NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Following yet another neighborhood rezoning that was shrouded in mystery, and left many questions unanswered, the Laborers and Ironworkers unions in conjunction with Inwood residents and community groups, filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request in an effort to uncover what actually went on in the land use process surrounding the Inwood rezoning. The FOIL includes requests for all documents, studies, memoranda, correspondence, reports, calendars, schedules, and similar documents from Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, his staff, New York City agencies, local contractors and developers, labor organizations, local experts, academics, and/or community groups.
"Not only do our members deserve better, every citizen in the City of New York deserves better from their elected leaders," said Robert Bonanza, Business Manager of the 17,000-member Mason Tenders' District Council of Greater New York, LiUNA. "If we wanted such a lack of transparency and a government shrouded in mystery, Tammany Hall would still be in power. We will FOIL every Council Member and their communications around this and future rezonings if we have to in order to make clear that this business as usual, backroom deal making is unacceptable and hurts New Yorkers," added Bonanza.
For months, the unions and residents tried to work with Council Member Rodriguez on the rezoning to arrive at a neighborhood plan that would include common sense policies to employ local residents, ensure responsible contractors worked in the neighborhood, and curtail predatory development that seeks to destroy the fabric of this working-class, majority Latino neighborhood in Manhattan. However, the Council Member continually refused to engage these and other issues raised, making many question with whom he worked on the rezoning and whom he intended this rezoning to benefit.
"Communities shouldn't have to go through the trouble of filing a FOIL request to know what their elected representative is doing on the job," said resident and activist Paloma Lara. "We should always have access to this kind of information. The anticipation of holding Council Member Rodriguez accountable with concrete evidence will be enough to keep me and my fellow activists energized these next few months."
"Time and again agreements are made and votes secured through conversations that are never made public, leaving many to question if and why the City Council is hiding information," said Patrick Purcell, Executive Director of the Greater New York & New York State Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. "Unfortunately, the process surrounding the Inwood rezoning was no different. It isn't simply sad, it is an affront to the progressive body this Council claims to be that filing a FOIL request is the only way for the public to find out what deals were made behind the closed doors of City Hall," Purcell concluded.
"Once again, a New York City community was left out of conversations about construction and development in their neighborhood," said James P. Mahoney, President, New York State Iron Workers District Council. "Now, we are coming together to ask for open communication, and transparency about who exactly was involved in making decisions about future construction in Inwood. Council Members continue to make last minute changes to rezoning plans without community members in the room or commitments from developers to use responsible contractors, and city officials refuse to answer our questions. As these high stakes decisions continue to be made, we will continue to FOIL for all of the information about what happened and who was in the room making decisions that will affect neighborhoods for decades to come."
"It's long overdue that the public know the truth about what private deals were made behind closed doors by City Hall, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, the City Council, and New York City agencies, specifically the EDC," said Josue Perez, spokesperson for the Inwood Small Business Coalition (ISBC)/Coalición de Pequeñas Empresas de Inwood (CPEI). "The Inwood rezoning process was opaque and deceptively presented to our community. Key rezoning documents were never made available in Spanish to a community which is majority Spanish speaking. It also appears that some changes may have been made at the last minute to the Inwood rezoning that were never been reviewed by the public, as required by law. It's time for full and complete disclosure of communications and actions by our elected officials and all New York City agencies involved in the rezoning, including Small Business Services."
SOURCE Mason Tenders District Council