By LOUIS FLORES
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) has tasked his secretary, William Mulrow, to broker a deal to renew a controversial tax abatement program favored by luxury condominium real estate developers.
The tax abatement program, known by the section in state law where it exists, is often referred to as 421-a. It provides owners of new developments with an exemption from local property taxes.
Mr. Mulrow's task was revealed in a report written by the columnist Fredric Dicker and published in The New York Post.
Mr. Mulrow, who is encumbered by a slew of connections with big business interests, is now reportedly seeking to renew the 421-a tax breaks, which are sought by wealthy real estate developers.
Good government groups foresee the possibility of defeating the 421-a tax abatement program, which is scheduled to expire on June 15, but only if an organized tenant lobby works in a unified fashion. However, as reported by Progress Queens, many fault lines have developed amongst various groups advocating on behalf of tenant issues in the final weeks of this year's legislative session up in Albany.
The lack of an organized tenant lobby is being seized upon by the Cuomo administration and big business groups to strong-arm a renewal of the controversial tax breaks.
In respect of the state legislature, however, a report written by the columnist Kenneth Lovett and published by The New York Daily News indicated that some Republican State Senators may be expressing reservations about making backroom deals in connection with the 421-a tax breaks out of fear of triggering further corruption probes by the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the nation's top federal prosecutor in New York's southern district.
Since the premature closure of the corruption-fighting panel known as the Moreland Commission, the office of U.S. Attorney Bharara has been focused on investigating cases of political and campaign corruption up in Albany. Those investigations have yielded the high profile arrests of Assemblymember Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) and State Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) on a litany of federal corruption charges. Those investigations revealed at least tangential involvement by wealthy real estate developers, which have greatly benefitted from the 421-a tax breaks, an area that the Moreland Commission had begun to probe before it was disbanded.
U.S. Attorney Bharara's political corruption investigations are widening to include the use of court-approved wiretaps targeting lobbyists, according to a report written by Murray Weiss and published by DNAinfo.