Stossel Confronts Politicians about Corruption Allegations
That mayor was unhappy with me because I’d just asked if he and his fellow politicians were on the take. I asked because they want to seize a valuable piece of land. Check out this view. Wouldn’t you like to have an apartment with this view of the New York City skyline? It’s a rare, gorgeous location, right on the Hudson River. Right now there’s nothing here but dirt, so this man, who works for the developer Maxal Group, wants to build apartments like these. Thousands of people could live here with this great view. And this whole pier would be open to the public. They’d also build a facility for ferries, so people on this side of the river could commute to Manhattan on ferries like that one. Ferry would come right in here and go from here straight to midtown Manhattan. Sounds good to me, but then the politicians in this town said, “No! Forget about it!” We’re gonna seize the property and spend millions of taxpayer dollars to put our Department of Public Works here. This little department… It has just 13 employees plus these trucks. The garbage trucks will like this. This is — You’re absolutely right. The city does says it will also put in a park and parking, but at taxpayer expense. Maxal offered parking and parks at no cost. Parks, we were offering mass transit and all at no cost to taxpayers. Plus, the town would collect an additional $12 million dollars in taxes every year. Why would Edgewater say no to that? The unsuccessful bidder is a fellow named Fred Daibes, told us “you will never be able to develop this property.” Fred Daibes says he’s the biggest apartment developer in town. He also says, “you can’t be in Edgewater and not be affiliated with me.” Daibes also controls this New Jersey bank, and I wonder if he controls the politicians in town too, because a lawsuit filed by Maxal alleges “corrupt transactions” between Daibes and Edgewater’s politicians. Ongoing relationships with him, jobs, undervalued rentals, loans for their business purposes through a bank that Mr. Daibes started and has the controlling interest in. Sounds like Mr. Daibes controls the town. That seems unfortunately self-evident. Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland’s connected to Daibes. The mayor lives in this building. It’s quite elegant, with statues and fountains, and it happens to be owned by… Fred Daibes. According the lawsuit, the mayor pays below market rent, though the Mayor told the New York Times he doesn’t pay below market rent. The mayor and the city council say they have a good reason for using eminent domain and taxpayer money to seize Maxal’s development. They say Maxal’s project was “just too much”. The developer’s proposal is too big, says the Mayor. They just approved a larger project with a more intense density and guess for whom? For Fred Daibes. Work is already going on on his site, because somehow Daibes got approvals for a density and population of people that would occupy in excess of what we were seeking. 250 more apartments. 4 giant buildings, twice as tall as Maxal’s proposal. We tried to ask Fred Daibes about all this, but he didn’t respond to our calls and emails. How can the town justify approving dense development for Daibes, while rejecting a smaller proposal from a competitor? I tried to ask Edgewater’s mayor and the city council about this, but not one would agree to talk. So I came here, to a city council meeting, and I asked — I should explain why I’m asking that in a largely empty room. The council session was full earlier, but questions from people like me weren’t allowed until most everyone had left. So I tried. At this point, I thought I might actually get my questions answered. But no, no answers. And that was that. Maxal’s lawsuit claims the mayor and the council have engaged in “corrupt transactions” to favor Fred Daibes. He’s killing off the competition. It’s as simple as that. A great thing about capitalism is that the way to get rich is to serve your customers well. Developers can’t really be thugs, they can’t use force, they can’t tell other developers “you can’t build here” unless they have cronies in government. And that’s not capitalism, that’s crony capitalism. Actually, it’s corruption. To me, that sure seems to be what’s going on here.