Sunday, September 8, 2013

NY League of Conservation Voters: It’s worse than what we said

We made a mistake in our original post - and the mistake actually exacerbates our critique of Marcia Bysytryn and LCV. In our original criticism below, we said that, “So, no one should be surprised that two of our city’s leading environmental groups - organizations who were duped into supporting the original Willets Point plan, have nothing to say about the new iteration - a mall built on parkland! Hard to believe this kind of dollars induced lockjaw.”

Not true, as it turns out because it now seems true that when you buy the League, you own it lock, stock, and barrel. We have been told that the League actually testified in favor of the mall and the parking lot to be built on parkland. But even if it didn’t, League president Marcia Bystryn penned an effusive, and misleading, Op-ed in support of the development in the spring:
The time has come to transform Willets Point from a toxic wasteland into an environmentally conscious, 21st century community.
In an area that is clamoring for open space and recreational opportunities, the cleanup and redevelopment of Willets Point means that the waterfront on Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay will finally become safe and accessible to the community.”
Bystryn said this by way of a critique of housing advocates who denied that there was widespread contamination-apparently avoiding their concerns that the promise of affordable housing has been shelved for, chorus please, a huge mall and a parking lot. There is no other certainty here other than that the Mets and partners will receive a windfall courtesy of the tax payers.

As for the contamination, shouldn’t we rely on science rather than the developer driven hyperbole that is being passed off as such? After all, we are giving Related/Sterling Equities upwards of $400 million without really knowing the levels of contamination at the Iron Triangle. If those levels are lower than asserted by EDC, than the idea of handing over property for nothing loses a bit of luster, doesn’t it?

Bystryn goes to great mendacious lengths in her shilling on behalf of her patron-and no one should take a single word she says seriously until she returns every single dime that the mayor has given her organization.  And she should publicly state how much she has been given by her generous benefactor. This is what is known in the bribery business as a quid pro quo.

What is truly disgusting, however, is her use of mayoral talking points to eviscerate any pretense that her organization has to speak on behalf of the environment. Her are the Orwellian comments:
This is also a great opportunity to redesign Willets Point in a smarter and more holistic manner. Willets Point is close to the No. 7 train, so people can leave their cars at home more often. And it’s near major highways, meaning that people can get in and out of the neighborhood quickly without further straining traffic in downtown Flushing. The development will also create approximately 12,000 construction jobs and 7,100 permanent jobs, as well as lead to a $3 billion private investment.”

Is Bystryn really serious? Does she not know that the 7 Line is already at overcrowding and that the mall-sans the Van Wyck ramps-will crush the daily commute with tens of thousands of car and truck trips a week? This will definitely not mean that, “people can get in and out of the neighborhood quickly without further straining traffic in downtown Flushing.”

Getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments apparently makes the idea of any real environmental due diligence a silly and quaint notion. The reality here is that the “holistic” planning that the League applauds is being done at the expense of actual property owners who don’t want the city to steal their land from under them. That it also is being done at the expense of the environment is something that a truly independent environmental organization would have little trouble recognizing.