added of Ms. Noerdlinger: “She is a good public servant, and that’s what I respect.”

Mr. de Blasio is not shy about blending the personal with the political: He made his biracial family a centerpiece of campaign advertisements in last year’s mayoral race, and he often describes his wife as his “most important adviser.”

It was the mayor’s eagerness to give Ms. McCray a prominent role in his administration that prompted the hiring of Ms. Noerdlinger, a longtime public relations adviser to the Rev. Al Sharpton. She earns $170,000 and is charged with expanding Ms. McCray’s profile.

Ms. Noerdlinger, who lives in Edgewater, N.J., was also one of a handful of administration officials to be granted an exemption from a requirement that senior City Hall aides reside in New York City.

In granting the waiver, the administration cited the “mental and physical condition” of Ms. Noerdlinger’s teenage son, who was seriously injured in two automobile accidents. TheNew York Post reported last week that her son had played on his...

Mayor de Blasio OKs lying


Did anyone really expect Rachel Noerdlinger, chief of staff to New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, to face any consequences for failing to include her cop-hating, ex-con boyfriend on her background disclosure forms as required?

The boyfriend’s name is Hassaun McFarlan. His resumé includes a conviction for manslaughter, time served for drug trafficking and an arrest just last year for nearly hitting a New Jersey police officer while driving Noerdlinger’s car.

Yet on Monday her boss, Mayor de Blasio, pronounced “case closed.” Then again, the Department of Investigation that handled the probe into Noerdlinger — former top aide to the Rev. Al Sharpton — is conveniently headed by the mayor’s former campaign treasurer, Mark Peters.

Anyone surprised the “investigation” found “no intent to deceive”?

But why did Noerdlinger not disclose her relationship on these forms? After all, the forms specifically warn that omitting information may result in “termination of employment” and even criminal prosecution.

The issue isn’t her boyfriend but her lying about it on official forms.

Indeed, the problems that ended up sending former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to the pokey began when he left out info on his city disclosure forms about renovations to his apartment done by a contractor who wanted work with the city. Lying on these forms is a serious issue.

Even so, Noerdlinger never made even a pro forma offer of resignation after publicly embarrassing the mayor. At Bill de Blasio’s City Hall, folks count on the “two New Yorks”: one standard for the mayor’s special insiders and one for everybody else.


Queens assemblyman charged with 23 felonies in travel expense probe


A Queens assemblyman, whose offices were raided by law enforcement in March, was arrested and charged with 23 felonies Wednesday, law enforcement officials said.

Assemb. William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) was arraigned Wednesday in Albany on two felony counts of grand larceny and 21 felony counts of filing a false instrument.

 An indictment filed with the court says the grand larceny charges allege that Scarborough stole money from his own campaign account and spent it on personal expenses, which is illegal. The false instrument charges deal with Scarborough's campaign-finance statements filed with the state Board of Elections.

State officials have slated a 2 p.m. news conference in Manhattan to discuss the case.

In March, FBI officials raided Scarborough's offices amid the state legislative session.

Scarborough  who has held office for 20 years, said at that time agents questioned him for an hour, alleging he "abused the voucher system" for collecting per diem and travel reimbursements for work in Albany when he may have also been in his Queens district. The investigation is the latest in a series of corruption and sexual-harassment scandals in the State Legislature.

Scarborough told reporters shortly after the raid: "We had an interview. They presented this information. They wanted me to take responsibility for the allegations. They wanted to know if I wanted to enter into some sort of arrangement where I could give them information about any irregularities that I knew of."

He later added: I don't believe I have misrepresented the Assembly and I believe I have acted in accordance with the law. I'm innocent."

AG investigators arrest Assemblyman Scarborough


State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) was arrested Wednesday morning by investigators from the office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

According to report from Associated Press, Scarborough was charged with using campaign money for personal expenses.

AP reported the assemblyman pleaded not guilty in Albany County Court to a 23-count indictment.

The attorney general and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli were expected to discuss the case at a news conference in Manhattan Wednesday afternoon.

The southeast Queens politician, first elected to office in 1994, was taken into custody Wednesday.

In March, federal agents raided his home and offices.

“They only gave me a very small sample of what they thought represented this, and based on that small sample I think it’s very refutable,” he said at the time after the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at his home and offices in the capitol and southeast Queens.

Scarborough’s arrest is the latest in a series of corruption cases involving legislators in Albany and in southeast Queens.

Last year state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) was arrested on bribery charges. He faces a federal retrial in January for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican line in the 2013 mayoral race.

Also in 2013, former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who represented Jamaica, was sentenced to 366 days in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud in an effort to cover up a scheme she used to pocket more than $87,000 from taxpayers.