EDC is moving forward with its ill advised public review process for the ramps to the Van Wyck-with a hearing now scheduled for the Flushing Library on June the 8th. As ill advised as the EDC action is, however, it pales in comparison to the blatant malfeasance of the NYSDOT, the state regulatory agency that has the statutory mandate to protect the public interest.
Put simply, the agency's decision to approve the Environmental Assessment for public review is a violation of any conception of ethical standards and a manifestation of base political motivation: the SDOT commissioner made a political decison that can't be supported by any professional environmental standard or rationale. It is a decision that we intend to expose for what it is-a craven bending to the political will of the Bloomberg administration.
At least Crain's has walked back its original story that we critiqued yesterday: "Correction: The state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have given approval for the city to proceed with a public review of two proposed off-ramps for the Van Wyck Expressway at Willets Point, Queens. The nature of the permissions was misstated in the summary of an earlier version of the article "City gets key Willets Point approval," published May 5, 2011."
The Crain's correction was made after WPU's Mike Gerrard had offered the following comments to the reporter:
"I want to point out two factual errors. The first is in the subtitle -- “State and federal officials granted permission for the construction of two highway ramps…” That is not correct. The action that was announced today was the approval of the Environmental Assessment, which is an interim step on the way to construction of the ramps. Several more actions are needed before the ramps are fully approved -- there must be a public hearing; NYS DOT must grant a final approval; the FHWA must decide whether to require a full EIS; and (if it decides not to), it must grant its own final approval. (The fourth paragraph accurately states the situation.)
The second error is the statement in the second paragraph, “A court hearing next month on that question now appears moot.” It is NOT moot, because only this interim step has been taken, not the final approvals."
What this means is that the tainted review process is going to be exposed-either in the review process itself or in a court of law where the actions of EDC and Commissioner McDonald will be fully disinfected by sunlight. The commissioner in particular is on shaky ground given her failure to recuse herself for an obvious conflict of interest.
To us it looks as if Willets Point is headed directly into Westway territory-with fraud exposed and the commiters of fraud brought to justice. But let's not make a mistake here. The original sin was the illegal lobbying instigated by EDC-and the mayor's attempt to whitewash it as something other than what it was. As we go into this review process, EDC should be very concerned about its actions and their consequences.