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Pink Slip Feb. ’14: Grimm, Biebs, Hollande – You’re Fired
Jon Stewart called it a “traditional Staten Island goodbye…it is considered their ‘ciao.’” In other words, when Staten Island Republican Congressman Michael Grimm told NY1 cable reporter Michael Scotto, “I will throw you off this fucking balcony,” it was like saying: “May the road rise up to meet you.” Or in this case, the floor of the Capitol rotunda after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. Grimm didn’t stop there, though. He also promised the reporter: “I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” This hothead Congressman, a former FBI undercover agent and ex-Marine, later admitted he’d lost his cool and apologized. But if the roles had been reversed and Scotto was threatening to harm the Representative, then he could have been charged with a federal crime, according to The New York Times. We think it’s time Grimm checked into a serious anger-management program and left Congress for good.
The Canadian clubber has turned thuggery into his trademark, and his act has just grown too tiresome for words. A few years ago—when the Bieber fever was raging—he caused a riot at Roosevelt Field when throngs of autograph-seekers ran amok while his handlers shrugged. Bieber later agreed to do an-anti bullying video as part of his management team’s criminal settlement with the Nassau DA. We wish Kathleen Rice had sentenced him to watch it 24-7 across the border from whence he came. And for added measure, someone should pelt him with raw eggs (like he allegedly did to a house in LA) because he sure has egg on his face from all his stupid, publicity-grabbing antics that have nothing to do with his musical talent—which may have already run dry, hence his pathetic cries for attention. This bare-chested pretty bad boy recently got busted in Miami for allegedly driving under the influence, resisting arrest and getting behind the wheel with an expired license—while drag-racing through a neighborhood. We can understand why he might want to drive himself. He’s facing charges in Toronto that he assaulted his limo driver. His posse has been steering him wrong while riding on the gravy train. Well, he’s headed for the last stop soon and few will miss him when he’s gone. And speaking of his “career,” why’s he trying to look like Miley Cyrus? All that matters is that we hope we never have to read about him again.
Somehow the hapless president of France has managed to make having a public affair—that most French of romantic activities, or so they say—BORING! Maybe if he was a leader on the other side of the English Channel, he’d look more exciting. But because it’s Francois Hollande, the Mr. Normal of Socialist party politics, he just doesn’t cut it as a dashing figure. It was laughable to see him wearing a big white crash helmet while riding his scooter to his rendezvous with his latest flame, actress Julie Gayet. He looked like a nerdy version of Daft Punk. (At least Michael Dukakis was riding a tank!) On the plus side, Hollande’s tabloid tryst did get a brief rise in the polls but then his popularity drooped even further. The publicity drove the so-called First Lady of France, Valerie Trierweiler, to check herself into the hospital for treatment of her “deep despair.” Hollande had once called her “the love of my life.” He made that proclamation after he had left the mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, for her. The French cut their faithless politicians a lot of slack for private acts of the heart, so to speak, if their public acts of policy-making produce positive results. But the French economy is a disaster and Hollande is pathetic. This lackluster mediocrity makes socialism seem so dull—and that’s inexcusable, mon dieu! France deserves better.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN
The “sick man of Europe” is desperately hoping that the European Union will overlook his government’s growing corruption scandals and hardening authoritarian rule to let Turkey have a seat at the table. The country certainly belongs there but Recep Tayyip Erdogan should take a long swim in the Bosporus and not come back any time soon. According to The New York Times, Turkey’s prime minister has purged hundreds of police officers and prosecutors as he tightens his grip over the country’s judiciary—all to derail an investigation into the dishonest dealings of his closest cronies. Three of Erdogan’s top ministers have resigned in disgrace. Independent journalists have been harassed and dozens have been arrested. Erdogan says he’s just the victim of a “foreign conspiracy.” Who does he think he is? The governor of New Jersey? Last year he cracked down on protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square that left them bloodied and beaten. Why? Because they wanted to preserve one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Turkey deserves better, too.
Last year Queens Library President Thomas Galante’s salary was more than the mayor of New York or the chairman of the MTA. What did Galante do to deserve his $391,594? He cut 253 jobs in five years while building himself “a personal smoking deck” out of teak wood, which the Daily News reported recently cost $27,000. All told, in this time of government cutbacks for public services, this guy has been treating himself as if he were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company! Somebody should throw the book at him. Here are some of his perks: a $37,000 car allowance so he can tool around in a Nissan 370Z sports car for his personal use and an executive office makeover that cost about $140,000 with new rugs, a private shower and redone bathroom, half a dozen new leather sofas and chairs, and a giant flat-screen television. Galante is no modest librarian. He thinks his salary and perks are only “average” compensation in the nonprofit corporate world he inhabits. He earned $12,000 more than the year before but he hasn’t given his staff another dime in their paychecks since 2008. Galante’s departure is long overdue.
RICARDO SCOFIDIO & LIZ DILLER
Elite architects Ricardo Scofidio and Liz Diller have decided that the American Folk Art Museum’s innovative former home on West 53rd Street in Manhattan must be bulldozed to make way for yet another expansion of the Museum of Modern Art, which is fast becoming the equivalent of a metropolitan mall. And to make matters worse, their self-serving plan will mean destroying a celebrated building designed by their former friends, Billie Tsien and Tod Williams. Critics say that Scofidio and Diller are perpetrating a “cultural atrocity,” akin to tearing down St. Patrick’s Cathedral or St. Thomas Church to make way for something new. We don’t claim to know much about architecture unless it involves Legos, but this demolition plan strikes us as unnecessary and arbitrary. This idea should never have left the drawing table. Shame on them.
