Reliable sources say that Queens Community Board 7 – whose Building and Zoning Committee voted last week 7-2 to deny the Willets West mall/Willets Point ULURP application – has contacted members of that committee and instructed them to set aside time beginning at 5:30PM this afternoon, Monday, May 13, in case the committee needs to convene again for an emergency meeting prior to the CB7 public hearing to be held tonight at 7:00PM.
If such an emergency committee meeting occurs, it can only mean one thing: That powers-that-be do not accept last Wednesday's "No" vote to deny the Willets West mall/Willets Point application, and want a last-ditch opportunity to strong-arm the committee into re-voting to approve the application with "conditions" prior to the start of the public hearing. The seeds for this were planted during last Wednesday's committee meeting, when board members who voted in the minority discussed with committee Chair Chuck Apelian the possibility of continuing discussions with the City and the developers, and possibly re-convening the committee prior to Monday's public hearing.
Last Wednesday's vote was duly taken after the committee had convened four separate times for a total of roughly 13 hours, during which the City and the developers had carte blanche to present whatever information they wished in support of the project. Having heard everything, the committee then voted to deny the application. If the committee does convene again on Monday, the application certainly will be unchanged, so there would seem to be no legitimate basis to solicit a re-vote, when a vote has already been taken. Doing so anyway would be just another example of project proponents stopping at nothing, as they have done before, to shamelessly push this Bloomberg legacy project.
With the CB7 committee having done its duty and made its decision, why should there be any interest in facilitating a reversal? Well, you should all know that Harry Giannoulis, a lobbyist for the Parkside Group (as well as former TLC Commissioner), has had private discussions with Chuck Apelian after committee meetings regarding Willets Point. Interestingly, neither Wachtel, Masyr & Missry, LLP nor Parkside have listed Community Board 7 as a lobbying target as required by law. This document shows that people who lobby community boards must register as lobbyists. And once registered, the requirement is to disclose the "targets" of the lobbying on the periodic reports, which are filed 6 times per year. Check Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC's 2008 reports to see correct disclosure of "targets", including Apelian and Kelty. If Parkside is lobbying CB7, then everyone is entitled to an honest disclosure of that fact -- not more concealment, as Claire Shulman did during 2008. (Shulman's records were audited and corrected after Willets Point United shed light on her shenanigans.)
In addition, I have been informed by multiple CB7 members that there have been a series of clandestine meetings between a lot of them and Parkside lobbyists at the North Flushing Senior Center, a non-profit founded and funded by late State Senator Leonard and current State Senator Toby Stavisky, parents of Parkside co-founder Evan Stavisky. Hello, conflict of interest?
If this isn't enough proof that the EDC, Parkside and the Wilpons are cooking something up behind the scenes, then how about this: The Real Deal posted an accurate story on their website last Friday about the outcome of last Wednesday's CB7 committee vote, and then the next day deleted it and replaced it with a line of B.S. from "a spokesperson for the project" stating that the CB7 committee "voted to not vote" and did not vote on the project itself, which is patently false. A CB7 member rebutted the ridiculous assertion in the article's comments section and now The Real Deal has egg on its face.
I guess the bottom line here is that last week's vote seemed too good to be true...and we'll find out tonight if it was.
Prediction: Either there will be a hastily called committee meeting prior to the full board meeting to discuss conditions for voting yes, or Chuck Apelian will pull a list out of his pocket after the public hearing and make a motion to vote yes on them. The latter would be in blatant violation of the Open Meetings Law, but that never stopped him before.
With all this crap going on it begs the question:
WHERE THE HELL IS THE FBI????
I'll allow the project opponents to have the last word: