Sections

Vito power! Lopez got big campaign cash from winning G’point Hospital bidder

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

The Queens-based developer and Bronx financial partner who won a bid from the city to redevelop the defunct Greenpoint Hospital into affordable housing, contributed thousands of dollars to the neighborhood’s powerful assemblyman and his political allies in what opponents say was a naked ploy to win the bid.

Last year, as city housing officials were deciding the fate of the coveted Greenpoint Hospital project, Great American Construction Corporation and TNS Development Group donated $1,500 to the re-election campaign of Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsbu­rg), who is also the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman.

In 2008, Great American President Samuel Gaccione kicked in $1,000 of his own money to Lopez’s unopposed campaign to go with another $1,000 that Gaccione gave to Lopez in 2004.

Gaccione’s financial partner, Bronx-based Lemle & Wolf, has been similarly active in Brooklyn politics, giving Lopez $2,000 since 2008. Last year, the company’s president, Frank Anelante, supported Lopez-backed Council candidates Steve Levin and Maritza Davila with contributions of $500 each, while his wife, Lorraine Anelante, chipped in another $250 to each candidate.

And if that weren’t enough, Lemle & Wolff’s Political Action Committee, Affordable Housing PAC, has given Lopez’s Assembly campaign $4,400 since 2006 to ensure that the Housing Committee chairman stays in office. The PAC also gave $350 to Lopez’s party organization.

In April, the two housing development partners were awarded the site, beating out the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation, and the Bushwick-based Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, which Lopez founded.

Great American’s plan to bring 240 below-market-rate units to the Kingsland Avenue site was nearly identical to the Greenpoint group’s plan, whose group’s members had worked on the proposal for more than two decades.

Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D–Williamsbu­rg), a rival of Lopez’s, believes that the Assemblyman steered the city toward Great American’s bid for the Greenpoint Hospital in retaliation for her objection to his Broadway Triangle rezoning plan.

But Great American’s Sam Gaccione said that his company applied for the project because “it looked like a great opportunity” and that politics did not play a role in his company’s award.

When asked about his financial contributions to Lopez, Gaccione replied that they were made because Lopez, as chairman of the Assembly housing committee, has been a proponent of affordable housing in New York and secured millions of dollars in state programs for the industry at large.

“Other than that, we haven’t had any relationship with Vito,” said Gaccione. “Every event we’ve been to with Vito has been attended by 20 or 30 other affordable housing developers.”

Indeed, Lopez’s allies say that it’s preposterous to think that Lopez played any role — especially since the bid would have likely gone to his favored group, Ridgewood Bushwick, if Lopez really had any say over it.

Then again, another city source suggested that Lopez is using his “snub” of Ridgewood Bushwick in this case as cover for his pay-to-play deal with Great American.

Esteban Duran, a Community Board 1 member and a candidate opposing Lopez in a state committeeman race, believes that the powerful Brooklyn party boss steered the bid towards the Queens-based group since it was unlikely that Ridgewood Bushwick would be awarded the project anyway.

“He has a competitor’s mindset,” Duran said. “If his nonprofit is not going to be able to build, then he doesn’t want any other nonprofit in the neighborhood to get a project. With the housing comes organizing power, and that emboldens your political organizing.”

A city spokesman said that the Greenpoint Hospital’s developer was selected through a competitive process, “based on an evaluation of the financial feasibility of the proposal, affordability of residential units, quality of architectural design, and development and management experience” and that politics did not play a role.

