Why did Bill Thompson abruptly leave BPCA?

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Bill ThompsonMay 16, 2012

The New York World has an exposé on Bill Thompson, our most recent Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), that could explain why he suddenly stepped down. It seems that he was cutting lucrative deals with the big real estate owners in Battery Park City (BPC) in exchange for campaign donations to his 2013 run for NYC Mayor.

Developer Howard Milstein owns many of the new luxury condos in BPC and the Canadian company Brookfield Properties owns the WFC complex. Both groups lobbied to prevent an increase in rent that would have been paid to the BPCA (real estate is not owned in BPC. It is rented from the BPCA). Both groups also contributed the maximum amount allowed to Bill Thompson’s campaign.

According to the Daily News, “Campaign finance records show that Thompson received a $4,950 contribution from Milstein – the maximum allowed by law – dated January 11, 2012. Two more identical donations from Milstein’s wife, Abby, and son, Michael, came on the same day, for a total of $14,850.

Also taking a bite out of future Battery Park City funding to the city are millions of dollars in rent reductions that Thompson and the board unanimously approved in March to help Brookfield Properties pay for a glitzy overhaul of its retail space at the World Financial Center.

Brookfield is promising a shopper’s paradise that includes high-fashion retailers, a 21-restaurant dining complex and a massive food marketplace – Lower Manhattan’s answer to midtown’s Eataly and Grand Central Market.

The board’s unanimous vote in support of the rent deal came at the recommendation of Horwitz, who was previously Thompson’s chief of staff and a top deputy at the comptroller’s office. It also followed more than $15,000 in contributions to Thompson’s mayoral campaign by lobbyists and others tied to Brookfield Properties.

Horwitz did not respond to an interview request. A Brookfield spokeswoman declined to comment.

Under the deal approved by the Battery Park City Authority board, Brookfield will pay a minimum of $46.7 million to the authority over the next 15 years, $14 million more than under its previous deal.

But the authority also agreed to lower the rent Brookfield must pay the Battery Park City Authority. Projections provided to Thompson and other authority board members before their vote show $22.3 million in rent breaks.”

Update: The Daily News has since removed this story from their website

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7 Responses to Why did Bill Thompson abruptly leave BPCA?

  1. Adam says:

    Looks like “right again “…..the old team was so crooked with the secret apartments they kept at the regatta.

    BPC has proven historical abuse!!

    Residents sat on sidelined for years—between my investigative submissions year after year, finally the system is breaking!!

    Too bad people were still asleep when we tried to rally up against the increases on the land lease.

    BPC got that right up their ass when u had a chance for control.
    Enjoy that contract—a complete failure!!!

    City time city time city time —people don’t change!!!

  2. Adam says:

    Ps—u won’t have any shopper paradise by Brookfield!

    Does anyone remember that luxury retailer Barney’s was located in wfc.
    It was dead empty…..

  3. fran says:

    i need a rent break also………………f

  4. Maureen Barry Somerville says:

    So do I, Fran. Is anyone in politics honest???

  5. Judith says:

    Well I’m glad you quoted extensively from the article because for some reason it’s been taken down from The NY Daily News website. “Web Page Vanishes” is all you get now instead of the article.

    I would like to add my own BPCA news. Last January I asked the BPCA for a list of their charitable contributions. For those who are members of the Yahoo Group, bpcgroundrents, go to the Files section and examine a file I uploaded named, “BPCA Contribution Data.pdf” which lists the various organizations that received $1.16 million in funds from BPCA.

    Quoting from the NY Times article (which is still on the web):
    “Last fall, he finished his work as the chairman of a state committee reviewing judicial salaries. And now that his Battery Park City service, which Mr. Thompson estimated was taking up 8 to 10 hours a week, is drawing to an end, the only public-service position he will hold is chairman of a state committee on minority- and women-owned businesses.”

    As the BPCA contributions file shows, in dollar amounts, about 78% of the $1.16 million went to Lower Manhattan organizations (Alliance for Downtown NY, Manhattan Youth, and The Battery Conservancy). Examples of the smaller donations: $40,000 went to minority and women organizations (not surprising since Mr. Thompson is chairman of a state MWBE committee), $2,000 to The Black and Hispanic Caucus, $2,500 to The Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce, and $5,000 to The Jamaican Business Resources…Can someone explain why BPCA needs to donate $15,000 to the New York Building Congress?

    These smaller donations show that BPCA money can be used at the discretion of the chairman for political and/or personal reasons. If NY State wants to donate money to organizations, it should all be above board. It should not be hidden in The Battery Park City Authority’s donations. This is not acceptable governance. In the corporate world, companies got into trouble when they hid assets and financing in “special purpose entities” to hide extreme leverage or losses. How is this different? If I hadn’t asked through the FOIA for a list of BPCA contributions, is this information show anywhere else? So far I haven’t found it in the BPCA annual report. BPCA contributions should not be based on who is the current chairman and should be limited to organizations in Lower Manhattan (remember the previous BPCA administration was donating to charities in other states).

    Total BPCA donations equal $11.17 million. Besides the $1.2 million in grants and donations shown on the spreadsheet, $9.5 million went to the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, $255,000 went to The Hudson River Festival, and $41,000 went to Other Events according to an email I received from BPCA’s assistant general counsel.

    Instead of donations going to outside organizations, I would strongly suggest that grants be given to the older condominiums in the neighborhood so they can replace their aging plant and machinery, and make their buildings more environmentally friendly.

  6. Steve Gutterman says:

    This is very troubling.

  7. esther says:

    Why is bpca giving money away in random donations? Its not like the authority is flush with cash.

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