GARY SOUTHERN, CLIFF FORREST, DENNIS FARRELL & CARL KENNEDY II
“Who are these guys, anyway?” That’s the question asked by Danny Jones, the current mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, who found out the hard way when the company these bad ole boys were all connected to, Freedom Industries, spilled a little-known chemical called MCHM (or 4-methylcyclohexane methanol) into the Elk River, the city’s only water supply, forcing some 300,000 people to turn off their taps. You could call this foursome home-grown terrorists, since the result of their reckless actions rippled through the community’s daily life like a disruptive attack. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, these storage tanks hadn’t been inspected in more than 20 years. So here’s a quick run-down of this despicable cast of characters who all benefited from the prevailing attitude there that any government regulation of the environment is bad for business. Carl Kennedy II, who founded the industrial chemical storage company along the banks of the river in 1992, had been convicted of conspiring to sell cocaine in 1987 and more recently he was found guilty of “siphoning payroll tax withholdings to splurge on sports cars, a private plane, and real estate in the Bahamas,” according to Businessweek. Dennis Farrell, his college buddy, ran Freedom Industries after Kennedy went to prison in 2006. Gary Southern, who lives in Florida, became the president of the West Virginia company full-time in 2013 after advising it for several years. The public face of the company, he neglected to mention that right after thousands of gallons of coal-processing compounds had polluted the city’s vulnerable water supply, Freedom had been bought by Cliff Forrest, who heads Rosebud Mining, reportedly the third-largest coal producer in Pennsylvania and the 21st largest in the country. Forrest’s claim to fame is that he’s been an outspoken opponent of what he denounces as President Obama’s “war on coal.” What about his company’s war on fresh water?
Devyani Khobragade became a cause célèbre in India—and a huge diplomatic headache in the United States—after she was arrested in New York and strip-searched. Okay, that was a little excessive. She’d been busted on charges of visa fraud and making false statements in connection to her alleged exploitation of her housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard, who had told U.S. prosecutors that Khobragade, a deputy at India’s consulate in Manhattan, had forced her to work 94 to 109 hours a week, according to The New York Times. The unhappy servant wanted to return to India but she said Khobragade kept her passport and that’s why she made a federal case out of it. The 39-year-old diplomat was expelled from the United States after she was granted immunity. When she arrived in New Delhi, she was greeted like a Bollywood movie star. But what about her servant who was paid $1.42 an hour or less despite being promised $9.75 an hour on her work visa application that Khogragade had filled in? Bupkis. Or as they say in Hindi, abhaav. And more’s the pity.
She may not be a household name in the States but a lot of people here may have had a bottle of Singha beer with their Thai food. Chitpas Bhirombhakdi is the 28-year-old Singha beer heiress whose words have set off a backlash and a boycott in Thailand. She’s been one of the leaders of antigovernment demonstrators trying to scuttle parliamentary elections. She put her foot in her mouth, so to speak, when she said that many Thais, “especially in the rural areas,” don’t have a “true understanding” of democracy. Unlike her, of course. As The New York Times has reported, the “protests are being led by opposition politicians who represent the urban elite and people from the south of the country” who “refused to participate in the election knowing that they would surely lose to the Pheu Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluk Shinawatra, which enjoys the support of the rural majority in the north and northeast.” We’d drink to that—if we weren’t pouring Singha beer on our feet, a sign of disrespect in Thailand. Chitpas should put a cork in her protests and accept majority rule. Democracy isn’t perfect but it’s the best system we’ve got.
It’s not that Democrats elected to office don’t say and do offensive things—that’s a given—it’s just that hardly a day goes by without a male member of the Grand Old Party saying something that half the population will find offensive. So when we learned that New Mexico’s Rep. Steve Pearce said that a wife is supposed to “voluntarily submit” to her husband, we couldn’t resist giving him a Pink Slip. As reported by the Washington Post, Pearce wrote in his recently published memoir, called “Just Fly the Plane, Stupid!,” that “the wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice.” He apparently cited the Bible. He also warned husbands from taking advantage of their wives’ willingness. “The wife’s submission is not a matter of superior versus inferior; rather it is self-imposed as a matter of obedience to the Lord and of love for her husband,” he wrote. Pearce parlayed his ownership of an oil-field service company to get him to Congress. Perhaps he should have written about bonding with petrochemicals instead of dispensing marriage advice.
JOE RICKEY HUNDLEY
Last February Joe Rickey Hundley was flying on a Delta flight to Atlanta when his patience was sorely tested by a crying toddler. Everybody who’s ever been on board a crowded plane can sympathize with his frustration. But then Hundley, an aerospace company executive from Idaho, stepped over the line. The infant was seated on his mother’s lap in the seat next to him. Hundley yelled at her, “Shut that n—-r baby up!” and slapped the toddler hard enough to cut his cheek. A federal judge has just sentenced him to eight months in federal prison. The 61-year-old silver-haired racist had pleaded guilty in October, reportedly hoping to get a six-month sentence for striking the 19-month-old but the federal judge decided wisely to put him away longer because Hundley had a previous criminal history including an assault. Granted, the businessman was having a hard time that February day because he was flying to Atlanta so he and his ex-wife could disconnect their only son from life support after he’d fallen into a coma. But that’s no excuse for his behavior, and if anything, this disconsolate father should have shown more compassion to a mother and child under stress. So justice has been served. We want to add a Pink Slip to his punishment so he’ll have more to think about while he’s behind bars trying to rehabilitate himself.