From the NY Post:
"Unfortunately, many Italian-Americans in my district get painted with a very broad brush," [Halloran] said during a closed-door meeting last month with concerned civic groups.
He conceded Franco, a construction and catering entrepreneur, may "know people."
What Halloran didn't say was that Franco, 58, a Flushing native, was fingered as a soldier in the Gambino crime family by the FBI in a 1998 hearing about his brother, Salvatore, a former asphalt workers' union president.
Their late uncle, Giuseppe "Joe" Arcuri, was a mob captain who helped run the family while godfather John Gotti was in jail, testified former agent Bruce Mouw, who led the FBI's Gambino squad.
Franco is "a Gambino soldier for the rest of his life," insisted a law-enforcement source who said Franco is more involved in white-collar high jinks than any thuggery.
Sid Davidoff, Franco's lawyer, said his client is no gangster and has "never been accused of anything, including a parking ticket."
But the reputation of Franco's previous joint, Caffe on the Green in Bayside, isn't so savory.
In 1992, Franco won the Parks Department concession to run the restaurant in a historic Queens mansion on the edge of Clearview Park. Ten years later, a patron was shot there in an apparent mob rubout attempt. In 2003, an alleged wiseguy and his wife were charged with a hate crime after attacking an Asian woman there.
In 2008, an audit by the city comptroller found that Franco cheated the city out of more than $120,000 in proceeds from tips and party deposits.
The city stripped Franco of his contract, but he never paid up the missing funds, said mayoral spokesman Jason Post.
From the Queens Chronicle:
Opposition to expansion plans for the White House restaurant in Whitestone is growing, with area residents saying they were deliberately misled that the application was going to be withdrawn. But who did the misleading?
Following approval earlier this month by Community Board 7 on the plan to upzone the area surrounding the restaurant at 10-24 154 St., the proposal went on to the Borough President’s Office. The hearing was last Thursday, but the evening before members of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association were erroneously notified that the developer was pulling the application.
Marlene Cody, a vice president of the civic group, said she was told by a staff member of Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) that he was notified by the developer’s attorney, Steve Sinacori, that the plan was off the table. “We had a lot less people go to the borough president’s hearing because of it,” Cody said. “I feel he [Sinacori] lied.”
The attorney denied the charge.
Halloran’s spokesman, Steven Stites, said Monday that the councilman expected the plan to be pulled and was just as surprised as residents to find out it wasn’t.
But on Tuesday Stites said that there was more to the issue and asked that Halloran elaborate. In a telephone interview, the councilman called it a miscommunication with the civic association. “They misunderstood my message,” he said.
Halloran said he told members at a meeting last week that he wanted the item pulled from the borough calendar this month, but found out later it was too late. “I told them that they don’t need to go in droves to the borough president’s hearing because even if she approves it, I won’t as the sitting councilman for the area,” he said. “I promised them that I would remove the two houses on the block for the upzoning. I gave them my word that the council member carries the day.”
From the Queens Ledger:
In his letter, Halloran wrote that he still supports the redevelopment of the restaurant site but won't vote for the project in its current state.
“To reiterate, I support the redevelopment of the White House Restaurant site, but I do not support, and will not vote for, the rezoning of the residential properties located on this block,” read the letter.
In an interview, Halloran said that he still believes that the best way to accomplish that is by upzoning the site. Opponents of the project have suggested that rather than upzoning the property the owner should apply for a variance, but Halloran argued that would put too much oversight in the hands of the Board of Standards and Appeals, which would make the final decision.
“At least with an upzoning there would be a greater degree of control,” said Halloran, referring to the fact that the City Council would make the call on any rezoning.
But Paul Graziano, an independent urban planning consultant, said that in most cases a variance offers greater certainties that a rezoning can't guarantee.
“With a variance, the developer can't deviate from the terms of the variance,” he said. "However, with a rezoning it doesn't matter what plans have been shown to the community, after the rezoning a developer can do whatever they want, as long as it is by law."
Photo from the Daily News