Tuesday, May 16, 2006

BTM Merchants Win!

In what amounts to the ultimate irony a judge ruled yesterday that a bidding process that awarded a Hunts Point site to Baldor's Foods was invalid because the city had in essence rigged the bid in favor of Baldor's in order to solve its political snafu with the BTM merchants. So the merchants who fought long and hard, yet unsuccessfully, to remain in the BTM now get to be the source of at least one legal victory.

As the NY Sun reports this morning Randy Mastro, the lawyer for the Hunts Point Produce Cooperative, had argued that the whole bid process was a sham: "The city conducted a sham competition, when it had in mind all along that it wanted to steer the property to Baldor." Now we have no doubt that the process was rigged, just as the awarding of the BTM site was to Related, yet we seriously doubt that the reason for the collusion was the plight of the BTM merchants, as much as our agreement with the premise would credit the work that the Alliance did on the merchants behalf.

To agree would be to acknowledge that the city at any point gave a tinker's dam about the plight of the merchants. The reality is it never did and EDC was upfront about its lack of concern. We believe that the "offer" of the abandoned Baldor's site was strictly an afterthought since the city never had any prior discussions with the merchants prior to the Baldor's relocation announcement.

That is why the comment by merchant rep Stanley Mayer in the NY Times this morning is right on point. "Mr. Mayer said that almost all the merchants knew where they were going but none of them planned to move to the Baldor's building. 'It's beyond ironic,' he said."

Hats off, however, to Mastro and to Judge Lucy Adams Billings who saw the collusion and moved to put a stop to it. Maybe Judge Cahn should take a new look at his travesty of a legal ruling that ceded the BTM to Related. There's as much chance of that happening as finding Judge Crater.