Sunday, April 7, 2019

Melinda Katz vows crackdown on construction sites while conflicted with developer campaign donations

The City

When Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced her candidacy for district attorney in December, she sought to stand out as an advocate for workers injured or ripped off on the job – especially on construction sites.

“Developers and construction companies will be held accountable if they fail to follow the law and keep their workers safe,” reads a Katz for DA campaign platform in which she promised to assign an investigator to every workplace accident that results in serious injury.

That hasn’t deterred real estate developers from donating to her campaign, leading up to a likely decisive June 25 Democratic primary vote in the race to succeed longtime Queens DA Richard Brown.

Katz’s fundraising filings with the state Board of Elections show that more than $250,000 of the roughly $1 million her two campaign funds had collected through Jan. 11 came from real estate developers and other industry interests. That makes her the seven-way contest’s top recipient so far of real estate-related contributions.

Her donors represent a who’s who of New York City real estate – including David Walentas of Two Trees Management, Winston Fisher of Fisher Brothers and John Catsimatidis of the Red Apple Group.

The earliest contributions, dating back to January 2018, went to a committee Katz established to run for an unspecified citywide office in 2021. Funds were later transferred to her DA race committee, the Katz campaign confirmed.

Some of those donors have supported Katz for years, including in her two runs for Queens borough president, a seat she’s held since 2014. Borough presidents give advisory recommendations on developers’ land use applications.

And as a Council member from 2002 to 2009, Katz served as chair of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, which casts decisive votes on such applications.

In between those elected positions, she worked as a lobbyist with the law firm Greenberg Traurig. Among her clients was a company associated with Forest Hills-based Muss Development. Principal Joshua Muss and an associated firm have donated $5,400 to Katz campaign funds since 2018, and Muss family members donated nearly $14,000 to past campaigns.

Katz told THE CITY she will “absolutely” prosecute developers who are at fault, and not just contractors implicated in construction fatalities or injuries.

“You have to make an atmosphere in the development world where rushing is no longer an excuse,” said Katz, 53. “You want to make sure that they understand that the atmosphere of Queens is changing.”


Gino said...

No conflict but business as usual.
Crackdowns & violations has always been the case when you don't leave $100 bills in old envelopes for inspectors to find.

Everybody who needs to get something done pays that special tax, its the most corrupt city on the planet. From getting cement & building supplies delivered all the way up to the mayor

Anonymous said...

Real estate developers donate to EVERYONE's campaign. They're equal opportunity corrupters.

TommyR said...

“When you run for office you are soliciting and developing relationships with a wide range of people and it is inevitable that one of them at some point in their lives is going to get themselves in trouble or be a defendant in a case that you’re prosecuting,” he said.

Lancman, added: “I’m going to raise as much money as I can within what the law allows.” The donation limit for the primary is roughly $38,000.

Anonymous said...

She'll win. Queens voters are catatonic!

Anonymous said...

Why is Catsimatidis donating to her? He is a Republican, I believe, and she is a Democrat?

Why is she running for Queens DA? Where has it ever been reported that she has expertise in the criminal law?

Why is she holding fund raisers in Mafia run Barosa restaurant? Isn't that a conflict of interest?

What would Curtis Sliwa say?

She is for closing Riker's Island. Why? Let's have jails in all out neighborhoods.

Her liberal pandering is ruining this city. We're tired of it.

She pushed for the dismantling of the sculpture at Borough Hall on the ground that it was belittling to women. It was a work of art for crying out loud. Why not take the story of Adam and Eve out of the Bible, since Eve induced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit?

You'd have to be brain dead to vote for her for District Attorney. But doesn't that describe most of the voters in Queens County?