Letter to the Editor (Queens Tribune):
In his campaign kickoff for the City Council 19th District, Paul Vallone correctly points out the importance of small businesses. (The Race for District 19 Heats Up - Queens Tribune Jan. 10-16). If Mr. Vallone wished to be taken as a serious candidate, not simply predicated upon nepotism, he is challenged to state publicly here and now his position on the following important Queens issues:
First, Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not believe small business is the backbone of our economy and has made it clear his true constituency is real estate moguls and big business. He has no interest in the poor, the middle class and small business. His ill advised Willets Point proposal, which would destroy over 200 small businesses and the livelihood of thousands of workers and their families, is a case in point. While initially portrayed as including some affordable housing, Bloomberg has engaged in an unparalleled lack of transparency and finagling for which he should be ashamed. Housing, if any, will not occur if at all until 2025. Instead he now plans to allow the Mets to vacate its parking lot, which incidentally is on parkland, and arrange for parking in Willets Point, where his initial proposal will not take place for many years. On the current Mets parking lot, the Mets will construct with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and subsidies, a shopping mall, so much for the all the small businesses on Northern Boulevard and the mall on 20th Avenue in Whitestone. Mr. Vallone should make it clear where he stands on Willets Point. Will he stand up for the small businesses and the poor and the middle class or will he go the way of Bloomberg? This issue is still open and the small businesses can still be preserved.
Second, eminent domain has traditionally been used by government for a public purpose. That concept has been wrongfully skewered by using it for strictly commercial purposes. Many municipalities have enacted legislation prohibiting the taking for commercial purposes, but not New York City. Condemnation never impacts upon the wealthy, only the poor and the middle class, for example Willets Point. Indeed in the case of Willets Point the Mayor's argument - the area was a blight - was a sham because it was the city's neglect that caused the blight which could have been repaired if the city used the tax dollars it extracted from the area to maintain it properly. Will Mr. Vallone seek legislation to prohibit condemnation for private for-profit businesses and never when it is the City that causes the claimed blight?
Third, it is the poor and the middle class that do not have homes in the Hamptons and need full use of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Will Mr. Vallone step and help to prevent the ongoing prostitution of this much needed park and oppose the MLS in the park and the further expansion of the USTA in the park, and make it clear once and for all enough is enough, no more intrusions in the park?
Mr. Vallone, the public awaits your answers.
Benjamin M. Haber,