QUEENS CRAP ROVING REPORTER #2: THE QUEENS BOROUGH BOARD MEETING
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall was not feeling well, and as a result she was not present at Monday evening's meeting of the Queens Borough Board. So:
In one of the great New York City ironies, former Parkside lobbyist (and present Deputy Borough President) Barry Grodenchick personally presided over the Queens Borough Board meeting, the agenda of which required the Board to consider the disposition of College Point properties to three Willets Point businesses. This agenda item is in furtherance of NYCEDC's proposed Willets Point redevelopment plan -- a project for which Grodenchik lobbied during 2007, 2008, and 2009 as a representative of Claire Shulman's local development corporation (LDC). Readers may recall that Shulman's LDC ultimately was fined the record sum of $59,090.00 by the Office of the City Clerk for lobbying without registering to do so, thus evading all accountability while the lobbying occurred. Still unresolved is that Shulman's LDC was fundamentally prohibited from engaging in any lobbying (and also from hiring The Parkside Group, LLC to lobby on its behalf), by Section 1411 of the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. It seems that Grodenchik left Parkside's employ at about the same time the record fine became public. He then resurfaced this year as Marshall's new Deputy Borough President.
Given that Grodenchik is a nexus between The Parkside Group, LLC and Claire Shulman -- having served as Shulman's chief of administration from 1991 to 2002 -- Grodenchik should explain his role, if any, in advising Shulman regarding the LDC's own lobbying; the LDC's hiring of Parkside as its additional lobbyist; the lack of timely lobbyist registrations by Shulman's LDC; and the lobbying both done and contracted by Shulman's LDC, despite the clear prohibition on all such lobbying, that is contained within Section 1411 of the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law.
Even better than lobbying in support of an issue is to personally preside over a Board meeting that considers an element of that same issue. This evening, former lobbyist Grodenchik did so. It might be legal, but it does not look good.
In the second-greatest irony, the Borough Board's consideration of the College Point property disposition immediately followed a presentation by the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board, which touched on the notion that a former elected official is obligated to wait a period of time, before offering his or her services as a lobbyist. But evidently, when a former lobbyist such as Barry Grodenchik is hired as a Deputy Borough President, he is permitted to preside over Board meetings that include agenda items that had concerned him last year as a lobbyist.