Stanley Friedman and Donald Manes, the twin towers of insider trading during the Koch years, are now the twin targets of the probes that have marred the mayor’s reign. The two Democratic county leaders emerged as heavyweights in the political life of the city while Abe Beame was mayor — Friedman was Beame’s “Deputy Mayor for Politics,” as Ed Koch put it in Mayor, and Manes, already Queens borough president, became party leader in 1975 when Beame pushed the county’s district leaders to pick him. But the two men did not rise to the highest levels of city influence until Koch, who’d campaigned against Beame’s clubhouse rule in 1977, made them his friends. These partners in public plunder discovered that all they had to do to make the mayor their chump was put him on their palm-cards. No matter what he was running for — governor, or mayor forever.
Manes and Friedman own homes in the Hamptons that are just a few minutes apart, enabling them to plan the pillage of the city in seaside comfort. Friedman’s long-time secretary at Saxe, Bacon & Bolan, Rose Mintzer, is a Democratic state committeewoman from Manes’s home assembly district in Queens, where he is still the Democratic district leader. During the Beame years, Manes delivered key Board of Estimate votes for patronage contracts wired by Friedman, while Friedman steered plums for Manes’s friends through city agencies. But these workouts were just preparations for the day when they went after $22 million computer contracts and switched bagmen wound up with the best goody Manes’s PVB store had to offer. And he may have been the only Manes customer who didn’t have to pay for a prize. Now they and their closest associates are in a prosecutorial steam bath.
Manes has watched both his state supreme court judge, William Brennan, and his fat-farm sidekick, Geoff Lindenauer, get nailed in recent weeks. Richard Rubin, the law secretary of the Queens party, has yet to explain why lawyers who received surrogate patronage write him checks. Developer Mike Lazar, who lived at Manes’s side and has never cut a truly private real estate deal, is suddenly as invisible as his mentor. And Manes responded to the heat with two pre-emptive strikes on himself — savaging his own wrist and surrendering his public posts.
Friedman has already lost the contract he’d won for Citisource, his phantom computer company, and is expecting a double hit from Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau and U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani. Friedman’s two closest aides, Paul Victor and Murray LeWinter, are sweating through a federal investigation of a printing firm they set up in Yonkers that did no printing but got a quarter of a million dollars in payments from campaigns that Friedman ran for Bronx Borough President Stanley Simon and four judges. Friedman’s black right hand, State Senator Joe Galiber, has already been indicted, and his Latin strong man, Ramon Velez, is facing various probes. Ted Teah, the City Planning Commissioner who shares a Manhattan law office with Friedman, and Frank Lugovina, the chairman of Friedman’s Democratic county committee, are busy explaining what they did with $300,000 in fees paid by the do-nothing cable company that won the Bronx franchise. Teah, who managed Simon’s campaign and rarely allows the comatose beep to appear in public without him, also faces federal grand jury questions about the [ed. note: line cut off] tor and LeWinter. Indeed Simon, the knob on Friedman’s door and master of the dunce defense, may be the only major Bronx player untroubled by the current probes.
Of the two leaders, Koch was closest to Friedman, one of a select few that the mayor invited to his private inaugural ceremony just a couple of months ago. This is the story of how Friedman has finessed the Koch years, angling for deals in the nooks and crannies of city government. His influence is seen through four clients — a landlord in search of city leases, a developer hunting bonuses, and two bus company executives pursuing franchises. The relationship between Friedman and Koch began in 1978, just when Koch helped round up the district leader votes that made Friedman county leader. By 1981, they were so close that the mayor attended Friedman’s marriage to Jackie Glassman, and later made the bride his $47,000-a-year deputy director of special events. Had Ed Koch been elected governor in 1982, Friedman would likely have become the state Democratic chairman.