Updated 12:31 am, October 16, 2015: Updated to get everyone to chill out.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
Obviously Vito Low-paz has never had the slightest intention of conceding power. ...Crooks make the point that what is needed is not necessarily ... As long as the lord Vito continues to operate , things will never change
Aug. 5, 2010, 7:18 am
lopez from Bushwick says:
Kestenbaum I agree with you
Aug. 5, 2010, 9:01 am
willburg dude from Williamsburg says:
Is this vito guy serious? forget him, is HPD serious? Why do they listen to him.......real boss tweed here!!!!
Aug. 5, 2010, 10:45 am
Whatajoke says:
Short has lost all credibility here. There is nothing to show Lopez played any role except unfounded accusations. There is no mention of CPC's payoff of Reyna in exchange for Domino support. Someone should check to see why the Brooklyn Paper is paying Short to be Reyna's personal PR person.
Aug. 5, 2010, 12:55 pm
Whatajoke says:
And I failed to mention the losing bidder is the organization most aligned with Reyna, St. Nicks, that has given her thousands over the years. Where is that angle to this story? This isn't journalism, it is amusing fiction.
Aug. 5, 2010, 12:57 pm
HousingAdvocate from Williamsburg says:
So, the idea is that this NYC developer donated a few thousand dollars over six years to a powerful legislator to get a multi-million dollar development project over that legislator's favored not for profit? Not likely.

It's amazing that Aaron Short's editors let him write this stuff.

It seems to me that Diana Reyna and St. Nicholas, the not for profit that lost the bid, and whose employees work for her on election day, are gearing up for another lawsuit, and Aaron Short is the first part of their PR campaign. I wonder if Marty Needleman, the attorney that is on St. Nicholas' board and who brought a lawsuit when they didn't get awarded the Broadway Triangle development, will handle this lawsuit too?

Good thing the community doesn't need affordable housing.
Aug. 5, 2010, 1:06 pm
LOL says:
Keep up the fight Diana! Lopez is a d-bag and he knows it. Short, find out how Lopez leases his Acura RL and pays for all those meals at Cono's and Peter Luger's. It surely is not from what he receives in salary from the Assembly. It is all a scam. Do you want to know how? DISTRICT LEADER! Quid pro quo. All his flunkies donate to his district leader campaign funds. That is how he maintains his lifestyle. By the way Short, Lopez hates you, be careful.
Aug. 5, 2010, 3:09 pm
Chris says:
As long the US Attorney will sit on the sidelines , corruption in all lopez controlled housing agencies will be series pay to play, ms loretta lynch please woke up the bell rings !
Aug. 6, 2010, 1:37 am
Joe Z from Greenpoint says:
"Is this vito guy serious? forget him, is HPD serious? Why do they listen to him.......real boss tweed here!!!!"

William Marcy "Boss" Tweed ran the most currupt political organization in the history of this country, Tammany Hall. It makes the corruption in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans and, at one time, Kansas City look amateurish in comparison. Know what the common thread between all these cities might be? They're all run by one monolithic political party machine. And, that would be the Democratic Party. The City Council chamber wasn't called the den of the Forty Thieves for nothing.

The only reason bums like Lopez and his ilk remain in power is because of you, the voters. Lopez, and other members of the machine, throw a few bones to the lumpen; and, to show their gratitude to these con artists, they vote for the ticket he's running on. You're the ones that created the monster, known as the professional politician.

Being elected to office as a representative of one's constituents is a public service; it was never intended to spawn a professional class of self-serving elitists who show a complete detachment from the realities of life as experienced by the average person. The longer that these weasels are allowed to stay in office, the more pronounced that detachment becomes. similar to people who are recipients of government subsidies, career politicians develop a warped sense of entitlement and an overinflated sense of their own self-importance in the scheme of things. Nobody is irreplaceable.

Do yourself a favor. Vote this, and every other bum, out of office. Don't vote by party affiliation. Vote in the best interests of your community.
Aug. 7, 2010, 11:57 am
sick from brooklyn says:
Joe Z you make me sick!! comparing electeds to "recipients of government subsidies"... you must be an elitist son of a gun with "an overinflated sense of your own self-importance in the scheme of things"

call me a lopez lackey; call me whatever you may desire. but as a resident of the 53rd AD, i've seen the changes that these neighborhoods have undergone since the 1960's.

