Wednesday, April 22, 2009

De Blasio Advocates For Developers

If there is anyone you should cross off your list for Public Advocate, start with Councilman Bill De Blasio. The job he's running for requires a politician that is serious about standing up for ordinary New Yorkers (IMO people like Norman Siegel). De Blasio however, regards developers like the Toll Brothers as regular people, going so far as to decry efforts to clean up the severely polluted Gowanus Canal.

From The NY Daily News:

City Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Park Slope) said he didn't believe the cash-strapped federal program would be able to come up with the funding to complete a cleanup.

"We're being sold a bill of goods," he said. "There isn't necessarily money attached. ... How can you call it Superfund if there's no fund?"


The Superfund program usually pays for the early stages of a cleanup and then goes after polluters and owners of contaminated land to foot the rest of the bill. Cleanup can take years.

So why is De Blasio so adamant about not having the government clean the toxic canal?

Officials from Toll Brothers, whose controversial plan to build 460 condos and townhouses along the waterway was approved last month by the City Council with de Blasio's backing, have said they will drop the project if the canal becomes a Superfund site.

The Bloomberg administration came out against the Superfund proposal last week, touting city plans to spend $175 million on a new pumping station and upgraded flushing tunnel for the canal, and dredging a portion of the waterway.

"We, locally, have gotten our act together. The city's doing the right stuff. ... The Toll site will get cleaned up," de Blasio said, charging the feds would just "get in the way."

That's his opinion (and Bloomberg's). What do environmentalists in the community say?

"Those are just cosmetic cleanups. They do absolutely nothing," said Ludger Balan, a Gowanus resident and environmental programs director at the Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy.

He said the most an upgraded flushing tunnel would do is move around dirty water. "It does not remove the toxins."[...]

Federal officials have found high levels of cancer-causing PCBs and metals such as mercury and arsenic in the Gowanus Canal. While contaminants at many hazardous waste sites are measured in parts per million, levels of coal tar more than four parts per hundred were found in canal sediments.

"The city has had decades ... to do something about the canal and they've really been dragging their feet," said Marlene Donnelly, a member of Friends and Residents of the Gowanus Canal. "It's really disingenuous for them to turn around and say [they have] a plan."

Who are you going to believe, a self-interested pol like De Blasio or advocates in the community that care about seeing the area cleaned up? Commenters from Pardon Me For Asking know the deal with De Blasio, and so should everyone who is going to cast a ballot for Public Advocate in the fall.