"A Manhattan consulting company often tapped for city development projects plays dual roles in Queens, having supported a nonprofit that advocates for the redevelopment of Willets Point, but also preparing the study that helps determine whether or not that development will go forward."
AKRF is no stranger to conflicts of interest, of course. We recall how it was called out in Manhattan when it was discovered that the firm represented Columbia in the eminent domain fight at the same time that it was working for both the city and the state. At the time it defended itself by claiming that there was a "Chinese wall" between those at the firm working on these two separate issues. The court didn't buy the excuse and ESDC was forced to hire another firm in its place.
As Reason Magazine pointed out at the time, not only did AKRF have a conflict, but the consultants were basically hired to ratify a foregone conclusion and not render any impartial "analysis":
"In 2006, for instance, the ESDC hired the planning firm Allee King Rosen & Fleming, Inc. (AKRF) to perform an “impartial” blight study of Manhattanville. Yet as internal documents later revealed, the study was explicitly designed to rubber stamp the Columbia-ESDC agenda. In its initial outline, AKRF promised to “focus on characteristics that demonstrate blight conditions” and to emphasize “highlighting any physical blight that may be present.” In other words, the purpose of the report wasn’t to objectively determine if blight conditions were present, it was to “focus” on a pre-ordained conclusion that benefitted Columbia.”
So AKRF is a dependable shill for the power elites in this town-but what the Ledger story does is to underscore how this shilling has crossed a line to the point where AKRF is actively colluding with all the players at Willets Point while advancing its own self interest:
"AKRF is preparing the environmental impact statement for Willets Point. At a Sept. 27 public hearing in Corona, Linh Do, senior vice president at AKRF, walked a crowd through how the statement would proceed and solicited input on what the company should consider when preparing it.
But AKRF was also hired by the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC, a nonprofit headed by former Borough President Claire Shulman. The LDC has received state grant money to try and revitalize development along the Flushing waterfront west of downtown and across the Flushing River from Willets Point. After a bidding process, it selected AKRF to lead a team to perform environmental consulting and analyze ways the redevelopment of the area could move forward."
While all of these machinations were occurring, AKRF was also supporting the work of the Shulman LDC-and sitting on its board as a supporter: "
"And on the nonprofit’s website, AKRF is listed as one of its community supporters under a heading that reads: “Thanks to their generous support, the LDC is able to vigorously pursue exciting development initiatives for the greater Flushing Willets Point Corona area.”
In 2009, AKRF was a sponsor of a gala put on by the LDC, according to Nicholas Roberts, a project manager at the nonprofit, and Do said she volunteers time to brief the nonprofit on the progress of the Flushing waterfront project."
Do is quite the generous volunteering soul, isn't she? The Ledger story doesn't go far enough to uncover all of the incestuousness surrounding the LDC's effort to defraud tax payers and take away property for the benefit of its real estate developer members: A prime financier of the LDC is the NY Mets, which is owned by the owners of Sterling Equities, which Mayor Bloomberg has designated as a developer of the Willets Point project. Although the article also does not say so, AKRF is also the same firm that supervised the preparation of conflicting traffic reports pertaining to the proposed Van Wyck Expressway ramps for the Willets Point development.
So AKRF is, in the sports world terminology, the kind of referee that is labeled a "homer;" someone who fixes the game so that the home team cam win. But we have to take this a step further, Given the fact that AKRF has ended up lucratively benefiting from all of its efforts-volunteer as well as paid-we should characterize its consulting referring as a case of the ref fixing the game, not because of affection for the hometown, but because he has put down a large bet down on the home team.
From its very first involvement in this development AKRF has been busy cooking the books while feathering its nest. Its collusion and fraud on the Van Wyck ramps and its sponsorship of the LDC has paid off handsomely: "The LDC has received state grant money to try and revitalize development along the Flushing waterfront west of downtown and across the Flushing River from Willets Point. After a bidding process, it selected AKRF to lead a team to perform environmental consulting and analyze ways the redevelopment of the area could move forward."
All of this hot mess is why WPU has been so disappointed with the pitifully inadequate law enforcement effort of NYS AG Schneiderman. As a result of the lack of any sanctions for the illegal lobbying done by EDC and the Shulman LDC, the fraud and featherbedding has been allowed to continue-something that would not have been allowed to occur if there had been a real law enforcement action by a serious investigative agency.