Thursday, April 27, 2006

Maybe it's time to rename this facility?

According to the city's web site:
In a ceremony held December 12, 2001, the Manhattan Detention Complex in lower Manhattan was re-named the Bernard B. Kerik Complex in honor of the City’s former Correction Commissioner. Mr. Kerik, who was then serving as the City’s Police Commissioner, played a major role in advancing the professionalism of the City’s jail system during his six-year tenure with the Department.
From Wikipedia, a reminder as to why, with hindsight, the naming of the facility may be inappropriate:
Kerik stated that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper who had used someone else's social security number. Similar violations of immigration law had previously caused the withdrawal of the nominations of Linda Chavez as Secretary of Labor by G.W. Bush and of Zoe Baird as Attorney General by Bill Clinton.

But this turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Shortly after withdrawal of the nomination, the press reported on several other incidents which might also have posed difficulties in gaining confirmation by the Senate. These include: an outstanding arrest warrant from 1998 stemming from unpaid bills on the maintenance of a condominium (documents regarding this warrant were faxed to the White House less than three hours before Kerik submitted his withdrawal of acceptance to the President); questions regarding Kerik's sale of stock in Taser International shortly before the release of an Amnesty International report critical of the company's stun-gun product; two simultaneous extra-marital affairs, one with his publisher Judith Regan, alleged by many close to Kerik to have taken place partly in a donated apartment near the World Trade Center site intended for rescue workers; a sexual harassment lawsuit; allegations of misuse of police personnel and property for personal benefit; connections with a construction company suspected of having ties to organized crime; and failure to comply with ethics rules on gifts. Kerik has publically refuted many of these allegations. For example, he has stated that the sale of his Taser stock was done expressly to avoid any conflict of interest charges as head of the Department of Homeland Security.

And in November 2005, a New Jersey agency concluded that Kerik was guilty of misconduct. From the Times:

New Jersey officials said yesterday that Bernard B. Kerik abused his position as New York City correction commissioner in the late 1990's by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from a construction company that he was helping to pursue business with the city. They say the company has long had ties to organized crime.

Turns out Mayor Bloomberg was asked in 2004 when Kerik's nomination to be the Secretary of Homeland Security flamed out whether the faciity might be renamed. Bloomberg said no.

But there's still time for the Mayor to change his mind. As Ellis Hennican wrote in his Newsday column last month:
No one seems to know why the complex still bears the name of the disgraced Homeland Security nominee and ex-New York police commissioner, who remains the target of various uncomfortable probes. But it does.


Daniel Millstone said...

Keeping the name reminds all of us of the misuses of power by Mr. K. Perhaps some reporters will be inspired investigate other such shining lights.

Alex Navarro said...

Good point, Daniel.

Sort of like the Tweed Courthouse?