‘Gridlock’ Sam Schwartz has been working alongside Mayor de Blasio to build the Brooklyn-Queens Connect Trolley without revealing that his firm is registered as a paid lobbyist on the project, revealed the New York Post.
Papers submitted to the city clerk show that Sam Schwartz Engineering earned $10,000 from meetings with officials. The meetings were regarding $2.5 billion proposal on behalf of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector.
On February 2015, a nonprofit designated to promote the trolley was launched by the water front developers. Since then, more than a half-dozen real-estate honchos have donated more than $500,000 to de Blasio’s causes. These donors will be benefited by the BQX with a boost in the value of their properties surrounding the trolley route.
A year later, in February 2016, de Blasio backed the plan at a State of the City speech even though not everyone in the impacted neighborhoods is on board.
Phil De Paolo, a North Brooklyn activist said “It’s by developers and for developers…The communities it runs through think it won’t benefit the people currently living there.”
There have been comments from associates at Schwartz’s firm that dispute the lobbying label, saying the filings with the City Clerk’s Office were submitted only out of an abundance of caution. They said changes to city lobbying law in late 2015 didn’t specify whether engineering firms needed to register as lobbyists, raising concern amongst the associates.
The National Director of transportation at Schwartz’s firm, Harris Schechtman commented: “Sam Schwartz Engineering DPC has very publicly worked with The Friends of the BQX to study the transportation aspects of a waterfront streetcar…We were not engaged as lobbyists and have not lobbied on behalf of the Friends.”
While filing with the city clerk in July 2016, the firm said it was paid $10,000 for meetings with top officials in the mayor’s office the Department of Transportation and the city Economic Development Corp. Additionally, Schwartz has previously been hired to do a feasibility study by the nonprofit, whose founders include Two Trees Development principal Jed Walentas. A Two Trees subsidiary has donated $100,000 to de Blasio’s political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.