Friday, March 30, 2012

A Mayor, a Speaker, and Crony Capitalism

Word comes down-via the NY Times-that there is a move afoot to exempt the giant Hudson Yards project from the recently passed living wage bill:

"Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, already facing skepticism over her handling of legislation that would raise wages for some private-sector workers, has decided to add an exemption for one of New York’s biggest pending developments, Hudson Yards. A large portion of the Hudson Yards project, a 26-acre mixed-use development along the city’s Far West Side, is specifically excluded from the proposed so-called living wage legislation in a draft that was written by Ms. Quinn’s office and is now circulating among supporters of the bill."

One thing is missing from the Times story-why exempt the largest development project the West Side of Willets Point? The paper doesn't offer a single clue but we will step in where the Times fears to tread-or, perhaps lacks the curiosity.

One of the twolead developers of this massive West Side undertaking is the Related Companies, and for over ten years Related has been treated by the Bloomberg administration as its BFF-from Bradhurst in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx Terminal Market, to the expansion of the Gateway Mall in East New York-the possible home of the city's first Wal-Mart. What the Times failed to pursue was the ten year pattern of favoritism-or why it was so crucial to exempt this project in the speaker's

Who can forget that Mike Bloomberg even tried to intervene on behalf of Related's president Jeff Blau when he was trying to get into a Fifth Avenue co-op? This is crony capitalism at its finest. You'd think that the Occupy Wall Street-obsessed Times would be able to see a pattern here?

Apparently Quinn is hitching a ride on the Bloomberg/Steve Ross express-and the NYC Partnership that she hopes will fund her way to the Gracie Mansion (if Bloomberg lets her live there). That's why the original Living wage bill excluded retail tenants! All on behalf of Related the company that calls the shots down at the Partnership:

“The living-wage bill is opposed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and by the real estate community. But the Partnership for New York City, a business group, said in January that it would support a version of the legislation that exempted tenants.”

All of this bodes ill for Willets Point-should Related get the bid. (And who would be surprised) If Quinn is mayor the pattern of crony capitalism will continue and the only real living wages will be Quinn’s wages of sin.