The City Planning Commission has bent its rules to accommodate immediate proxy testimony in favor of the proposed Willets Point development, while enforcing its rules and delaying proxy testimony in opposition to the proposed development.
At the public hearing pertaining to the proposed Willets Point development held on August 13, 2008 – during a section of that hearing dedicated to testimony in opposition to the proposed project – the name "Kevin Loyst" was called to testify. In place of Kevin Loyst, a person named Kevin Phillips came to the podium, identified himself, and stated that he was "here to speak on behalf of Kevin Loyst, who's a colleague" who had to depart the hearing after several hours.
Commission Chair Amanda Burden prohibited Kevin Phillips from testifying at that time as a proxy for Kevin Loyst, telling Phillips in no uncertain terms: "You have to sign up on your own. It's a rule, we have to do – You can't substitute for somebody else. Sorry. So if you just sign up on your own. … Just sign up on a new card. You have to sign up for yourself. You can't substitute for somebody else. … We will definitely call you, later."
Kevin Phillips then left the podium, and the Commission called a different speaker.
We would have expected consistent enforcement of the Commission's rules at the public hearing recently held on July 10, 2013, when – during a section of the hearing dedicated to testimony in favor of the application – the name "Dan Hendrick" was called to testify, and an unidentified person who was not Dan Hendrick came to the podium. The unidentified person stated that he was "actually here on behalf of Dan Hendrick, who is the V.P. for the New York League of Conservation Voters".
Neither Commission Chair Amanda Burden nor any other Commission member stopped this unidentified person from testifying "on behalf of Dan Hendrick", or enforced the Commission's strict rules that "you have to sign up for yourself" and "you can't substitute for somebody else". The unidentified person proceeded to deliver testimony as a proxy for the absent Dan Hendrick, in favor of the application.
The Commission has treated unequally those who would provide proxy testimony opposed to the Willets Point development, versus those who would provide proxy testimony in favor of the Willets Point development. Kevin Phillips, who was opposed, was relegated to filling out a new speaker's card and beginning the long wait to testify, again; whereas the unidentified person who appeared on July 10, 2013, who was in favor of the application, was welcomed and testified immediately.
The land use ULURP process must be neutral and devoid of any such bias. It is no less appropriate that a proxy speaker in favor of the Willets Point development be given a special privilege, than it is that the City should fund an unlawful lobbying scheme to influence decision-makers to approve the project. Both of those tactics, and many others, have been leveraged by powers-that-be against Willets Point property and business owners – and the WPU membership will not tolerate it.