Monday, December 06, 2010

EDC's Rampant Incompetence

Ever since Willets Point United's Brian Ketcham publicly embarrassed EDC and its coterie of colluding consultants over deficient-and arguably fraudulent-Van Wyck ramp reports, the agency has been playing hide the ball with all of its efforts to revise the ramps so that they meet the standards of NYS DOT and the Federal Highway Administration. Understandably so, since the last person EDC wants to review the work of its crack consulting squad is the estimable Ketcham-someone who can't be suborned by visions of contract sugar plums dancing in his head.

To what lengths will EDC go to withhold public information? Right now the agency is illegally non responsive to all of the Freedom of Information requests that WPU has filed-the latest deadline was last Monday with no acknowledgement from all of the shuckers and duckers at EDC. Remember that 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.

But, hey, when the mayor operates in secrecy why should his underlings believe that they should be held to a higher standard? Right now, WPU is considering filing a complaint with the Public Integrity Unit of the Manhattan DAs Office. The Public Integrity Unit, which is a part of the District Attorney's Rackets Bureau, was formed in 2010 by D.A. Vance to coordinate and oversee the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by public employees, elected officials, appointed officials, candidates for public office, and others who hold the public trust. The Public Integrity Unit, which investigates and prosecutes all types of public corruption in New York County other than corruption involving police officers, is supervised and staffed by a team of experienced prosecutors.

The Public Integrity Unit works with a variety of New York State, New York City, and federal law enforcement agencies, in addition to investigators from the D.A.’s Office. Although the Unit receives many of its referrals from investigative agencies, such as the New York City Department of Investigation, it also relies on the public and on those within government to help combat corruption by providing information about potential abuses committed by public employees.

No one, let alone employees of a quasi-public city agency, should be above the law; and when the agency in question has already engaged in questionable funding of a putatively illegal lobbying operation conducted by the Serial Non-Filer Claire Shulman, all of its actions should be carefully scrutinized. This isn't a minor matter by any means, and when the information requests from WPU pertain to the traffic reports that have already been judged to be deficient, the matter becomes even more serious.

In the view of WPU and consultant Ketcham, the traffic analyses done for EDC under the supervision of AKRF are conscious efforts to deceive the regulatory authorities about the potential impacts that the Van Wyck ramps will have on the highway itself, as well as the surrounding local street grid. The current stonewalling of the WPU's FOIL requests need to be seen in the context of the agency's overall shameful behavior in this matter.

We know for certain that NYS DOT has the revised ramp report in its possession, so EDC's refusal to hand it over-after WPU was given the original report to review-can only mean one thing: EDC has little confidence that its revised report can pass independent muster. EDC wants to try to expedite a review process that affords little time for opponents to analyze the veracity of its new submission to the state-and is looking to use its political muscle in an effort to obscure the failings of its consultants.

To be fair, we don't believe that any consultants can-using the immense amount of traffic generated by the Willets Point development-make the Van Wyck ramps work; and therefore comply with the federal guidelines that govern these kinds of access modification projects. Having been caught by the scrupulous oversight done by Brian Ketcham, EDC finds itself in a cul du sac of its own making.

As a result, its time for the state and federal regulators to relieve the agency of any role in the evaluation of the traffic issues pursuant to the ramps-and to heed the call of NRDC and the Sierra Club to turn this entire evaluative process over to an independent consultant who will be beyond EDC's subornation. We call on all of the local elected officials-who should be concerned, not only with transparency, but also with the calamitous traffic impacts from the proposed development as well, to insist that this EDC charade cease and desist. It has gone on for far too long.