Pink Slip Dec. ’13: Duncan, Cheney, Martinez – You’re Fired

Monica Martinez

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Liz Cheney

Sometimes sisterhood is a real bitch. Take Mary Cheney’s sister Liz, who spoke out against gay marriage in her misguided effort to run for Senator in Wyoming—even though she’s really from Virginia, making her a carpetbagger with an expensive handbag. It so happens that Mary is married to Heather Poe, and this lesbian couple has two children, making Liz their obnoxious aunt. Oh, did we mention that the sisters’ father is Dick Cheney, that heartless bastard who should be on trial at The Hague for his war crimes? Point taken. In this case, Liz dissed her gay sister to score points with the tea party extremists, putting politics ahead of her family. By challenging Mike Enzi, the conservative incumbent who had the blessing of Wyoming’s popular former Senator, Alan Simpson, she also violated Ronald Reagan’s so-called 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” And, last but not least, as Mary retorted in a Facebook rebuke, Liz is “on the wrong side of history.”

Viktor Yanukovych

Who are we to tell the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, how to run his country? But keeping the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, in prison and preventing her from traveling to Germany for much-needed medical treatment when her back is killing her is the last straw. First, Tymoshenko probably shouldn’t be behind bars to begin with—certainly her legal defenders don’t think she should be there. But this embattled politician has become a pawn between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and the leaders of the European Union, who would welcome this former Soviet republic into the club. The treatment of Tymoshenko smacks of Stalin-style repression; even her lawyer was recently arrested on dubious charges. The EU has reportedly made it clear that it believes the campaign against her has been politically motivated. Ukraine deserves better than Putin’s all too subservient butt-boy, Yanukovych.

Charles E. Grassley

The Senate filibuster rule has its value but not when it’s used as a blunt instrument by right-wing hypocrites determined to knock down any of President Barack Obama’s nominees just because they can. For the record, examine how often the filibuster has been deployed during his administration compared to previous presidents: 82 filibusters under Obama, 86 filibusters under all other presidents. And these days the obstructionist senators didn’t even have to do their own “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” impression and stand up for hours on the Senate floor like James Stewart did in that Frank Capra classic. This crowd could “phone it in,” so to speak. The Senate Democrats finally had enough and invoked the “nuclear option,” as it was dubbed, changing the Senate rules on cloture so only a simple majority—not 60 votes—would be enough to overcome the Republican blockade on Obama’s appointments, retaining the higher threshold for only the Supreme Court picks. To hear the Republican Senators rail on about this Democratic move to break up the logjam is very revealing. Sen. Grassley, the Iowa Republican, dared the Democrats to do it: “Go ahead. There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases that we’d love to put on the bench.” He summed up their way of thinking best, and that’s why he gets the coveted—and dreaded—Pink Slip for fighting filibuster reform. If his GOP cohort ever gets 51 votes in the Senate, they would pack the courts with clones of the two worst Justices our country has had since the Civil War: Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. That would be injustice personified.

Monica Martinez

Monica Martinez is certainly one very talented woman but is she twice as talented as other Suffolk politicians? It sounds like Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone thinks so, because he wants to enact an exception to the rule preventing county elected officials from double-dipping at the public trough. Martinez is currently an assistant principal in Brentwood, earning $117,000 a year, but she just got elected to replace Bellone’s nemesis, Legis. Rick Montano, and earn $98,260 for representing the 9th District. It helped her cause that her brother is Tony Martinez, a Babylon Town Board member and a buddy of Bellone, who steered a hefty chunk of campaign cash her way. But the law is the law, stating with clarity, that “public confidence in government suffers when officials collect two public salaries simultaneously.” Say what you will about those who serve in the Legislature, but they all know that doing it right is a full-time job. Unless Martinez has a twin—or a clone—she should quit one of her high-paying positions. If she doesn’t, then a Pink Slip will push her out the door.

John M. Walker, Jr., José A. Cabranes & Barrington D. Parker, Jr.

These three men comprise the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel that arbitrarily removed U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin from the “stop and frisk” federal case. It put her finding that the New York Police Department unconstitutionally targeted minorities for street stops on hold until a city appeal is heard in March. They concluded that the district judge “ran afoul” of the Code of Conduct and that “the appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation was compromised.” They disparaged this distinguished jurist for prejudicially maneuvering to get the case and giving news interviews about it. But these guys were the ones with bias. So, she fought back against what legal affairs expert for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin, called “the old-boy network at the Second Circuit.” Good for her. The New York Times weighed in editorially on the panel’s “ill-advised decision of removing Judge Scheindlin and holding up remedies that would protect the constitutional rights of the city’s residents,” and said the panel’s removal “did not go to the substance” of her rulings. The panel had acted “without justification and without giving her the opportunity to defend herself,” thereby it raised “questions about its own motives.” Our ruling is simple: we slap this panel with three Pink Slips.

