Tuesday, May 17, 2011

EDC Denies Complicity in Illegal Lobbying Campaign

In its response to comments at the the recently concluded eminent domain hearing, EDC is claiming that it had no complicity in the illegal lobbying effort of Claire Shulman. Here is verbatim the disingenuous denial: "NYCEDC provided funds to the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation...pursuant to agreement, which required that the funds be used for specified operational expenses in accordance with the law." (p.20)

Oh boy! Pinocchio Pinsky is at it again-but now it appears that the city is throwing Momma Shulman off the train. It is doing so with an apparent and inappropriate straight face, claiming that EDC had no complicity with-and the mayor's office no foreknowledge of-the intended use of proceeds that Shulman's group obtained.

Yet, as we have pointed out ad nauseum it is Shulman herself who publicly stated that the expressed purpose of forming her group was to spearhead the lobbying effort on behalf of the project. And spearhead she did, so if EDC was unaware of this initially-which is as improbable as seeing the mayor slam dunk a basketball-then it must have gotten a hint of this when dear old Claire started to appear regularly all over the city in the guise of a lobbyist. Even EDC can't be that dense.

So, if not dense, then definitely disingenuous-and if the AG's office is still on the trail of these prevaricators then it seems like as good a time as any to lower the boom before any more whoppers are disseminated by these dishonest folks. But this bit of false witness wasn't the only one in the EDC hearing response.

The agency also denies that there was any, "precedent setting" deal with labor on the project (p.11) Gee, the unions should be surprised by that-especially 32 BJ and the RWDSU. Here's what they said in city council testimony:


MR. STUART APPELBAUM: … This past summer the Central Labor Council reached historic agreements with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to secure broad labor standard agreements on the Willets Point project that will require the selected developer and contractors to pay prevailing and living wages, hire workers from State certified apprentice programs, encourage expanded and enhanced retail uses, and discourage suburban models of big box stores. These agreements were critical to labor's support on this project, our goal being to ensure that workers and families in the surrounding communities can 2 participate in and benefit from the economic activity and job creation. …

MS. CAMILLE RIVERA: … This is Camille Rivera; I'm the Assistant Political Director for 32BJ. …This is a precedent setting agreement by the way. That we have--

MR. APPELBAUM: [Interposing] This is a--

MS. RIVERA: -- excuse me, I'm sorry. This is a historic agreement where for the first time we have prevailing wage language for building surface workers, construction trades, you name it, so that we could be able to--so that members that -- people that live and work in Queens can afford to live there. I mean this is a huge deal."

We would suggest that labor get the next agreement written in blood, and maybe it should rethink its support for this boondoggle considering just how deft the city is in going back on its word. But going back is something that they are getting quite proficient at; and we see historical revisionism in action as well on the issue of the need to completely rehab Willets Point. "in its totality."

Now, however, as EDC proceeds with an illegal phased in development approach they are unfazed by the need to alter the historical record. Here is what they say in response to the rehabilitation question (Comment 6; pp. 11-12): "Comprehensive development of the District, whether as a whole or in phases, would allow for the improvement of roadways and infrastructure..." (emphasis added)

But, as we have commented, this is not what was said during the initial land use review (watch the entire video). As we said last week:

"In the following embedded video you will get to see just how strenuously the city argued against any partial development of the Willets Point area-with serial prevaricator Robert Lieber leading the charge claiming that, because of the flood plain nature of the land, the "high water table," and the years of soil contamination, the project could not be developed in a piece meal fashion. Lieber told the city council that developing Willets Point was a, "transformative exercise," that must be dealt with, "in its totality."

Not to be outdone, EDC's Senior Vice President Thomas McKnight told CB #7 that because of the extensive nature of the environmental clean up, "those kinds of comprehensive things can't really happen with the businesses there...We want to redevelop the entire Willets Point district."

Sounds like the same manner in which EDC's consultants operated-arguing different points for different audiences. This entire development is looking more like it would fit comfortable within the confines of a federal RICO indictment-but that would mean that law enforcement would have to exhibit the courage of going after the powerful and entrenched interests: Mayor Bloomberg, his deputy, the entire EDC crew, and of course, Toby Stavisky, her son Evan who spearheaded the illegal lobbying, and the Grand Dame of the Queens Democratic Party, the one and only Claire Shulman

If the AG is really investigating all of these hijinks we can only say, "Come out, come out, wherever you are." The clock is ticking on all of this and the malfeasance should not be punished-if that's the Ag's intention-posthumously as far as the rights of WPU are concerned.