Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Courier Brings Bad EDC/LDC News

The Queens Courier follows up on last week's reporting of the attorney general's smack down of the illegal lobbying of EDC/Shulman's LDC:

"Three city development corporations have admitted to illegally lobbying the City Council to win approval of their favored projects, including a much-contested plan to revamp Willets Point, the state attorney general said...The projects require City Council approvals pursuant to the state’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). But local development corporations (LDCs) are barred by statute from influencing legislation.

“These local development corporations flouted the law by lobbying elected officials, both directly and through third parties,” Schneiderman said."

The Courier also reports on Comptroller Liu's insistence that heads need to roll: "Meanwhile, the mild rebuke from the state is drawing heat from the city comptroller, who said the restructuring alone is insufficient and pushed for organization officials to be held accountable.“While these revelations of illegal lobbying are alarming, we cannot say that they come as a surprise,” said Comptroller John Liu. “For some time, this mayor has been using the EDC to create ‘astroturf’ groups to support his agenda, reward allies and dole out welfare to wealthy corporations.”

Astroturf indeed, since the Shulman group is the Potemkin Village of grass roots lobbying campaigns since her members were for the most part rich real estate firms hiding behind the group's not-for-profit status-and Liu's comments about "welfare" to wealthy corporations is right on since Sterling Equities has been handed $200 million worth of free land to build a mall next to CitiField.

This scam-because what else can you call it?-was at our expense-and the Courier quotes our statement:

"Willets Point United members said the investigation confirms their original suspicions that the entire land use review process was based on fraudulent and illegal behavior. They urged the city to end all recent and future actions regarding the area’s development.

“Our properties were put at risk by an illegal scheme, and we were forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect our constitutionally protected rights against a municipality and its front group engaged in activities that were rife with fraud,” the group said in a statement."

The story was not without a bit of black humor from the LDC's attorney Bob Bishop-the same lawyer who repeatedly claimed, falsely as it turned out, that what the LDC was doing, meeting with elected officials and writing them memos of support, was not lobbying:

"Robert Bishop, a lawyer representing FWCLDC, said the group also plans to comply with the new agreement.“The LDC is a great organization that does great things, and we will continue to do great things,” he said."

Well, he sure is write about that, isn't he? That is, if your definition of great is snatching public property at no cost for the use of one of the LDC's charter members.