Arne Duncan & John B. King

Standardized tests are great for teaching kids how to take standardized tests—and helping the standardized test makers make a profit in return. But, in the immortal words of that great education president, George W. Bush, “Is our children learning?” That’s become a question for President Obama’s rather testy Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who unleashed the Common Core curriculum on America’s public schools, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s elitist New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King, who is obstinately ramming this Soviet-style program from the top down—and turning classrooms into hellholes to achieve production goals that have distressingly little to do with broadening the mind or instilling life-long curiosity. We want America’s children to compete globally by learning how to think critically. We want them to be fully informed citizens capable of discerning truth from bullshit. But instituting a rigid curriculum intended to fail almost a third of the kids before they even pick up a pencil is the height of cruelty. Denying teachers and schools the adequate training and resources to do a better job educating is unconscionable. Duncan was the CEO of Chicago’s historically underfunded public schools. What did he do with his power but screw over the teachers unions and push market-driven policies that rely on tough testing, not good teaching? These button-downed bureaucrats don’t make the grade.

Ted Branch & Bruce Loveless

Vice Admiral Ted Branch is director of naval intelligence and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless is director of intelligence operations. Early last month the Navy put these two supposedly admirable fellows on temporary leave, following the suspension of their access to classified material, because they’re connected to the largest bribery scandal to rock the Navy in decades. It involves high-class hookers and luxury travel, among other “enticements.” The lynch pin to this scheme is a 6-foot-3, 350-pound Malaysian businessman, Leonard Glenn Francis, nicknamed Fat Leonard, who hosted lavish dinners and dispensed boxes of Cuban cigars. These two admirals reportedly had the kind of loose lips that could sink ships, getting way too palsy-walsy with the corrupting contractor, who wound up with hundreds of millions of our hard-earned tax-dollars the sleazy way. By the looks of things, this pair lacked the intelligence to know better. They should have seen this schemer coming from a nautical mile away, steered clear of him and given Fat Leonard a wide berth. We count on our Navy to defend us from our enemies—even if they’re just 350-pound greedy bastards.

Cornelius Gurlitt

All Cornelius Gurlitt ever wanted to do was “live with my pictures,” he told the German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel. But the 80-year-old’s art collection included 1,280 masterworks by the likes of Picasso, Chagall, Gauguin and Matisse that had been either stolen by the Nazis from German Jews outright or ripped off from Jews fleeing the country who were anxious to sell their paintings and drawings at any price to escape the Third Reich. Gurlitt’s stash has been estimated to be worth as much as $1.4 billion. The good news is that many art experts had assumed these works had just been incinerated when the Allies firebombed Dresden. But Gurlitt had no right to own them himself. His father Hildebrand Gurlitt was a prominent Nazi-era art dealer with ties to Der Fuhrer and was allowed to handle “the degenerate” art Hitler’s cronies didn’t want. From childhood on, Cornelius had locked himself up with the collection, keeping these wonderful images away from the world until German officials practically stumbled across them recently. Eccentricity is not an offense—and Cornelius has certainly been accused of that since his trove came to light—but here’s the crime: he hoarded these priceless works of art when he should have revealed them for art lovers everywhere to enjoy.

Craig Rizzo

The abrupt resignation of Arthur Gianelli, the chief executive officer of the Nassau Health Care Corp., was sickening. By every measure his seven-year tenure at the helm of the public benefit corporation that runs Nassau University Medical Center, A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility and five clinics that serve the poor was a success despite very harrowing obstacles—in no small part due to the stinginess of Nassau County in funding this front-line hospital facility that serves the poorest and the neediest in one of the nation’s richest counties. So what if Gianelli was appointed in 2006 by then-County Executive Tom Suozzi, a Democrat? Clearly, County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, did not have to force him out days after he’d won re-election for his second term. Why didn’t he can Gianelli when he won his first? This Nassau nausea could be contagious. If you’re not part of the cure, then you’re part of the disease. Craig Rizzo, the chairman of the NuHealth board of directors, should certainly have done more to defend his innovative CEO than issue a lame email after 90 doctors on the NUMC medical staff asked the board to meet with them about keeping Gianelli. If anyone should be Pink Slipped for dispensing a dose of bad medicine to the body politic, our recommendation is that Rizzo should be gone in the morning because he seems to be another symptom of what’s been ailing this county.

Trey Radel

This Republican Congressman from Florida got busted with coke possession and pleaded guilty in Washington, D.C., where he was charged with a misdemeanor and given a year of probation. He was lucky because if he’d gotten popped in Florida he could have faced a much stiffer sentence. In fact, Radel himself, who is taking a leave of absence to deal with his personal addiction, has supported conservative measures in the past that required applicants for food stamps, unemployment or welfare to pass a drug test. That’s right, this high-as-a-kite hypocrite voted to make sure that anybody using food stamps was cleaner than he’d ever be—until he got busted in the nation’s capital.