Friday, April 30, 2010

Diogenes Can Finally Rest

The old Greek philosopher Diogenes was known for his eccentricity: "He became notorious for his provocative behavior and philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. Well, Diogenes can finally rest in his grave because we have found that honest man-the incorruptible Ben Haber of Queens.

Haber, in a letter written to the Flushing Times, Haber takes the paper to task for criticizing us, and the Willets Point businesses, for our opposition to the city's plan to abscond with the property of a whole bunch of small business folks. Haber is acutely aware of the legitimacy of the traffic issues in this development: "One will recall Borough President Helen Marshall thought it was a grand idea to build a New York Jets football stadium in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park — a no-brainer if there ever was one and one that would have destroyed Flushing Meadows as a viable urban park. That Marshall has approved the city’s study of the Willets Point development’s traffic impact, as mentioned in TimesLedger Newspapers’ April 8-14 editorial “Delaying Tactics at Willets Point,” is another no-brainer and all the more reason to have the issue reviewed by a state and federal traffic study."

And Haber goes on to chastise the paper's criticism of our lobbying work-while remaining silent over the city funded lobbying done by Claire Shulman: "While TimesLedger seems unhappy Willets Point businesses have engaged Richard Lipsky to lobby on their behalf, it should be noted TimesLedger seems to have no problem with former Borough President Claire Shulman, who has been lobbying on behalf of the proposed development amid claims she has been doing so with city money."

But Haber comes back to the hot mess of a traffic situation in Queens and understands that the folks won't get an honest assessment unless the study is done by someone with no ties to the current administration at city hall: "Traffic on the Grand Central Parkway and Van Wyck Expressway is often backed up and worse when the New York Mets are in play and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is open. To add to that congestion, what would flow from the proposed development would make it even more impossible. Traffic on these highways is not an issue limited to the city and Willets Point businesses, but all city residents. Having an independent study by the state and federal governments, both of which have not been engaged by either the proponents or opposition, makes sense and TimesLedger should as a matter of public interest support it."

The TimesLedger should do exactly that-just to demonstrate a smidgen of independence-along with a slight pretense that it isn't in any one's political pocket. But, as they often say in lobbying, "a contract is a contract;" so we don't expect that the newspaper will have an attitude adjustment anytime soon.