A city commissioner told the Voice that at a Bronx organization dinner dance a couple of years ago, Koch looked at the two dozen top city officials sitting at the front table, and opened his speech with this line: “At least I know where my commissioners are tonight.” One of the commissioners at the dinner was transportation czar Tony Ameruso, who was then overseeing the Manes-run PVB subsidiary that gave Friedman his Citisource bonanza. According to top Board of Estimate sources, Ameruso personally lobbied for the contract with at least one board member, making a highly unusual visit to the board’s chambers the day of the vote. The only one of the currently mentioned probe targets from a Brooklyn clubhouse (Borough President Howard Golden’s), Ameruso retired just before recent Voice revelations that he was in the private parking business with a mobster and fixer judge Brennan.
Nothing prior to Friedman’s current problems seemed to affect Koch’s public warmth for this unambiguous rogue. Friedman went straight from government to Saxe Bacon, the law firm run by Roy Cohn, the four-times-indicted, self-advertised tax dodger who is both the tour guide and historian of public corruption in New York. Neither Friedman’s linkup with Cohn, nor the eventual news of the dirty business their “clients” did with city agencies, seemed to damage his relationship with the mayor. The conviction, and then the mob-style murder, of a city director, Rick Mazzeo, who’d delivered concessions to Saxe Bacon clients while being represented by the firm himself, also left City Hall undisturbed. And when Friedman re-created Ramon Velez, the South Bronx poverty baron who Koch had described as a poverty pimp in his 1977 campaign and defunded at the start of his first term, the mayor allowed his Human Resources Administration to pump millions into Velez’s hands and a $209,000 salary directly into his pocket.
As the $7000-a-month lobbyist for the taxi industry, Friedman blocked every mayoral attempt at reform, while making more from that single client every 30 days than the average Bronx citizen earns a year. No one even noticed that Friedman’s lobbying, which kept the number of taxi medallions at 1937 levels, was in conflict with his role as Bronx Democratic leader. He was preventing the borough’s blacks and Latins from ever breaking into the lucrative cab industry — or any Bronx resident from ever getting adequate service.
When Friedman championed Galiber, who Congressman Koch had gone to federal prosecutors about in the mid-’70s, and turned the Democratic line over to Republican boss and State Senator John Calandra, who had gay-baited Koch during the 1977 mayoral election, Koch responded, by endorsing Calandra himself and giving Galiber’s mob-tied trucking company dirt and dumping contracts.
Friedman became the symbol of the mayor’s shifting mores. In Mayor, Koch accurately depicts Friedman as Beame’s chief patronage dispenser, yet turns an episode about Friedman’s wholesaling of youth jobs into an excuse for praising him as “one of the smartest, ablest, most loyal people I know.” In the sequel, Politics, he admiringly quotes Friedman as offering to get a thousand people to a Koch dinner dance if the mayor would only “give me a thousand jobs” (Koch called this sort of quid pro quo with the public payroll “the regular glue of politics”). The mayor, who preaches merit at the mere mention of affirmative action, wound up endorsing Simon last year against a capable pro-Koch minority challenger, Assemblyman Jose Serrano. The only possible explanation — especially since the mayor had touted Serrano as a future mayor — was that Koch was Friedman’s captive, a mouthy shill for an amoral shell.
Even now, the mayor who shouted crook at Manes barely mentions Friedman, who is the one actually accused of having misled the Koch administration about his personal interest in a city contract. Indications are that Friedman’s defense, should he be charged with having defrauded the city, will be that the administration was well aware of his personal stake in the company. City officials are already arguing that they thought Citisource was merely one more Friedman client using the county leader’s clout — apparently an everyday occurrence inside Koch’s City Hall. The administration seems to accept influence-peddling, just so long as there isn’t a capital gain.
A Voice investigation has uncovered a few choice examples of the Friedman lobbying style at work during the Koch years. Since none of these examples involve companies actually owned by Friedman, this is a list of still approved activities.
HIRING FRIEDMAN TO LOBBY MANES
In late November 1982, 40 Worth Street, a 16-story office building a few blocks north of City Hall that has long housed several city agencies, changed hands. The new owners, Newmark & Company, wanted the city to remain in the over 500,000 square feet that the city was then renting in their musty, deteriorating building. They also wanted to terminate 230,000 square feet of existing, cheap leases as much as a year and a half before they expired. Then they wanted to lock the city into new 10-year leases — at more than double the previous rent — at a time when the city was signing other downtown leases for only half that long (they also sought two-year cancellation clauses as opposed to the single year that was frequently being offered by the city). The switch to shorter downtown leases was partially prompted by Board of Estimate members Manes and Howie Golden, who vote on every city lease and who were talking about moving agencies out to the boroughs.
