We have commented on the yeoman-like effort of Claire Shulman, our Queens politician emeritus, to clean up polluted areas in and around Willets Point and Flushing. But given today's NY Daily News story on the sticky-fingered activities of an entire cohort of Queens pols, perhaps Claire's environmental efforts need to be redirected: "A federal grand jury is zeroing in on some of Queens' most powerful political figures - including Senate President Malcolm Smith - the Daily News has learned. Sources said the feds are investigating whether the Queens pols used a web of nonprofit groups to benefit themselves, their families and their friends."
Now we have been rather vigilant at decrying the kleptocratic behavior of Meeks and Flake-but now even Helen Marshall is being included in the political cesspool: "The raft of documents the Manhattan-based panel wants involve:
- The Merrick Academy charter school - a source of campaign funds and patronage for Smith.
- A lavish home built for Rep. Gregory Meeks in Jamaica.
- A four-family house owned by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall."
With so many of the borough's politicians being carted off to jail already, Queens elected office might soon be designated as a half house for offenders-and the entire Flake empire could also fall like the proverbial house of cards: "One subpoena revealed for the first time that prosecutors are looking at the housing and social service empire built by the Rev. Floyd Flake - Meeks' predecessor in Congress and political mentor to Smith and Meeks."
With state and local governments on the balls of their ass, the actions (proven as well as alleged)of pols feathering their nest at the tax payers' expense becomes more than simply a symbolic issue-real money is being siphoned off for personal gain while, at the same time, these very same leaders are making life miserable for the tax paying citizens who are forced to support their arrogant and lavish life styles.
So, while we believe that the entire political edifice needs an overhaul, it is going to take a Herculean effort to clean these Augean Stables. Still, the current grand jury investigation is certainly a good start-and it could mean that Queens will finally get the environmental cleanup it really needs.