Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Turn Back the Clock!

Crain's Insider is reporting today (subsc. only) on a letter sent to the city by Michael Gerrard, WPU's attorney. demanding that the city rescind its 2008 approvals for the development of Willets Point-approvals that AG Schneiderman has determined were the result of illegal lobbying. Here is the Insider note:

Willets Foes Ask to Turn Back Clock

On the heels of the city acknowledging illegal lobbying for the Willets Point redevelopment, a lawyer for opponents last week requested that it withdraw the project’s 2008 approvals, calling them “the fruit of a tainted process.” Said Michael Gerrard, the lawyer for Willets Point United: “Citizens deserve fresh decisions without that poisonous taint.” The city has no plans to answer until his argument is made in court, which is likely. “The reasoning behind the request that the city void the approvals … is wrong,” said Christopher Reo, senior counsel for the Law Department’s environmental unit

Wrong on what basis? Did the Shulman group act as an illegal designee of the city for the purpose of the promotion of the Willets Point project? Did the Shulman group lobby effectively and play a prominent role in the approval process? We know that the answer to both those questions is, Yes!

The city enters into an illegal agreement and it is faulty reasoning to assume that the process should be started over? The city's response, while disappointing, is not surprising. Arrogance and a disrespect for the law underlay the city's scheme from the very beginning so it is quite expected that it would continue to exhibit the same disrespect and arrogance when asked to simply clean up the illegal mess it has made.

But let's not lose sight of the bigger picture here. By setting up and implementing an illegal scheme for the promotion of development of Willets Point, the city acted as a co-conspiritor with the Shulman LDC-a group that was masquerading as a charity in order to hide its real purpose to promote the self-interests of its real estate members.

At the end of this process the city awarded to a key stakeholder in the Shulman LDC, Sterling Equities, $200 million worth of property (for no money in exchange) that was directly purchased by the city because the sellers were intimidated by an illegal scheme whose purpose was to use eminent domain to take away their property-property, once it is fully developed, that will be worth billions.

No reason to void the approvals? Why, there are billions of reasons to do so-aside from simply doing the right thing by rectifying wrongdoing.