Newmark seemed to have little trouble getting what it wanted. By January 1983, only a month after the purchase, leases for four city agencies were up for Board of Estimate approval. But the leases hung there for nine months, laid over again and again by Manes. Joined by Council President Carol Bellamy and Comptroller Jay Goldin, Manes turned the leases for 40 Worth into a war cry for outer borough (particularly Queens) rentals. The city kept putting the leases on the calendar, but seemed to back away from them at times. On July 25, Department of General Services Commissioner Robert Litke wrote Bellamy, conceding: “We have not moved on the package of 40 Worth leases because we have not yet reached firm conclusions regarding the feasibility of relocating the affected agencies.”
It is not clear exactly when Newmark turned to Stanley Friedman for help, though it is clear that they did. One person who says so is the city’s former leasing director, Alex Liberman, who pleaded guilty in a multi-million dollar federal extortion case. Liberman, who is now doing 12 years in a federal pen, has recently begun talking to prosecutors and the FBI, reportedly telling them that Friedman pressured him and others to stick with the Newmark leases despite the opposition.
In the midst of the 40 Worth debate, the mayor, at Bellamy’s insistence, instituted policies requiring agency heads seeking Manhattan renewals to submit written justifications. The tenant seeking the largest renewals was the Department of Transportation, whose commissioner, Ameruso, waited to complain in writing about horrendous conditions in the building until a month after the leases were approved. The next largest tenant was the Department of Environmental Protection, whose leasing director, Ed Gitkind, is close to Friedman. Signing the requisitions to remain at 40 Worth for the third largest agency, the Department of Personnel, was First Deputy Commissioner Nick LaPorte Jr., the son of the Staten Island county leader. LaPorte told the Voice he was unaware that Friedman had anything to do with the rental and that his sign-off was a routine matter; neither Gitkind nor Ameruso returned Voice calls.
Though Howard Rubinstein, the publicist who represents Newmark, confirmed that the company retained Friedman to lobby for the leases, primarily at the Board of Estimate, neither Bellamy nor Goldin were approached by Friedman. Both Bellamy and a Goldin spokesman told the Voice that it was “news” to them that Friedman was involved. Manes isn’t talking, of course, and his deputy, Claire Schulman, who laid the item over meeting after meeting, says that “as far as I can recall I never heard that Stanley Friedman had any involvement with 40 Worth.” In September, Manes’s opposition suddenly evaporated. Goldin and Bellamy followed his lead, and the 11 leases were unanimously passed. The ostensible reason for Manes’s shift was given in a joint statement he and Koch issued on September 15, the day the 40 Worth leases passed (and two days after Liberman was arrested in the bribe scandal).
The statement announced that five city agencies would be “moving to sites in Jamaica, Queens, leasing a total of 124,000 square feet.” Manes was quoted as claiming that the “new city offices” would bring “hundreds of new employees” to Queens. Strangely though, one of the agencies listed as part of the deal was already located in Queens. A second, the Environmental Control Board, had announced in 1981 that they would be setting up small offices in all the outer boroughs and had already made the Brooklyn move. The other three agencies — including Parks, Human Resources, and General Services — never moved and are not now planning to relocate. Subterranean lobbyist Friedman, whose Bronx party position should’ve put him at the head, of the line demanding outer borough move-outs, had apparently cajoled Manes to end the longest lasting Board of Estimate resistance to Manhattan’s monopoly for nothing.
