Today’s news:

Shulman lobbies illegally: Willets Pt. biz group

The Willets Point Industry and Realty Association filed a complaint with the city clerk last Thursday morning against former Borough President Claire Shulman, who the group accused of unlawfully operating as a lobbyist without formally registering with the city.

Shulman, a Whitestone resident, is the head of the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC, an advocacy group “created to aid in the redevelopment and revitalization of Willets Point,” according to its Web site.

Shulman has made no secret that she is pushing hard for the redevelopment, saying last week that she plans to meet with each City Council member over the next month.

Shulman and her consulting firm, The Parkside Group, have repeatedly maintained that both she and the LDC operate within the guidelines of state lobbying laws.

Shulman could not be reached for comment, but Evan Stavisky of the Parkside Group dismissed the complaint.

“This is a desperate attack from a special interest working to preserve a failed status quo. We need good jobs, affordable housing and environmental remediation — not cheap political attacks,” Stavisky said.

The Willets Point industry group, however, does not agree.

The coalition of business owners contends that Shulman’s efforts to persuade city and state government officials to support the project without registering as a lobbyist violates state lobbying laws.

“Transparency and accountability are essential to public integrity,” the group said in a letter sent to the city clerk’s office. “We believe Ms. Shulman has intentionally skirted the laws by not registering as a lobbyist in clear violation of the disclosure laws and rules governing lobbying activities.”

According to the city clerk’s records, Shulman is not registered as a lobbyist in 2008, but was in 2007 and 2006, when she was paid a total of $30,000 by the Heskel Group, the Forest Hills−based development firm, for work on local law and zoning issues.

Shulman’s group, however, has paid the Parkside Group $30,000 in the last year to lobby on its behalf, the city clerk’s records show.

Michael McSweeney, a city clerk spokesman, declined to comment.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, ext. 138.

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