City must restart development process for Willets Point

An investigation by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has determined that the City Council rubber stamped the Bloomberg administration’s Willets Point plan after it had been illegally lobbied by the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corp., led by former Borough President Claire Shulman.

As a politician with many years of experience in city procedures and requirements, it appears Shulman either knew what she was doing was improper or she should have known. Equally criticized was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s city Economic Development Corp. and the Coney Island Development Corp. for illegally lobbying (“AG ruling spells reform for EDC,” Flushing Times, July 12-18).

The time has come to either get rid of or drastically alter the EDC, which, when all is said and done, has never been anything more than a patronage mill following the mayor’s dictates. Its sole function is to arrange huge taxpayer breaks, direct and indirect, and subsidize fat cat real estate moguls with political connections.

I doubt there has ever been a time when the EDC turned down mayoral dictates. While we are at it, we should also prohibit the use of former politicians like Shulman, whose sole purpose is to influence former colleagues and the public be damned.

As captain of the ship, Bloomberg must assume responsibility for the transgressions of Shulman and the EDC that have occurred over his cabal with term-limited Council members to overturn the public’s endorsements of term limits. This may be a black mark on his legacy as mayor.

Term limits are now the law, but if Bloomberg wants to redeem himself on illegal lobbying, he should insist the Council enact legislation withdrawing its approval of his Willets Point plan, which he should agree to, and the process should start anew without illegal lobbying.

Should they fail to do so, this will be a campaign issue for Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who aspires to be the next mayor, since it all occurred during her Council leadership.

The public is entitled to the fresh air of competent and honest government and nothing less.

Benjamin M. Haber