MACKLOWE’S MIGHTY MOVER
Harry Macklowe is the builder whose demolition company, hurrying to tear down two 44th Street buildings in January 1985 to beat the effective date of a new law banning the conversion of SRO hotels, forgot to turn off the gas. Both Macklowe’s vice president and his demolition company were indicted for the raid, as was Sol Goldman, who sold the buildings to Macklowe, but Macklowe himself escaped with a $2 million civil penalty. A major Manhattan office and residential builder, Macklowe has long been represented by Stanley Friedman. Though next to no one knew it, Friedman was a closet counsel on Macklowe’s other controversial project — a 462-unit, 39-story, rental tower at York between East 72nd and 73rd Streets that displaced 22 light manufacturing and other businesses.
Asked why Friedman’s representation was largely invisible, Macklowe said: “Stanley wasn’t familiar with the public process. I used him on other issues where his advice and counsel were more germane, where I needed a more respected voice.” Macklowe said he uses Friedman because Friedman is “an influential man” who can “deal with the morass of red tape” and “guide us through the proper departments.” He refused to say what departments Friedman was most helpful with and declined to specify a single legal document that Friedman had ever prepared for him.
Though Friedman never surfaced publicly, he helped the 72nd Street project when it was initially approved in February 1983 by the City Planning Commission. Macklowe’s up-front counsel was Jesse Masyr, who’d just stepped down as Manhattan Borough President Andy Stein’s deputy to join the law firm headed by Donald Manes’s closest sidekick, Sid Davidoff. Masyr says that he doesn’t know what Friedman did to help push the project. According to a source close to the negotiations, Friedman was on the phone to chairman Herb Sturz, pressing for a settlement of the commission’s tough demands on the developer.
In exchange for the commission’s approval of the variances necessary for the Macklowe project, Sturz and his staff were requiring Macklowe to make improvements on the esplanade between the FDR Drive and the East River from 72nd to 81st Street. Macklowe was “haggling about everything,” the source said, especially contesting “the extent of the esplanade improvements” and the planning commission’s explicit connection of the improvements to building permits and occupancy certificates for the new tower. The negotiations between Macklowe and the commission staff reached “a very intense period,” lasting until 4 a.m. one February morning, when Macklowe “would periodically leave the room to take calls” from Friedman and commission member Ted Teah. “Teah and Friedman would then call Sturz at home,” said the source.
Macklowe acknowledged that it was “possible” that Friedman had acted as an intermediary between him and Sturz, but said he “didn’t recall conversations with Teah,” adding that if he did talk to Teah, the conversations weren’t “anything outstanding, not anything of moment.” Sturz did not return Voice calls, and Teah denied that he’d discussed the project with Sturz. There is no denying, however, that Teah voted for the Macklowe permit, even while his officemate Friedman was lobbying for its approval.
Teah’s device for avoiding this apparent conflict is his emphatic contention, which he repeated in a Voice interview, that he has not been associated with Friedman’s firm for five years. But Teah’s financial disclosure statement with the city, which was filed in July 1984 and covers 1983, lists the East 68th Street penthouse where the firm is located as a source of Teah’s income (up to $100,000), describing him as an “attorney proprietor” working there. That is exactly how Friedman describes himself in the disclosure form filed by his wife. Roy Cohn, who mastered the trick of paying no taxes by earning almost no income and living on expenses, has apparently invented a law firm without partners — all the prominent names are sole proprietors. A notice on the planning commission secretary’s wall lists Teah’s contact number as care of Rose Mintzer, Friedman’s secretary. And one commission official told the Voice that the way they reach Teah now is to call Saxe Bacon. When they ask for Teah, said the official, they are “routinely switched into Friedman’s office.”
After the project was approved in February, Macklowe had to return two more times to the planning commission. That October, he easily got commission approval to modify the plans. But in 1985, when Macklowe sought another approval, the commission learned that the “proposed” modifications — ranging from floor area changes to window size — had already been completed. Sturz told the Times: “We cannot be in a position to have a developer go ahead and do something in violation of a special permit.” An angry Sturz, supported by several other disturbed commissioners (but not Teah), delayed approval for months of what is technically labeled a minor modification, threatening at one point to find that the changes were major. Such a finding would’ve forced Macklowe to go through the city’s entire review process again, blocking the opening of the building.
