In 2001, Peter Vallone Jr. advised the president of a local Astoria environmental group to sign a secret agreement that did a special favor for a big electric power company. SCS Energy (the parent company of “Astoria Energy”) wanted to build a 1000-megawatt power plant in Astoria. But they wanted to get around applying for a Dept. of Environmental Protection “air permit.” This permit is the City’s way of monitoring and controlling air pollution, and it is emphatically required by local law. Yet Vallone Jr. appears to have helped SCS get a free pass around that law, which was designed to protect the health and safety of the residents of Astoria, and of the whole city.
Why did SCS offer the City, in the agreement, $4.8 million to fund some unspecified environmental benefits for Astoria and vicinity? Why would they want to pay out such a large sum when the cost of filing the air permit would have been only $75,000? Why not just comply with local law and file the DEP permit? Why ask for a special deal?
And why the secrecy? We only found out about the deal because of a story that showed up on the front page of the Queens Chronicle in early December, 2001, about a month after the agreement was signed (and also because I later filed a Freedom of Information request to get a copy of the agreement). These questions still need answers, even now.
The main point is, you live here in Astoria. It’s your neighborhood. You pay the taxes that support the New York City government. You deserve to know what’s going on. Nobody—not the Mayor, not the Governor, and not your elected representative in City Council—has the right to make such important decisions for you.
All the candidates for City Council in District 22 need to say straight-out whether he or she is going to keep doing business the Vallone Jr. way. As for me, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will not continue the Vallone Jr. “legacy.”
So, if you want your next City Councilmember to be someone who looks the other way when very rich, powerful people abuse their power or break the law, you shouldn’t vote for me. But if you want someone who’s going to keep you in the loop and constantly try to get your input—who’s going to blow the whistle on official corruption, as I already have done by filing formal complaints against Vallone Jr. and Michael Bloomberg—who’s going to make life harder, not easier, for big-shots looking for favors and special deals, well…vote for me.
Vote Jerry Kann, Populist Party candidate for City Council, District 22, Astoria, Queens, on Tuesday, November 5.