Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crain's Oversight

In the Crain's Insider this morning the newsletter comments on WPU's efforts to get the city council to do an oversight hearing on the illegalities that have buttressed the Willets Point development ever since the land use applications were approved in 2008:

"Opponents of the Willets Point redevelopment—property owners and tenants who stand to be displaced from the Queens site—are requesting an oversight hearing on the project's recent headaches. It's the latest in a long series of actions in which every aspect of the process has been challenged. While the hearing would provide a soapbox for them to blast the Bloomberg administration and cite illegal lobbying for the project by a city-funded corporation, the opponents don't expect it to stop the project. However, they eventually expect to argue in court that they pursued every potential remedy afforded by the political process."

Let's be clear here. Our goal is to try to insure that the city doesn't have the authority to adopt illegal methods in its zeal to deprive us of our property rights-and if the city council were to intervene and aid us in this effort we would be more than happy to avoid the legal system altogether. But what are the chances that Chris Quinn will do the right thing and exercise her oversight authority? That's as close to a rhetorical question as one can get.

Quinn is joined at the hip with the Queens Dems and owes her political ascension to those power brokers-folks who are tied into the illegal shenanigans surrounding Willets Point. On good authority, Quinn is also a close friend of Claire Shulman, one of the ringmasters of this unethical and illegal scheme. Our goal then is to demonstrate just how much the political elites have aided and abetted the illegalities committed by EDC and Shulman's LDC-and how their nonfeasance has allowed this scheme to get to this point-the free transfer of $200 million worth of city property to one of the co-conspirators.

We have witnessed all along the reluctance of important political actors to intervene to prevent the scheme from continuing-and in the case of the previous attorney general (and current governor) we have witnessed how he rope a doped the investigation into illegal lobbying and parlayed the controversy into an endorsement from the mayor who he initially feuded with over the very investigation that WPU had initiated.

At the end of this process-one that his father should be ashamed of given his own righteous behavior over the plight of Willets Point-the new governor appointed a woman to run NYS DOT (a crucial interlocutor over the Van Wyck ramps) who had been a "transportation executive" for non other than NYC EDC. When we sent a written complaint to the NYS Inspector General-a woman named Biden who now incongruously runs the new state ethics board-we were never even given the courtesy of a reply.

So we are mindful of all the difficulties involved in getting politicians to do the right thing when that right thing runs against the powerful political grain. In spite of this we have succeeded, and the Insider should have recognized this, against all expectations to get a Supreme Court judge to issue an Order to Show Cause to have the city explain why it lied to the court; we have forced the city to withdraw its eminent domain application out of a fear of having all of its illegalities exposed; and we have managed to get the NYS AG to conclude the investigation into illegal lobbying with all parties involved admitting their guilt.

It is our belief that were WPU a protected class-one that the politically correct feels is sacrosanct-the question of what to do about the city's illegal lobbying scheme who be making headlines in the local papers; and a huge cohort of elected officials who be holding daily press conferences on the steps of city hall. Think sexual harassment or racial discrimination.

But property rights violations don't rise to that level-and that doesn't take away from the seriousness of the other issues but underscores how certain Constitutional rights have become like second class citizens. There's something wrong when putting a hand on an employees thigh becomes much more serious than taking away Jake Bono's property, land that has been in the family for four generations.

So Crain's is right about one thing. We don't expect elected officials to do the right thing-and believe that we will be able to show how their nonfeasance and active collusion allowed certain people to get away with their lawlessness. We wish it didn't have to come to this, but wishing won't change the absence of character in the political class of NYC.