The office of New York City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside) is keeping a lid on its reaction to a planned demonstration by a group of grassroots activists, who are objecting to his refusal to strongly oppose the over-development of real estate, amongst other charges. The group, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, has announced a protest march against over-development, and the protest march is planned to pass in front of Councilmember Van Bramer's District Office in Woodside, Queens. The march is scheduled for the early evening of Thursday, 20 April, according to an event posted on the group's Facebook page. For this report, Councilmember Van Bramer did not answer an interview request made by Progress Queens.
As previously reported by Progress Queens, Councilmember Van Bramer has had meetings with real estate developers, sometimes under the guise of cultural affairs work. Amongst the meetings he has had were with unidentified executives from the development firm Tishman Speyer and with the developer Bruce Ratner. In 2016, Councilmember Van Bramer attended the annual dinner of the Real Estate Board of New York. Information about these meetings were contained in records obtained by Progress Queens as a result of a request made under the State's Freedom of Information Law. According to Government reform activists, Councilmember Van Bramer's entreaties to real estate executives is explained by reports that he is running a campaign to become the next Speaker of the City Council. City Councilmembers seeking to negotiate support for legislative leadership positions attempt to establish close working relationships with real estate developers, who are a source of significant campaign contributions and who direct other elected officials to support preferred candidates for leadership. Candidates for legislative leadership positions are also known to make campaign donations to their peers in exchange for support. The role of money in politics, generally, and the role of large real estate donations, specifically, explains why few zone-busting real estate projects are ever defeated by the community. The last time a community-crushing project was defeated, in part, by community activists was in 2005, when a clash between the competing interests of State and Municipal officials ultimately led to the rejection of the planned West Side stadium supported by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-New York City). The lack of democratic control over major land use issues is the subject of criticism by Government reform activists, and elected officials with close ties to real estate developers have refrained from reforming the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or the ULURP process, the review by which most major real estate projects win approval.