Friday, October 14, 2011
State electeds helping Shulman steal the Flushing waterfront
From the Wall Street Journal:
The New York State Department of State awarded a Queens development group a $1.5 million grant, despite a continuing investigation by the Attorney General into allegations that the group conducted an extensive lobbying effort in violation of state law.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office said last month it couldn't block the grant because the comptroller's office couldn't confirm the Attorney General is investigating the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp., a group led by former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.
It was unclear why the comptroller's office was unable to determine the status of the investigation. Danny Kanner, a spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the probe remains active, but declined to comment further.
In 2009, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was attorney general, his office launched an investigation into whether Ms. Shulman's group violated state law by lobbying in support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plans to redevelop a dilapidated tract of Queens known as Willets Point. Ms. Shulman's group has denied any wrongdoing.
Willets Point, a 62-acre area adjacent to Flushing Meadows Park and Citi Field, lacks paved roads or sewers and is dotted with auto-repair shops and junkyards. The mayor's plan, approved by the City Council in 2008, calls for a massive cleanup and the creation of 5,500 housing units and eight acres of parks and playgrounds.
Last year, some Willets Point property owners who oppose Mr. Bloomberg's plans for the area complained that Mr. Cuomo was dragging his feet on the investigation. Now, these property owners, who belong to a group called Willets Point United, are outraged that the state is awarding taxpayer money to Ms. Shulman's group in the midst of the ongoing investigation.
Internal emails between the comptroller's office and the Department of State—reviewed this week by the Journal—showed that officials at the comptroller's office were concerned that the attorney general's investigation may find that Ms. Shulman's group violated state law.
But the two agencies failed to get any confirmation about the existence of the attorney general's probe.
Earlier this year, the Department of State received a final green light from the comptroller's office to move forward with the $1.5 million grant to Ms. Shulman's group. The grant is for Ms. Shulman's group to come up with a development proposal for a 60-acre area with 32 potential brownfield sites along the Flushing River waterfront.
Ms. Shulman's group is using the grant money to hire a consultant. The group has invited the public to attend on Tuesday a public meeting about the redevelopment plans at Flushing Town Hall.
"We're going full steam ahead on this project," Ms. Shulman said in an interview.
I TOLD YOU ABOUT THIS SCHEME MORE THAN A YEAR AGO.
If you know anyone affiliated with property or a business across the Flushing River from Willets Point in the area targeted by Shulman's LDC (between Northern and Roosevelt), make sure they know that Shulman's LDC is holding an open house meeting at the Flushing Town Hall on Tuesday October 18 from 4 - 8 PM, to provide information about the LDC's brownfield program. The LDC's web page on this topic, linked below, does not reveal the threat that this project poses to property and business owners. Looking at the provided materials, you would not know that the LDC intends to redevelop the entire 60 acres. The LDC's web site contains an innocent-looking map of the area and the existing uses; but does not publish the information within the LDC's grant application which shows each block and lot is already predetermined by the LDC to be a brownfield or underutilized – which as we know, are precursors to eminent domain. Spread the word. Here's the link.