Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Statement by Willets Point United re: AG Cuomo's investigation of EDC tactics

Willets Point United Inc. commends NYS Attorney General Cuomo's decision to investigate NYCEDC's financing of unlawful lobbying done by Claire Shulman's local development corporation, to enable the proposed Willets Point redevelopment. Willets Point United Inc. had requested such an investigation on June 30, 2009. Since that date, Shulman's LDC has not only continued its unlawful operations with impunity, but has been awarded an additional state grant in excess of $1.5 million.

Today's New York Times report – about how the City's chief lawyer has stonewalled Cuomo's investigation by attempting to withhold documents,and how the Bloomberg administration attempted to blackmail Cuomo to influence his investigation, by threatening Cuomo's candidacy for governor – is a wake-up call for all New Yorkers concerning the illegal tactics that have been used by the Mayor and NYCEDC in their attempt to acquire Willets Point land. If the Mayor's administration has resorted to using such tactics against AG Cuomo, there should be no doubt that it has used similarly despicable tactics against the people of Willets Point throughout the attempt to acquire their property.

Mayor Bloomberg took an oath to uphold the rule of law. But not only has Bloomberg looked the other way concerning the unlawful lobbying activities of local development corporations – even telling the Times Ledger newspapers "These groups are designed to lobby. I don't know if they technically broke the law" (Duke, Nathan and Gustafson,Anna. 2009. Mayor doubts Shulman lobby broke law. Times Ledger, August27.) – now, as reported by the New York Times, his administration has attempted to impede an investigation by the NYS Attorney General concerning those same unlawful acts. All New Yorkers must hold Mayor Bloomberg accountable for his failure to uphold the rule of law, and to impede an investigation by AG Cuomo. These may be impeachable offenses.

The unlawful use of City funds for lobbying by Shulman's LDC, and the City's attempt to stonewall Cuomo's investigation of it, are part of a pattern of disturbing behavior that has corrupted key aspects of the proposed Willets Point redevelopment, and which now includes NYCEDC's refusal to publicly disclose the details of its plan to install new Van Wyck access ramps as part of the project. Engineers have already determined that the ramps and development will cause severe adverse traffic impacts that threaten the quality of life of surrounding communities, and NYCEDC is keeping secret its records relating to the roadway modifications and traffic analyses. Just as AG Cuomo has insisted that there be no secrets concerning the transfers of funds by NYCEDC to facilitate unlawful lobbying, so too should there be no secrets concerning NYCEDC's disruptive plans for Queens roadways.

Willets Point United Inc. considers the investigation by AG Cuomo to be the breath of fresh air that may finally begin to impose law and order on a corrupt City-driven process that will otherwise continue to violate the rights of Willets Point property owners. Willets Point United Inc. is hopeful that the proposed Willets Point redevelopment now will be seen to be the fraud that it truly is; and that AG Cuomo's investigation will inspire both reform of the New York City's "shadow government" which includes NYCEDC and other local development corporations, as well as the resignations of NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky, Deputy Mayor (and former NYCEDC President) Robert Leiber, and all others who have had oversight authority concerning the corrupt Willets Point project.

Here is the Times article:

And the Village Voice: