Lobbying question a ‘cheap shot’ at Shulman: Bloomberg

Here’s an excerpt of Nathan Duke and Anna Gustafson’s report on a sitdown TimesLedger/CNG had with Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday.

Bloomberg blasted a New York Times article published last week that suggested a group led by former Borough President Claire Shulman illegally lobbied city officials on behalf of the Bloomberg administration.

Here’s what he had to say:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed Monday accusations the city used public funds to form a group headed by former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman to lobby on its behalf during the administration’s battle to push through the massive Willets Point redevelopment project.

“It’s a cheap shot at Claire Shulman, who has dedicated her life to this city,” Bloomberg said during an interview with reporters and editors from the Community Newspaper Group, TimesLedger Newspapers’ parent company.

“These groups are designed to lobby,” Bloomberg continued. “I don’t know if they technically broke the law.”

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office recently began an investigation into whether Shulman’s group, the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC, illegally lobbied city officials after it came to light the city Economic Development Corp. funneled money to the organization.

According to state law,  local development corporations may not attempt to influence legislation.

Bloomberg addressed a bevy of other issues during his hour-long interview at CNG’s Metrotech headquarters in Brooklyn, including hospital closures in Queens, the economy and, of course, term limits. The mayor is being challenged by city Comptroller Bill Thompson, a Democrat, and City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) for his seat.

The mayor, an independent who is running for a third term, has long been an advocate of the Willets Point rezoning that will transform the industrial expanse into a residential and commercial area. While he and his administration have come under fire for what critics have called aggressive tactics to acquire private Willets Point property, the mayor said plans to transform the blighted area had for too long remained stagnant.

“The Willets Point process started 50 years ago,” Bloomberg said. “You have to at some point say enough is enough. We need housing, we need jobs.”

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