Friday, February 24, 2012

Did Rudin Pay Off Stringer ?

According to a new Crain's article, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has wilted under pressure. Only a few months ago, true to his so-called "progressive beliefs," he issued a scathing report questioning City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's use of corrupt slush funds. Now, all of a sudden, he has turned his back on the community, to whom he promised that he would help lead the charge to fight for a full-service hospital to replace St. Vincent's Hospital. Instead, Borough President Stringer has sold out. Many community members are asking : "How large were the campaign contributions made by the Rudin family to Stringer ?"
Quinn covered on St. Vincent's

When the City Council casts a final vote on Rudin Management's plan to redevelop the defunct St. Vincent's Hospital next month, Council Speaker Chris Quinn will find herself caught between her vocal, left-leaning constituency and the scion of a prominent real estate family backed by the city's business community. But few observers believe she will find herself in a pickle.

Insiders say a path has been carved for Quinn to green-light Bill Rudin's project—which includes 450 luxury condos and a $100 million emergency-care  center—with limited backlash from longtime residents and Village activists who decry the loss of a full-service hospital in the area.

Rudin's concessions have given Quinn substantial political cover. The developer agreed to create a 16,500-square-foot park and a 564-seat public elementary school and to scale back the height and bulk of his project by 30%. Overall, it will have a smaller footprint than the shuttered St. Vincent's campus.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has also come to the speaker's aid. While Community Board 2 issued a blistering resolution against the redevelopment and voted it down, Stringer gave it a conditional thumbs-up. He didn't support the community board's demand for Rudin to finance affordable housing in the area, taking heat off the developer and Quinn.

Even as opponents scramble to extract further concessions, an insider said the speaker sees little reason to placate them. “Chris has grown beyond the old Village guard,” the insider said. “She's willing to roll over them on this one.”

Yet observers say opponents to St. Vincent's are formidable enough to make Quinn squirm a little. Few have forgotten that she won only 52% of the vote in her 2009 re-election campaign, as two challengers ran to her left. “There are still a lot of people in this community who feel they've been abandoned,” said a person who has worked closely on the project.

Those people, however, might have to come to terms with Quinn's likely choice. “Some politicians have to tell you what you don't want to hear,” said another observer, “whether you like it or not.”

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