Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Willets Point Subterfuge

Crain's Insider is reporting that EDC has completed the revised ramp report-contradicting the post we did yesterday: "Lobbyist Richard Lipsky, battling the Willets Point redevelopment, blogs that it has been nearly a year since the city promised to submit within “weeks” a revised analysis of the impact of two highway ramps on Queens traffic—the centerpiece of opponents' legal case. In fact, the revision was completed long ago and is being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration and the understaffed state Department of Transportation. A public comment period and hearing will follow, perhaps by the end of the year."

So, EDC is claiming that they have a completed ramp report-and it's in the hands of NYSDOT-yet both agencies have illegally been denying WPU's FOIL requests; while simultaneously claiming that these report materials are not available. It now appears, then, that the city and state are in collusion to avoid legally required disclosure in order to foist a poorly vetted report on the communities of Queens-particularly Corona and Flushing.

By failing to forward documents that are required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, EDC/NYSDOT appear to be attempting to avoid giving opponents the needed time for analyzing the ramp report revisions that EDC's consultants have come up with-after these very same consultants had submitted a deficient, and possibly fraudulent first draft last year.

WPU has been meeting with area elected officials, and we believe that it is incumbent on the people who represent the impacted communities to weigh in on this attempt to craft a report in secret-one that will likely significantly underplay the kind of traffic impacts that the Willets Point project will generate on a daily basis. We are beginning to see just how mendacious the Bloombergistas can be, but if they are not resisted, it will be the ciitizens of Queens who will reap the whirlwind that is Willets Point.


WPU's FOIL adviser remids us of the following-and we will forward this to the new Attorney General-elect: "Start naming names: If, as Crain's claims, the revised ramp report ("AMR") was completed "long ago", then EDC's Records Access Officer, Cristina Baldor, has much explaining to do regarding why she has withheld that revised report from Willets Point United Inc., when that revised report consists wholly or substantially of statistical or factual tabulations or data (objective information), which cannot be withheld pursuant to the sole disclosure exemption cited by Ms. Baldor within her denial of access to records, and which instead is required to be disclosed. NYCEDC has acknowledged that AMR materials are of the type that must be disclosed, because NYCEDC finally did disclose the Draft AMR a year ago, in response to WPU's appeal at that time which informed NYCEDC that the materials could not legitimately be withheld."

And there are consequences for this kind of behavior: "If NYCEDC has had the revised AMR, and has known that it must be disclosed in whole or in part, but has withheld it from WPU anyway, that would appear to be a violation that can subject the perpetrator to penalties:

"Any person who, with intent to prevent public inspection of a record pursuant to FOIL, willfully conceals or destroys any such record shall be guilty of a violation of §240.65 of the New York State Penal Law, and may serve up to fifteen days in jail and/or be fined up to $250.00 per such violation."

Let the investigations begin!