Friedman’s previously covert representation of Macklowe suddenly became open. Friedman went to a commission meeting in June 1985 to press Sturz and the staff to permit the modification. Asked why Friedman was brought in, Masyr replied: “The client felt I needed help. I think Stanley was tremendous. He was very articulate in the chairman’s office. He created the atmosphere for a discussion to take place. He said the obvious thing, that we did not come down to argue about the violation. We came down to make amends. He had the authority to make a deal.” Friedman claimed that Macklowe had new tenants waiting in hotels to move in, saying they couldn’t until the certificate of occupancy was issued.
Sturz pressed Friedman for 22 more blocks of esplanade improvement, from 103rd Street to 125th Street. Friedman left the room to call Macklowe and returned, saying: “OK, you got it.” Macklowe says now that Friedman “tried to reach me,” before saddling Macklowe with the $4 million obligation, but “I wasn’t available.” Macklowe would not reply when asked if Friedman had acted beyond his authority. When the planning commission finally approved Macklowe’s modifications a couple of days later, Friedman’s friend Teah was recorded as present, and raised no objection. Neither did any other commissioner. Macklowe got his temporary occupancy certificate, allowing his tenants to move in, four days after the commission approved the modification. He has since made five submissions to the commission containing plans for his latest esplanade improvement, some of which were so skimpy they were described by a city official as “laughable.”
Macklowe stubbornly submitted the same plan three different times, but he will not get a final certificate of occupancy until he comes up with a proposal that meets with the commission’s approval. His esplanade delays have also held up a multi-million dollar, 10-year, 421A tax abatement for the building, which won preliminary approval from the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Agency a couple of weeks before Macklowe’s assault on 44th Street. (In a schizoid decision, HPD awarded the tax break only to the 72nd Street half of the project, where no businesses would be displaced. The agency obviously can’t encourage half a project; it either gives an incentive to a developer or it doesn’t.)
Friedman’s influence on Macklowe’s behalf was apparently felt in at least one other agency, the Department of Transportation, where Friedman apparently pushed for approval of the first phase of esplanade improvements in 1983. Steve Abend, the special assistant to DOT’s general counsel Robert Shaw, told the city’s Department of Investigations in a 1984 sworn deposition that he overheard Shaw and Friedman in phone conversations “about maintaining an esplanade from 71st Street to 81st Street in which Friedman represented the builder, Harry Macklowe.” Abend told the Voice that he saw Shaw, a longtime activist in Simon’s Riverdale Democratic club and a Friedman-backed school board member in Community District 10, pressure another DOT official, Jerry Blaustein, to approve Macklowe’s esplanade work despite Blaustein’s concerns about the soundness of the seawall. When reached by the Voice, Blaustein attempted to minimize his connection with the esplanade work, asserting that he was only concerned with “a traffic circle” near Macklowe’s 72nd Street site. But agency documents reveal that Blaustein was intimately involved in every stage of the esplanade process and that he played a pivotal role in approving Macklowe’s planned improvements (DOT is officially listed as the walkway’s landlord because it abuts the FDR Drive). Through his attorney, Shaw refused to answer Voice questions.
Rebecca Robertson, the planning commission’s Manhattan director, told the Voice that Blaustein “verbally assured” her by phone that the seawall of the esplanade was sound, justifying the work on the walkway. She said Blaustein sent her test borings of the wall that were completed by an engineer selected by Macklowe. In fact, the report indicates that the test was of the subsurface of the center of the walkway. David Sobel, who heads the Department of Ports & Terminals permit division and examined the Macklowe esplanade work, says that no surveys were done of the seawall (Masyr concurs).
A visual inspection by engineers hired by Macklowe three weeks before the final agreement was signed in February 1983 did conclude that the seawall was so damaged by tidal pressure that it “must be repaired” in various places. Macklowe passed this damage report on to Sturz, then sought and got an indemnification for liability on any damage to the seawall. “We thought the whole project was folly,” Macklowe told the Voice. “We questioned it then and we question it now.” The planning commission reacted to these warnings as if they were simply attempts to avoid doing the improvements. Since Macklowe was merely the first in what has become a series of developers who will get zoning bonuses from the city in exchange for improvements from one end of the esplanade to the other, the city’s lack of interest in whether it is cosmetically improving a walkway that is washing out to sea is mystifying.
