Crain's Insider (subsc.) focuses in on the stalled investigation of the illegal lobbying of Claire Shulman on the Willets Point development. Shulman's efforts were arguably critical in the city's successful navigation of the ULURP process for the project: "Willets Point property owners are still waiting for the results of an investigation by the state attorney general's office of whether former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman's local development corporation lobbied illegally for the project that will displace them."
Readers might excuse us for being conspiratorial since it has been almost two years since we brought this matter to the attention of then AG Cuomo: "The lack of a resolution when Andrew Cuomo was attorney general prompted a conspiracy theory among owners that he had backed off as a favor to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who supports the LDC and endorsed Cuomo for governor."
And our conspiracy theory is abetted by the fact that, contrary to Crain's observation, this is a relatively simple matter: "But perhaps the case is just time-consuming: It remains unresolved under Cuomo's successor, Eric Schneiderman, whose election opponent was endorsed by Bloomberg. Schneiderman's spokesman said: “We cannot comment on an active investigation.”
Well, we are glad that the AG acknowledges the investigation's ongoing nature, but it would behoove him to move this thing along since the city-as well as Shulman-is chugging along and operating as if there has been nothing untoward happening here. And the issue at hand is not a complex one.
Section 1411 of the NYS not for profit law makes it prima facie illegal for any LDC to lobby-no ifs ands or buts. If this is true, however, what does that say for the entire lobbying effort organized by EDC-itself incorporated under the same statute?
Making matters worse, Shulman continues to meddle in the affairs of Flushing and Willets Point. In the latest manifestation of her meddling, her group-which, in our view, should have been disbanded a long time ago for violating the law-is now advocating the renovation of the Flushing LIRR station.
Talk about adding insult to injury! But first,here's the Queens Courier's report: "Flushing • Willets Point • Corona Local Development Corporation (LDC) believes the time is now to invest in downtown Flushing’s public transportation infrastructure to provide access to what is arguably the city’s most rapidly developing neighborhood. A massive overhaul project introduced by the LDC known as the Flushing Transit Oriented Development (TOD) plan addresses what the LDC calls an overburdened No. 7 subway line while significantly redeveloping and modernizing the Flushing Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Station."
Sure is timely Claire, especially since your pet development project will cause intolerable-and unmitigatable-burdens on the very mass transit infrastructure that you now gallantly propose to mitigate. This is real chutzpah!
We have already shown just how the Willets Point project will overwhelm local roads and highways. But it is also important to point out that the same slippery consultants that have played fast and loose with the transit data, have done even worse with the mass transit projections.
You see, in order to lower the projected road impacts the consultants arbitrarily have assigned huge proportions of the project trip generation to mass transit (diminishing the actual traffic impacts by low balling the car usage). And these same gonifs have done the same thing with the nearby Flushing Commons development. It's one huge unmitigated mess.
Which gets us back to the open AG investigation. The Willets Point development was conceived and midwifed in illegality-and the Shulman operation should be shut down as a first step. But the AG should not stop there.
The Bloomberg administration has used illegal tactics to bully WPU property owners off their land, and the entire process should be shut down-and this doesn't even touch on the ramp issues, where false data and illegal maneuvering has made the original illegalities of the Shulman effort appear to be almost quaint.
AG Schneiderman has a rare opportunity to tackle malfeasance at the highest and most powerful levels-going after the pet project of not only the mayor, but much of the Queens political establishment as well. By doing so, he would set himself up as a courageous crusader who operates without fear or favor. He should go for it.
Full text from Crain's Insider:
Willets Point Conspiracy Theory