WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Phones were busy inside the legislative office of Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. on Wednesday.
Three staffers were kept busy by helping constituents looking for help with housing and a myriad of other issues.
It appeared to be business as usual inside the Brooklyn lawmaker's office a day after he was arrested on bribery charges and — for the second time this year — faces pending federal corruption charges.
When the jury found him not guilty of charges that he did political favors in exchange for a no-show job earlier this month, Boyland vowed to continue working for his constituents. He credited his mother's prayers for the favorable verdict.
Now, prosecutors say they covertly recorded tape of Boyland trying to shake down two undercover FBI agents for $250,000 in part to help defray the cost of his first federal trial.
The Boylands are a Brooklyn political dynasty of sorts. The lawmaker's legislative office is on Thomas S.Boyland Street — named for his late uncle who once held the same Assembly seat he holds now. Boyland's father, William Sr., succeeded the well regarded Thomas Boyland.
Albion Liburd, executive director of Community Services Housing Development Corporation, recalled Thomas Boyland and praised him for "delivering" for the district.
But, he said, William Jr. had consistently not come through for the district — one of the poorest in the city. His district includes Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Bushwick.
Liburd said the charges that Boyland tried to sell his office were such a breach of public trust that he should resign immediately.
"Here in New York State, for whatever reason, we let them continue until either the next election cycle is up or they are convicted," Liburd said.
On the Ocean Hill commercial strip along Pitkin Avenue, street vendor C. Taylor said he wanted Boyland to stay in office. When his inventory of CDs were confiscated, Taylor said the politician successfully retrieved them from police.
"He could be innocent," Taylor said. "He should stay in office. He's a good man."
Another vendor, Abdul Karim Amin, said he wanted Boyland to resign immediately.
"He doesn't need to represent this community at all," Amin said. "The way he did it, he just made fools of the people. You don't do that."
None of the staffers in the office wanted to comment, and the chief of staff was not in the Central Brooklyn district office.