Monday, January 30, 2006

Close the Gateway

In yesterday's Daily News Albor Ruiz eloquently presents that case against the Gateway Mall. The money quote: "It is ironic that the livelihoods of 23 hardworking wholesale merchants and hundreds of their employees are being sacrificed so that Steve Ross, the head of the Related Companies, can make a few more millions."

The irony, however, doesn't stop there. Related, as the News pointed out yesterday, is a company with over $10 billion worth of assets and in spite of its wealth received a $600,000 ESDC grant that should have been earmarked for small businesses. It would seem that Related makes a habit of self-aggrandizement at the expense of the little guys.

We're back then to the issue of integrity of government and this issue transcends the mayor's concern (and that of the NY Times) about lobbyists buying gifts for elected officials. When a company as well-connected as Related is allowed to gain control of real estate worth billions of dollars without the normal bidding process someone should be concerned enough to examine the integrity of the transaction.

We believe that if Stanley Friedman and Donald Manes did this deal the US Attorney would have investigated long ago and indictments would have already been handed down. Does the fact that the players here are already super-rich alter peoples' outlook?

Isn't it time for the City Council to jettison this deal and open up its own conflict of interest investigation since the city's COIB doesn't have a clue? Where are all the anti-labor folks whose view of what constitutes a conflict is limited to the political influence of the city's unions? We've never seen a bigger bunch of toadies and sycophants and a more transparent "mobilization of bias." Come on Madam Speaker shed some light on this stench and hold the rich boys accountable.