Wednesday, August 26, 2009

City Hall's Odor

What in the good Lord's name is Mike Bloomberg doing-contradicting his own spokesman, not to mention the city's economic development agency. As the Iron Triangle Tracker reports (citing the Queens Ledger): "Bloomberg blasted a New York Times article published last week that suggested a group led by former Borough President Claire Shulman illegally lobbied city officials on behalf of the Bloomberg administration."

So, what did the Times get wrong here? "Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed Monday accusations the city used public funds to form a group headed by former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman to lobby on its behalf during the administration’s battle to push through the massive Willets Point redevelopment project. “It’s a cheap shot at Claire Shulman, who has dedicated her life to this city,” Bloomberg said during an interview with reporters and editors from the Community Newspaper Group, Times Ledger Newspapers’ parent company."

Now Shulman's group, a bogus LDC that was set up for one thing, and one thing only-to lobbby the city with the city's own money-was assessed the largest lobbying fine in the city's history; and the Times reporting of the fine is certainly no cheap shot. But check out the mayor's take on the lobbying activity itself.

As the ITT tells us: "These groups are designed to lobby,” Bloomberg continued. “I don’t know if they technically broke the law.” Well, someone should know-and why not the city's chief executive whose acumen in management is desperately needed for an additional four year term?
And, if the lobbying isn't legal, than the city is directly in collusion with the LDC and the potential developers who forked their money over to the "lobbying" group in the hopes of scoring a bonanza in the hereafter.

But remember what the mayor's spokesman originally told the Times: "Andrew Brent, a Bloomberg spokesman, pointed to a letter Mr. Doctoroff sent Ms. Shulman three weeks after their first meeting. It outlined the goals of her group, including conducting and leading “outreach, public relations and marketing efforts” to support the proposed redevelopment in Willets Point, but it never mentioned lobbying elected officials."

Which brings us back to one of the central issues in this controversy-one that symbolizes all that's wrong with Special Interest Bloomberg. What is the city doing creating and funding-with the tax payer's dime-astro turf groups that are working to displace existing small businesses in favor of large real estate developers? Bloomberg may not be technically beholden to these groups-he doesn't have to be-but, instead, embodies their ethos and willing does their bidding at the expense of the less powerful.

The whole affair frankly is redolent with corruption; and the fact that the traffic issues and the Van Wyck off-ramp question may make the entire redevelopment moot, only odds to the smell her. When Mike Bloomberg looks out at Willets Point he undoubtedly sees an eyesore-one that is putrescence in his eyes. As a result of his actions, however, it isn't the Point emitting the odor-what's smelling is a stench wafting straight out of City Hall.