Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Small Business Threatened by Extension

As the NY Post reported on Sunday, the mayor's sought after extension is going over well with the businesses threatened by eminent domain at Willets Point: "THE probable extension of term limits is going to be bad news for those who've clashed with Mayor Bloomberg and were hoping to find a more receptive ear in the next administration. Topping the list of the disappointed would have to be the holdout business owners of Willets Point, the 61-acre industrial site near Shea Stadium that the city wants to turn into a glittering $3 billion hotel, apartment and retail complex."

Indeed so-even if the land use application is killed at the Council next month, a re-elected Mike Bloomberg is unlikely to give up on the site; certainly not after the support he's been getting from the real estate community on term limits. As the Post points out: "But if Bloomberg wins a third, the Willets Point businesspeople would be back where they started - having to deal with a mayor determined to push through the development, even if it means invoking the government's power of eminent domain. "If I were the businesses at Willets Point, I would be very disheartened," one insider said." And don't forget Hiram Monseratte, the project's chief opponent, will be in the state senate next year.

But the mayor's minions are lobbying hard on to get this deal done-and perhaps even breaking the lobbying laws to do it. As the NY Daily News reports: "Rule No. 1 in the lobbyist handbook: Make sure you're registered before taking money to push a controversial city project. A group of Willets Point business owners has filed a complaint against former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, charging she is illegally lobbying on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg and his plan to redevelop the industrial zone. Records show Shulman failed to register as a lobbyist in 2008, though she was on file for 2007."

Oops! We wonder, if this report is true, if the City Clerk will come down as hard on Claire as he did on this poor shlub? So what do the facts look like? "City law defines lobbying as efforts to influence elected officials or the Planning Commission on issues such as zoning or real estate "subject to city regulation." At the Planning Commission hearing on Willets Point in August, Shulman said: "I hope you will strongly consider adding your voices to those people supporting this project." Shulman has vowed to meet every Council member before they vote on the plan next month."

It appears that Shulman, just like Lucy Ricardo, has a lot of "splaining" to do. We can't wait to here what she has to say.