Monday, June 16, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal--A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 8

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Political Office-Seeking Career

As the New York Times recalled in an Aug. 25, 2013 article, de Blasio’s “assiduous courtship of Jewish leaders in Brooklyn” as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2000 also “solidified his credentials for his own Council run in 2001,” when the political operative from Cambridge, Massachusetts decided to seek elective political office for himself in New York City; and “colleagues even joked about his frequent trips to Brooklyn during the Senate race, and started calling him Councilman.” The same article also noted that “his networking efforts paid off” because “Mrs. Clinton’s Senate donors eventually accounted for more than a third of his fund-raising haul in his Council race, according to an analysis by the New York Times.”

De Blasio claims to be pro-tenant and sympathetic to the economic goals of democratic socialism and in favor of democratic change in New York City. Yet as an elected member of the New York City Council between 2002 and 2010, de Blasio supported real estate developer Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project despite the opposition of most people who lived in the Park Slope neighborhood (whose interests he had previously pledged to represent) to the Atlantic Yards project. As a long-time African-American Movement activist in New York City and New York City Council member Charles Barron told the Brooklyn Paper in 2008, de Blasio “supported Ratner!.” In addition, as Barron also observed, de Blasio “supported the expansion of the 421-a subsidy, which is a handout to developers,” although “developers should not get tax breaks for building projects that are 80 percent luxury housing.”

Coincidentally, as Norman Oder observed in an Oct. 19, 2011 post on his Atlantic Yards Reports blog, on May 23, 2010 New York City real estate developer Bruce Ratner “gave $4,950, the maximum,” to the campaign chest of “Bill de Blasio, a likely 2013 mayoral candidate and a reliable, if not always credible, Atlantic Yards supporter;” and “Ratner…was the co-chair of a de Blasio fundraiser.” And according to the Office of the Public Advocate website, on Dec. 1, 2011 de Blasio met in his public office with Bruce Ratner and former Democratic New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s special assistant, Suri Kasirer—who is now the president of the Kasirer Consulting Services lobbying firm that also represents the special corporate interests of clients such as Goldman Sachs, CBS, NBC, Time-Warner, AIG and Goldman Sachs—to discuss the Atlantic Yards project that de Blasio still supports.

Dana Rubinstein also observed in an Aug. 30, 2013 Capital website article, that” in fact, de Blasio’s record as a councilman demonstrated a willingness to work with developers…using an approach to land use that at times bore a strong resemblance to Bloomberg's own..” As Rubinstein also recalled:

“In 2009, he pushed through a rezoning of a development site on the Gowanus Canal so Toll Brothers could build 447 condos there. And, when Toll Brothers said they would pull out if the federal government declared the canal a Superfund site, de Blasio backed a Bloomberg alternative cleanup… Critics countered that Bloomberg's alternative clean-up would prove less thorough.

“And, like Bloomberg, but to the consternation of some very vocal Brooklyn Heights residents, he supported the development of condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park

“`“When he talks to the real estate industry, he tells us to look at his record,’ one real estate executive told me…

"`Mr. de Blasio has never criticized the deeply flawed process that gifted a complete zoning override and 22 acres of valuable Brooklyn real estate to a single developer without any vote or any bidding process,’ said Daniel Goldstein, the founder of Developer Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which led the anti-Atlantic Yards fight, in an email. `He's never railed against the sweetheart deal, or advocated on behalf of homeowners and tenants who faced the highly controversial use of eminent domain. From the start and right up to the minute he has unconditionally supported the biggest land grab of the Bloomberg years, a deal made entirely in back rooms.’"…

“De Blasio was also a staunch supporter of a Toll Brothers proposal to build hundreds of condos on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, to the dismay of some residents.

“In March, Toll Brothers hosted a fund-raiser for de Blasio at the developer's 99 Wall Street offices.

“`There’s no difference between him and the mayor on development schemes, as far as we can see,’ said Marlene Donnelly, a member of Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, known as FROGG…”
(end of part 8)

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