The New York City Economic Development Corporation has, at the insistence of Judge Kahn, responded to the alternative sites proposed by Professor Fainstein by essentially telling the BTM merchant to drop dead. In mind boggling fashion, ignoring all of the public attention focused on the need to preserve the market, EDC “senior counsel” Terri Feinstein Sasanow, has simply reiterated the original position of the city: “Here’s a few dollars to get out of town. Take it or leave it.”
What’s incredible here is that the city has not seen it necessary to find a solution for the BTM in the face of a corrupt deal that is the closest thing possible to the theft of city property. The Sasanow letter is dripping with an arrogant disregard for fairness and an equally arrogant disregard for the truth.
Sasanow says that “EDC will not consider construction of a new market” and erroneously argues that unlike with the Fulton Fish Market, “the city is not the landlords of the tenants at the BTM and has no obligation to provide relocation for them.” But Terri the city is indeed the landlord and in its landlord capacity brokered the deal that brought Related into the market.
Moral Obligation as Well
Aside from legal obligations, however, there is a moral obligation of a city that has housed this market for over 80 years and, in that period of time, through malfeasance and nonfeasance, has allowed the property to be despoiled. Adding insult to injury, the city has seen fit to elevate the despoiler Buntzman to the status of co-developer of the Gateway project.
Minority Business Take a Hike
Nowhere in the Sasanow letter is there an acknowledgement that the city’s commitment to the Gateway Center, with all of the sweetheart grease possible, should create an equal commitment to those mostly minority businesses that are the linchpin of a new immigrant food distribution network. Maybe, as the mayor’s political commercials suggest, the city will create an investment fund for all those small businesses that Bloomberg’s New York has no use for as it cedes its property to cronies of Deputy Mayor Doctoroff.
As the letter goes on to state, EDC is unwilling to do anything outside of its typically bogus incentive programs that are open to any knucklehead looking to build in the city. So here’s the picture: Friends of the deputy mayor get a whole package of extraordinary emoluments that end up with the city finally – after years – getting around $2 a square foot while those being displaced are thrown into the assigned risk pool of deadbeats and skells.
There is a constant reference to the Cornerstone Group as the city’s relocation expert. Still? Doesn’t our “senior counsel” realize that these dopey consultants had labored long and hard Xeroxing advertisements from the local newspapers and passed off this effort as relocation (of course she does, she just doesn’t give a damn)?
Challenge to the Bronx
The EDC Letter is the ultimate gauntlet. As Sasanow concludes, “If you and your clients want EDC’s help, you and they must be ready to be realistic about what EDC can and will do.” She misspeaks here because there is no logical connection between the “can” and the “will.” Because without any political will there is no way that this controversy can be resolved.
It now becomes incumbent on Chairman Rivera and the Bronx delegation to act. This Gateway scandal needs to be confronted head on if the merchants are to receive a fair deal. The political leverage belongs to the City Council if and when they choose to use it. Make no mistake about it. If Gateway itself is threatened watch how fast ‘can” and will” are made to fit comfortably in the same sentence.