moreover, i agree with housing advocate.. how come this journalist's stories are always one-sided? is it because he is trying to make a name for himself and its sexy to talk about the king of the hill? Diana is so worthless and insignificant that it makes no sense for anyone to talk about her corruption; her weekend trips to dominican republic with ex-councilman miguel martinez (who happens to be in jail for embezzling money); being paid off my CPC during the domino housing battle; how and why she decided to turn against her community and extended term limits; and how she lives in glendale, queens (outside of her district)
Aug. 10, 2010, 3:07 am
anywho says:
sick from brooklyn says:

Take that stick out your anus, you are toooooo uptight.
Aug. 10, 2010, 6:33 am
Joe Z from Greenpoint says:
"sick from brooklyn says:
Joe Z you make me sick!! comparing electeds to "recipients of government subsidies"... you must be an elitist son of a gun with "an overinflated sense of your own self-importance in the scheme of things"

Gauging your esponse, you must be a recipient of government subsidies. Not only are you a Lopez lackey, you're delusional if you think the quality of life in the neighborhood has improved under his aegis.

Elitist? Not by a longshot. Bemused by the ignorance and gullibilty of the electorate? Absolutely.

If you want to talk about changes since the 1960s, let's start with this:

The entire area began its downward spiral and was transformed into a bona fide slum during that period, culminating in the self-inflicted destruction, caused by widespread looting and arson, during the blackout of July, 1977. The entire area was reduced to a wasteland. Not that the unscrupulous landlords of some properties weren't responsible; but the people who actually lived there were, too. You reap what you sow. Then, after years of neglect, vandalism and indifference by those living there, they want the government to pay for everything. Get something straight. Contrary to popular perception, you are not owed anything by the government. All of the entitlement programs created by the government are nothing more than ways to pander for votes. these programs do nothing than create a culture of dependency. You, and other useful idiots (Lenin's term, not mine) fall into the trap by continually electing bums, like Lopez, who rob you blind, right under your collective noses, while promising something for nothing.

People like Lopez are elected because they promise you the moon. All you got, in return for your votes was more broken, or unfulfilled, promises. keep doing what you're doing. You get what you deserve. You have plenty to be sick about.
Aug. 10, 2010, 5:23 pm
Joe Z from Greenpoint says:
"sick from brooklyn says:
Joe Z you make me sick!! comparing electeds to "recipients of government subsidies"... you must be an elitist son of a gun with "an overinflated sense of your own self-importance in the scheme of things"

Gauging your esponse, you must be a recipient of government subsidies. Not only are you a Lopez lackey, you're delusional if you think the quality of life in the neighborhood has improved under his aegis.

Elitist? Not by a longshot. Bemused by the ignorance and gullibilty of the electorate? Absolutely.

If you want to talk about changes since the 1960s, let's start with this:

The entire area began its downward spiral and was transformed into a bona fide slum during that period, culminating in the self-inflicted destruction, caused by widespread looting and arson, during the blackout of July, 1977. The entire area was reduced to a wasteland. Not that the unscrupulous landlords of some properties weren't responsible; but the people who actually lived there were, too. You reap what you sow. Then, after years of neglect, vandalism and indifference by those living there, they want the government to pay for everything. Get something straight. Contrary to popular perception, you are not owed anything by the government. All of the entitlement programs created by the government are nothing more than ways to pander for votes. these programs do nothing than create a culture of dependency. You, and other useful idiots (Lenin's term, not mine) fall into the trap by continually electing bums, like Lopez, who rob you blind, right under your collective noses, while promising something for nothing.

People like Lopez are elected because they promise you the moon. All you got, in return for your votes was more broken, or unfulfilled, promises. keep doing what you're doing. You get what you deserve. You have plenty to be sick about.
Aug. 10, 2010, 5:23 pm
Joseph from Red Hook says:
The Greenpoint Hospital / Great American Construction Corporation / TNS Development Group contributions to Vito Lopez are a great example of blatant conflicts of interest. Yet, if only that was the only example. If you look at state campaign finance reports you'll see that a HUGE part of Lopez's campaign funds come from developers and other real estate interests. Someone should add THOSE up and draw lines to projects approved. "Friends of Vito Lopez" indeed.
Aug. 12, 2010, 1:34 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.