East Harlem is being invaded by real estate developers…and several politicians are helping them.
Incredibly, the Speaker of the New York City Council appears to be on their payroll.
When she first ran for City Council, the core pledge of Melissa Mark-Viverito was to “stop the gentrification” of East Harlem, and save the area from “greedy developers.” But from the moment she acquired the Council speakership, Viverito has gone on a real estate rampage.
From 2005 until 2013 – for eight long years – she received only $2,800 from real estate developers. Then from December 2013 through 2016 – in less than three years – Viverito collected a whopping $172,000 (ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND) from real estate developers, investors and contractors !
In the first eight years of her political career, less than 1 percent (0.88) of her campaign funds came from real estate sources…but over the past three years, over 20 percent of her “donations” are coming from real estate developers.
According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB), she currently has at least 77 real estate contributors…each one “donating” an average of $2,233 to her campaign committee.
Rob Speyer, Chairman of REBNY, and a very happy Viverito
Nine of these donors are on the Board of Governors, and four sit on the Executive Committee, of the Real Estate Board of New York – REBNY – the most powerful real estate organization in the entire state. Collectively, these REBNY men (all of them were men) delivered $59,000 to Viverito’s campaign treasury.
HOW TO BUY A CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER
The timing of the REBNY relationship is a shocking lesson in city politics. It is also a study in human character.
Viverito became Council Speaker on January 8, 2014.
Within weeks, on January 28, she met with the top REBNY executives: Stephen Spinola (President) and John Doyle (Vice President).
Within one week of this Jan. 28 meeting, Viverito had received $22,500 from real estate developers…78 percent of it from members of REBNY.
Immediately after the January 28 meeting, REBNY spokesman Jamie McShane told the press that the meeting between Viverito and the REBNY execs had been “very issue-oriented.” Apparently, the most urgent issue was how to get an overnight “donation” from a real estate billionaire, and how to receive $22,500 within one week.
THE REAL ESTATE SOCIAL SCENE
After the shotgun wedding of Viverito and REBNY, the Speaker became part of the real estate social scene.
She always attends the “Biggest Party of the Year” in New York real estate, and takes photos with the heavyweights. This includes the Chairman of REBNY, Rob Speyer…who is also the President and CEO of Tishman Speyer.
Viverito also socializes with John Banks III, the current President of REBNY.
Melissa with John Banks III, President of REBNY
MONEY FOR MELISSA…EB-5 SCAMS FOR EAST HARLEM
Melissa Mark-Viverito is clearly comfortable with REBNY and the real estate developers of New York.
Developers are not inherently evil…but they’re not charitable organizations, either. They are all business people, and they all want something. For instance David Lichtenstein, the REBNY billionaire who shot-gunned $5,000 into Viverito’s account, wants to build “luxury residential buildings in Manhattan.”
Bruce J. Ratner, another member of REBNY, wants to ram three 500-foot luxury residential towers into East Harlem, despite years of community opposition.
Steven Witkoff, also a REBNY member, funneled $19,900 to Viverito. Then he siphoned $200 million away from East Harlem through the federal EB-5 program…and will now want it all, as personal profit.
This will be discussed and analyzed tomorrow, in Part III of our “East Harlem for sale” series.
In the meantime, since numbers don’t lie, here is the record of Viverito “donations” from the real estate industry, from November 2005 through May 2016. I organized the list alphabetically.
Almost all of them were from real estate developers – either directly or bundled.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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