Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flake's Trojan Wal-Mart Horse

Overlooked in the controversy surrounding the Aqueduct deal-and the role of Reverend Floyd Flake-is the coveted 200 acres outside of the Racino itself. As Crain's points out, however, the good reverend hasn't lost his deft touch, and knows that those are God's little 200 acres: "The shadow being cast over his reputation by his Aqueduct involvement makes Mr. Flake angry, and he finds it ironic. “I am at best the most minor party [in AEG],” he says, sitting in his well-appointed second-floor office at the Allen church. His stake in AEG amounts to 0.6%, worth a mere $625,000 (no money has yet changed hands—the deal is still pending), and he insists his role is strictly limited to consulting on community affairs and affordable housing. In fact, Mr. Flake, who says he doesn't gamble himself, isn't interested in Aqueduct's 4,500 slot machines but in its 200 acres of land. “It is one of the few last opportunities in my mind to build homes and provide jobs to my community,” says Mr. Flake. “That is what I have done all these years.”

One of the last great opportunities for this good old fashioned booty capitalist-a true heir to the legacy of Reverend Ike: "“He knows how to navigate the city and state government,” says Patrick Jenkins, a Democratic consultant. “It gives him a leg up over some other developers.” Today, the pastor oversees a congregation with an annual budget of $12 million, as well as the Greater Allen Development Corp., an umbrella for 15 nonprofit and for-profit entities that builds housing, manages commercial properties and operates other community services in the area."

Yes Flake, "The Great Navigator," and as we pointed out a number of years ago, ready, villain and able to do business with the Walmonster. And if the land in question can be made exempt to the city's ULURP process, well, you get the picture. We will have a replication of Wal-Mart on the West Side of Chicago where another booty capitalist is fronting for the giant retailer.

Is it any wonder that Flake has endorsed every Republican incumbent he can? Not when he's negotiating for his own little empire. Here' a classic example of how a man of the cloth has been diverted from his spiritual mission. Imagine, a minister who actually promotes gambling.

And then there's Flake's alter ego Ed Reed: "Harder to explain are his ties with Edwin Reed, a longtime employee of the Allen church and its development company who stands accused of being linked to New Direction. “Reed has been close to Flake since being his congressional chief of staff,” says Mr. Boehm. “Everything you do ends up being related to the person you're serving.” Mr. Flake argues that with an operation the size of Allen church, he didn't keep track of Mr. Reed." “I don't know what he does outside,” says Mr. Flake. “I am not a micromanager.”

Well Jiminy Cricket he's not, that's for sure. But Reed has been fronting for Flake since we can remember-why else did the Port Authority hire him as its "community consultant" when the Air Train project was wending its way forward-against the wishes of hundreds of aggrieved African-American homeowners?

So, aside from all of the questions about how the AEG bid was let, we add the issue of what the Flakes are gonna do with those two hundred acres-the real local prize that hasn't been given the same kind of scrutiny as the governor's ADD-style decision making. Is there a Wal-Mart in Southeast Queens' future?