Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pointedly Clueless

The rubber stamp had its first hearing on the Willets Point redevelopment plan yesterday, and opponents and proponents had dueling press conferences that were marked by emotional outbursts and some spirited byplay. As the NY Times reports today: "Supporters and foes of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to turn gritty Willets Point in Queens into a $3 billion development of stores, offices and apartments faced off Wednesday in a confrontation that grew emotional and raucous at times. The City Council must decide this fall whether to approve the rezoning plan, which would require the removal of more than 200 small businesses, including auto-body shops and industrial outlets."

Perhaps the funniest comments came from the mayor, who told the NY Sun the following: "And I might point out that there's almost nobody that signed that letter, almost nobody, from Queens. They were from other places where perhaps they are getting support from real estate interests who just want to be able to be in a position to hold up the city," Mr. Bloomberg said." As the Times points out, however: "The mayor said that of the council members who signed the letter, “there was nobody or almost nobody from Queens.” In fact, 8 of the 14 members from Queens signed it."

So, the nefarious real estate interests, you know the ones that Mayor Mike has been aggrandizing for almost seven years, have all of a sudden been transformed into anti-development obstructionists in the mayor's mind. Quite droll, don't you think? And what's up with Bloomberg's counting problem?

Now maybe the project will be approved; the mayor does still have one important ally at the council. But things are by no means certain in this regard-and the defeat of the Willets Point plan would put Monseratte up in the pantheon of giant killers. The West Side Stadium and congestion pricing were, after all, killed by the powerful speaker of the assembly. Hiram only has his good looks and charm, and he's on the brink of joining Shelly.