Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WPU contacts the U.S. Attorney

As reported by the Daily News today:

A group of property owners at Willets Point are taking another swing at a city-funded development company for a lobbying goof.

Willets Point United asked federal prosecutors late last week to wade into its battle with the Flushing Willets Point Corona Land Development Corp. The corporation's leader - former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman - was slapped with a record fine recently for not registering as a lobbyist.

"We're hoping the U.S. Attorney will do something about this," said Michael Rikon, a lawyer who represents the business group. "Anything to stop this kind of conduct."

The development corporation pushed to rezone the gritty industrial area of Willets Point by swaying City Council members - a violation of state law that restricts such corporations from lobbying.

Shulman's group was partially funded by the city Economic Development Corp., which is also barred from lobbying.

EDC officials denied funding Shulman's group for the purpose of lobbying.

"We supported the efforts of the Flushing Willets Point Corona group to engage the local community, promote economic development and boost job creation," EDC spokesman Dave Lombino said Tuesday.

Business owners, however, see Shulman's group as a middleman - a way for the city to lobby itself.

"It's outrageous," Rikon said. "An executive branch of government paid money to lobby the legislative branch."

Shulman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.