Once the city and Macklowe signed the agreement, Macklowe had to give the comptroller irrevocable letters of credit totaling almost $1.5 million-the estimated cost of the first 10 blocks of improvements plus 25 percent. If he failed for any reson to finish the walkway after that, Macklowe would lose his deposit plus interest. The developer who weeks earlier condemned the project had become its champion. That is when Abend contends that Friedman and Shaw pressed for DOT approvals. DOT officials sent two letters, one in September and one in October, authorizing Ports & Thrminals to issue a work permit for the project. The pressure had apparently eroded any doubts.
LEAVE THE STEERING TO STANLEY
Ed Arrigoni, whose New York Bus Tours Inc. controls most Bronx express bus franchises and school bus contracts, may be Stanley Friedman’s most cherished client. Arrigoni has bankrolled such pivotal Friedman-backed campaigns as the first Simon race in 1979, when he put up $50,000 to cement Friedman’s county leadership against a strong reform challenge, and Assemblyman John Dearie’s 1981 comptroller race, when Arrigoni, his wife and his companies donated $141,000 to a challenge to incumbent Jay Goldin, who was then in a blood feud with Friedman partner Roy Cohn.
Friedman escorted Arrigoni to the VIP section of the Democratic national convention in 1980 and sat with him during Jimmy Carter’s acceptance speech. Arrigoni has designed several buses with rear platforms and sound systems for use in campaigns, and regularly lends them (together with a driver) to Board of Estimate members Simon, Andrew Stein and David Dinkins — the same people who vote on his franchise renewals.
As Beame’s deputy mayor during the mid 70’s, Friedman actually signed some contracts granting franchises to Arrigoni. Since he left government, Friedman has helped Arrigoni win a host of public benefits. Henry Dachinger, the deputy director of the city’s Bureau of Franchises, told the Voice that Friedman has appeared at the bureau pushing fare increases and increased state subsidies for Arrigoni’s company and Liberty Lines, another private bus client that also has express franchises, primarily in Westchester. (Liberty’s owner Arthur Bernacchia is Friedman’s second largest political giver.) “When Friedman came in, it involved both companies,” said Dachinger. “Sometimes he was an attorney and sometimes he indicated he was a public servant. I can’t differentiate which times he appeared· as a public servant and which times as an attorney.”
As a critical part of the renewal process, the Department of Transportation writes the Board of Estimate and the franchise bureau supporting or opposing each bus line’s application. Dachinger says that DOT’s Ameruso, during his eight-year term as commissioner, never objected to Liberty or NYBT applications, though Ameruso has regularly written to oppose others. Dachinger said that DOT “doesn’t like express buses because they create a traffic problem and can take away revenue from the MTA.” Yet Ameruso supported the authorization of a new NYBT route from City Island to Manhattan in 1979, backed a renewal of its franchises in 1983, and raised no objection last year when the company was granted extensions on its midtown routes to Wall Street — a major boon for the company. Ameruso similarly backed franchise extensions for Liberty in 1983, giving it a series of route changes, including one that had been rejected by Ameruso’s predecessor in 1976 “because it duplicated service provided directly by the subway system.”
While Ameruso has not been concerned about the traffic problems prompted by NYBT and Liberty’s combined 326 express buses a day, he wrote a 1984 letter objecting to the renewal of a 12-year-old franchise for Inter-County Coach, a line that Dachinger says sends two buses a day between Brookhaven and midtown. Ameruso complained that “the buses compete for scarce street space in midtown and create pollution and congestion.” The franchise bureau and State DOT opposed Ameruso, and Inter-County’s route was renewed.
