Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Booty Capitalist in the Bronx

One thing we haven’t mentioned about yesterday’s Bronx Terminal Market hearing was that Ann Lindsey, a consultant for the 161st Merchant’s Association, testified on behalf of the group in favor of Related’s Gateway development. This show of support is suspect for a couple of reasons.

In our 25 years of working with merchant associations, never has one testified in favor of a nearby, mega-development. Sometimes the small business group may not weigh in at all but generally they express considerable concerns with projects that are not only heavily subsidized but will negatively impact on their members. Why then did Ms. Lindsey, a purported representative of the mom and pop shops on 161st street, heap praise on a plan that would displace the small businesses at the Terminal Market, contain big box stores and would, to say it charitably, have little positive affect on her members.

Well after talking to Pat Canale, president of the 161st Merchant’s Association, the answer becomes clear. Lindsey, despite her claims, was not representing the viewpoint of the association but pushing her own personal agenda. According to Canale, he asked his pro-bono consultant not come to yesterday’s hearing because the Association has not voted one way or the other on Related’s proposal. Despite this request, Lindsey not only showed up but misrepresented herself to the council and submitted a letter full of praise for the proposed redevelopment.

According to another source, Lindsey has been in constant contact with the Related Companies and had a meeting with them as recently as this past Friday. It’s obvious that instead of representing the interests of small businesses she’s become the developer’s puppet, making it seem like there is local support for the Gateway proposal. This type of booty capitalism isn’t surprising but the Council should know that Ms. Lindsey speaks only for herself and that her machinations are inspired by the puppetmaster Related.