Thursday, July 16, 2009

Linares Redux?

Well, well, right on the heels of Michael Jackson's demise-with all of the replaying of the great " "Thriller" video-comes the news that our old nemesis Guillermo Linaris is being resurrected from his political graveyard. Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat captures the ghoulishness of the disinterment: "Peace treaty or no, the assemblyman couldn't help himself from taking a few backhanded swipes and his old foe. "To recycle and go back is not the thing to do," Espaillat said during a telephone interview this afternoon...." Espaillat continued. "He served with distinction. I just think this is step backward for him. You left; you should continue to move forward instead of going backward."

And being Miguel Marinez's replacement part isn't a step forward in our view-and does the substitution choice count as an endorsement from the soon to be disgraced pol? But it gets worse when we read that Linaris himself isn't returning to elective politics with clean hands. As the NY Daily News reports: "The handpicked successor to disgraced City Councilman Miguel Martinez has ties to another scandal, the Daily News has learned. As Martinez prepares to plead guilty to corruption charges today, former Councilman Guillermo Linares plans to run for his Washington Heights seat with his blessing. Linares quit his job Wednesday as a top aide to Mayor Bloomberg to run. Earlier this year, a nonprofit group Linares organized to help immigrants, the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans, was found to have given a no-show job to a crony of Bronx state Sen. Efrain Gonzalez, records show."

And who was the director of the tarnished group? None other than Linares' own daughter: "The crony, Miguel Castanos, was on the payroll from 2004 through April 2006. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges this past April; Gonzalez followed suit in May. During the time Castanos was on the payroll, Linares' daughter Mayra was on the group's board of directors, 2005 tax forms show. She has since become the board's chairwoman. An employee of the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans said Wednesday the group had no comment."

When you have nothing good to say...well, you get what we're pointing out. But our real problem lies with Linares' history of betrayal. Back in 1995, Linares lead the opposition on behalf of dozens of Dominican-owned supermarkets to a tax subsidized Pathmark in East Harlem. Juan Gonzales captured this betrayal at the time: "In the middle of a sleepless night early Thursday morning, Guillermo Linares, the city councilman from Washington Heights, made the toughest decision of his life to become a politician. A few hours later, he walked into a meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board and shocked his closest supporters, the Dominican business community, by switching sides and casting the deciding vote for a $12 million Pathmark supermarket in East Harlem."

Benedicto Arnold: "Linares says he got concessions from Pathmark, including a fund of $150,000 over four years to assist East Harlem small businessmen. This made it worthwhile for him to switch sides. Killing it might have sparked boycotts against Dominican stores on the scale of the anti-Korean protests a few years back. To prevent further division, Linares claimed, he made a last-minute switch. To some, he is a hero. To others, he is just another lying politician."

The vote, of course, wasn't the main issue-it was the complete lack of honesty on the part of the first Dominican elected official in the United States; and the selling out of his own folks after pledging loyalty to small business owners who had revived the economies of East and Central Harlem. His return-under a cloud, no less-is no service to the good people of Washington Heights.