Ameruso has also been involved in the federally subsidized purchases of new buses for these and other lines, starting with the 1979 acquisition of 41 buses for the two lines. While the earlier acquisitions were in accordance with a federal formula, the city is now preparing to use federal subsidies to buy another 106 buses for the two lines, doubling the initial number reserved for these express companies. In addition to the purchases and renewals, DOT has discretionary authority over just what stops are permitted along private bus routes, but after weeks of requests at DOT, the Voice was not permitted access to records about stops granted NYBT or Liberty.
Steven Abend, the former special assistant who testified at the Department of Investigations in 1984 about Friedman’s influence at DOT, claimed that Friedman and Arrigoni frequently called Abend’s boss, Robert Shaw, the agency’s general counsel and a Bronx clubhouse activist, about the purchases and decisions regarding stops. Jack Lusk, the mayor’s mass transit advisor, says the agency exercises no discretion in the purchase arrangement, but records obtained by the Voice reveal that Shaw participated in negotiations with federal authorities over the bus purchase agreement.
Lusk acknowledges that the city and state have dramatically increased the level of state subsidy for the two lines, which went from zero in 1982 to over $4.2 million for 1984. A 1981 Goldin audit revealed that Arrigoni had juggled his books to obtain at least $32,000 in excess subsidies, and recommended that future subsidies be withheld pending a criminal investigation (no prosecution ever occurred). Lusk, who praised Arrigoni’s company as one of the most efficient, says these subsidy levels are a result of a formula pegged to each bus line’s profitability and the total mileage their buses travel. Lusk brushed off questions about Friedman’s involvement, saying he “might have attended a meeting.” Arrigoni returned our call and announced that he would not answer questions, saying that he doesn’t think the Voice “is an honorable newspaper.”
THE SCANDALS STAND-UP GUY
The Newmark, Macklowe and Arrigoni sagas are snapshots of Stanley Friedman at work. A recent Newsday story recounted how he collected a $25,000 fee as a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Motion Pictures Theatre Owners, who used him to beat back a 1983 city sales tax on admissions. Friedman’s firm also managed to represent the Clean Air Cab Corporation, the only recipient of new cab medallions, awarded in spite of the numerical limit that Friedman’s other clients, the large fleets, pay him to defend. And of course, there is the story broken by the Times some weeks ago of Friedman’s role in putting together two wings of the current scandal — the towing companies, now under investigation by Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola, and the collection kingpins. In its way, that deal, too, has an intriguing Manes/Friedman intertwine. It turns out that the Tow Operators Association, and many of its individual members, have been represented by the Queens law firm of Baron & Vesel, whose senior partner, Martin Baron, is the treasurer of Manes’s campaign committee.
A source close to the PVB investigations said that Friedman appeared when the negotiations stalled in 1983, “like a ghost out of the machine,” without even indicating who he was working for (it was Datacom, a PVB collection company). Friedman hosted four meetings, according to the source, most of which featured Geoff Lindenauer. The first meeting was at the Atrium Health Club, followed by meetings at Saxe Bacon and Friedman’s Bronx county headquarters, and closing with a lunch session. The result was that Friedman’s client got the contract to tow scofflaw cars, which Datacom then sublet to actual towing firms in each county. Datacom told the News that they hired Friedman in 1983 because he had “very, very good government and political experience.”
The inside track has been Stanley Friedman’s currency since he began working in the city council more than 20 years ago. He advertises it. He may have inherited it-his first scandal was a 1972 ticket-fixing charge that involved him and his father, who then worked at PVB. His street savvy has kept him atop a county that is three quarters minority; he is elected every two years by 20 district leaders who are predominantly black and Latin. Even now, while Manes hides, Friedman goes to meetings of the Democratic National Committee and dines with the Inner Circle of the city’s press corps, taking the cigar, the smile, and his slight tremble with him. This week he sent out invitations to a May, $250-ahead Bronx organization fund raiser that could become an indictment party. Friedman must sense, with the Lindenauer turn-around, that his old beach and Board friend Donald Manes may wind up on a witness stand against him. But no one who knows Friedman expects him to wilt or whine. The tragedy of Friedman is that he knows who he is and he likes himself. ■
Research assistance by Janine Kerry Steel and Leslie Conner
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 18, 2020