Monday, September 16, 2013

Will Bill de Blasio Really Fight NYC’s Permanent Government?

For those of you who got carried away with all of the hope and change rhetoric in 2008-only to be gob smacked by the continuation of the anti-terror policies of George Bush-please be on your toes for the expected mayoral reign of Bill de Blasio, another elected official who we believe understands Machiavelli’s dictum that it’s better to appear good than to be good. All of de Blasio’s populist campaigning may only be part of a bait and switch that, at least when it comes to real estate, will simply be a continuation of the three terms of Mike Bloomberg. As Crain’s reports:
“It wasn't just the Afro that put Bill de Blasio over the top. The impressive hair of his son, Dante, featured in the Democratic primary's most memorable campaign commercial, was certainly a factor. But campaign cash from deep-pocketed industries that have nurtured Mr. de Blasio's rise in politics over the years ultimately helped the public advocate emerge as the favorite to become mayor.
But it isn’t only the cash that should make us leery. Daniel Goldstein is someone who should know:
“Critics say that despite his anti-Bloomberg campaign theme, Mr. de Blasio represents continuity with the mayor's pro-development agenda. "He was the same as Bloomberg, at least while he was in the City Council," said Daniel Goldstein, a community activist who battled Atlantic Yards for a decade.
On that project, Mr. de Blasio helped hammer out a community-benefits agreement with Forest City Ratner calling for union construction jobs and 2,000 units of affordable housing, none of which has been built. Forest City Executive Vice President Robert Sanna later gathered more than $13,000 in donations 
That is why we have seen the fate of Willets Point as a harbinger of understanding who is the real de Blasio:
“True, the public advocate has spoken harshly about real estate during the campaign. In July, he said, "Last time I checked, it wasn't the real estate industry's town and we were just living in it." And at his victory party after the Sept. 10 primary, Mr. de Blasio decried "luxury condos" replacing "community hospitals." He has pledged to require developers to include affordable housing in their projects.
But he has raised almost $300,000 from the industry—about 9% of his total—and his history reflects a more conciliatory approach to it. He bucked local opposition in Brooklyn to support the Atlantic Yards project, a Toll Brothers luxury-apartment plan along the Gowanus Canal and high-end condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

What has been wrong with Mike Bloomberg’s development policies has been the promotion of tax subsidized crony capitalism-is there anyone who sees the good policy sense in the tax subsidized move of Fresh Direct from Queens to the Bronx? As we pointed this July:
For Mike Bloomberg it never gets old to reward his friends and billionaire cronies-and the award of huge subsidies to FreshDirect is just the latest example:
“The city has delivered a sweet deal to FreshDirect. The Industrial Development Agency voted Tuesday in favor of the online grocer's controversial plans to relocate from Long Island City to the Bronx — thanks to $127 million in public subsidies.  
The company has promised to use the money to build its new facility in the South Bronx, convert its truck fleet to green energy, and to hire local workers. A spokesman for FreshDirect told residents the move to Port Morris would create 1,000 new jobs over 10 years, a third of which were promised to go to borough residents.”  
FreshDirect is run by a young man named Jason Ackerman, whose uncle, hedge fund guy Peter Ackerman, is a partner in some of the mayor’s political action ventures. Peter, a former associate of Mike Milken, is naturally a financier like the mayor and the subsidies for his nephew’s company is emblematic of what passes for economic development under the billionaire mayor.” [Crains]
The same pattern is being repeated at Willets Point-with $200 million worth of property simply gifted to Related/Sterling Equities, in spite of the testimony given by Deputy Mayor Lieber to the contrary in 2008. So a kind of gauntlet is being laid down for de Blasio. The fate of the Iron Triangle’s corrupt new deal-absent the important affordable housing that the Public Advocate voted for in the council-hangs in the balance.

If de Blasio speaks out and lets the council know that he opposes this obscene corporate welfare deal, then we will be alerted to the possibility of real change from the last 12 years. On the contrary, if he remains silent, de Blasio will be loudly proclaiming the wisdom of the old French philosophy:

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose