BEHIND THE NEWS: Another Sen. Kennedy?

December 15, 2010 11:30:26 AM PST
It's hard to imagine that, now that she wants it, Caroline Kennedy won't get it.

Talking about the U.S. Senate seat to replace Hillary Clinton, when she is confirmed as Secretary of State. No question, Kennedy brings star power. And there's a chance she'd do a good job - she's smart, knows the ropes and is certainly connected.

But what message does this send? That you don't need to have public approval -- and by public approval I mean election -- to get one of the most important positions in representative government?

And she'd be appointed by a Governor - David Paterson - who wasn't elected to his job.

Seems not exactly a shining example of democracy in action. And it would be nice to assume that the Governor is paying close attention to the shenanigans of his counterpart in Illinois.

The two cases are completely different of course. But a Kennedy appointment would not be made in a vacuum to the political scandal over the President-elect's vacated Senate seat.

Would love to hear what you have to say about all this. Should Ms. Kennedy be appointed to the seat? Why, or why not? Please click HERE to send me your response.

We'll have the latest on the political scene, tonight at 11.

We're also on top of the big financial scandal that is sweeping the upper crusts of New York and its environs.

Bernard Madoff's investment firm turned out to be less investment and more Ponzi scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

Old investors were allegedly paid off with money dumped into the company by new investors, prosecutors claim. To the tune of $50 billion.

Some of the wealthiest folks were snookered, including Steven Spielberg, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Fred Wilpon, Mort Zuckerman.

The Innocence Project, run by Barry Scheck, was also funded by Madoff.

Back in my young whippersnapper days as a reporter for the L.A. Times, I covered a Ponzi scheme that rocked the upper reaches of Southern California society. An "investment whiz" by the name of J. David Dominelli would sit, glasses askew, in the corner of cocktail parties, not saying much, but with a reputation of turning 20 percent monthly profits for his lucky investors.

Turns out the stuff he was "investing" all benefited him, and a few charities, and the fortunate few who got in on the ground floor of the fraud.

He spent 10 years in prison, and, because he funded a political operation that ultimately elected the Mayor of San Diego, the scandal brought down the Mayor. He's now a successful radio talk show host.

It will be interesting to see where the Madoff scandal leads. There's now talk about anyone who made a profit from this scheme - even it were years ago - returning the ill-gotten gains.

You can imagine the reaction when that happens.

It happened with J.David 24 years ago -- thanks to an aggressive bankruptcy receiver. No reason it won't happen again.

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, should be some pointed questions tonight on City Island in the Bronx, when residents ask the FDNY's Chief of Operators why one of that community's Ladder Companies will be closed from 6 p.m. until 9 a.m., as part of a department-wide budget cuts.

Last week, we reported the arrest of a firefighter from that Ladder Company, who allegedly called in false 9-1-1 calls to protest the cuts.

Jim Dolan will be there for us tonight.

And under the forget-about-it-Jake-it's-Chinatown heading tonight: An American expert on kidnapping who has helped negotiate the release of scores of kidnap victims in Latin America, was himself kidnapped in Mexico last week. At the time of his abduction he was leading a seminar on how to avoid getting kidnapped.

Scores of people have been kidnapped in the last couple of years in Mexico - the victims of rampaging drug lords and their minions.

And call it a sign of the times: Bankruptcies in the U.S. rose 34% for individuals and businesses in the third quarter.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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