Saturday, October 26, 2013

Elena Sassower: On The Corruption of The Moreland Commission

The Commission to Investigate Public Corruption
October 28 Manhattan Hearing:

(1)    In conjunction with my registration to attend Monday’s hearing of the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which I also combined (in the address section, with a request to testify), I have sent a protest to the Commission, on behalf of the public, reading:

“On behalf of the public, I protest that the Commission's October 28th 'public hearing' is not only 'topic limited' to prevent the public from testifying as to the breadth of public corruption within its knowledge and experience, but that it explicitly excludes the public from even testifying as to that limited topic, relegating We, The People, to nothing more than spectators who may 'attend only'.” 

(2)    For those who already registered to attend Monday’s hearing of the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption (Oct 28), the start time of the hearing has been changed!  It now begins at 5 pm (with doors opening at 4 pm).

(3)    The end time also has been changed.  It is no longer 9:30 pm, but to “Conclusion of Invited Speaker Testimony”.  This change is obviously to prevent the embarrassment to the Commission that occurred at the Sept 24 Albany hearing – where the last scheduled witness finished 1/2 hour before the  announced 9 pm ending time, yet the Commission did not use the opportunity of the free ½ hour to invite members of the public who had come to the hearing hoping to testify and who had registered to testify to do so.  And, by the way, the reason the Commission had announced a 9 pm ending time for the Sept 24 Albany hearing was because it thought it could be “smart” and prevent a repeat of what happened at the Sept 17 hearing in Manhattan – which had not ended until 9:40 pm.

(4)    For those who have not yet registered for Monday’s hearing, you can still do so – notwithstanding the registration page says on top “”Submissions for this form are closed”.  Just proceed to the bottom & click to registration form.

(5)    Please let me know if you are planning to come, so that we can coordinate strategy, vis-à-vis, media, which will be there.  Again, if you have not furnished me with your written statements about your requests to the Commission to testify at public hearings – and its responses, if any – please do so, as soon as possible.

September 17 (Manhattan) Hearing

It is extremely important that witnesses who testified at the Commission’s September 17th hearing in Manhattan compare the stenographic transcription of their oral testimony with the video – both posted on our webpage “The People Have Something to Say -- & Evidence to Back It Up”, accessible via our homepage,  Here’s the direct link: .  So that you can see why, read my October 25th letter to the transcription company about the stenographic transcription of my oral testimony.  It is attached & here:

By the way, my October 25th letter will be invaluable for our demand that court proceedings be audio/video recorded because of the inaccuracy &/or doctoring of transcripts.  Your experience &, more importantly, your filed complaints about inaccurate, doctored transcripts – and about court proceedings for which neither transcript nor recordings are available – are essential to our presentation on the subject to the Commission.  Let me hear from you!

September 17 (Manhattan) Hearing & September 24 (Albany) Hearing

Only by making public what the public is saying to the Commission about judicial and other governmental corruption will we be able to prevent the Commission from getting away with its intended cover-up. Read my October 24th letter to the Commission entitled “Public Access to the Record of the Commission’s September 17 and September 24th Public Hearings: Written Testimony & Other Supporting Materials”, posted on our website, here: .

Other Important Info

I probably don’t need to tell you that I will be voting NO on Proposition #6 – a constitutional amendment to extend the retirement age of NY Court of Appeals judges & Supreme Court justices to 80, from its present 70.  Earlier this week, I sent you an e-mail identifying that that ballot proposition had NOT been the subject of any legitimate legislative process in the Legislature.  

Catherine Wilson, who testified at the Commission’s Sept 17 Manhattan hearing, responded to that e-mail.  She stated she had done a financial analysis of the constitutional amendment proposal, available through Amazon:  

She described it, as follows: “Uncover the history and reasons behind the 2013 proposed NYS constitutional amendment to increase the judicial mandatory retirement age to age 80, an multi-million dollar exercise that will benefit only 1% of all NYS judges. Includes information regarding the mandatory retirement ages for other NYS employees, statistics regarding judicial retirements and demographic breakdown, and financial disclosure regarding current judicial compensation for judges over 70 collecting both court salaries and NYS pensions.” 

Thank you, Catherine, for your important contribution.


I have not yet written our Petition about the Commission and its hearings – but will do so, hopefully, within the next week.    Our target date for presenting it – to the Governor, etc. – with hopefully thousands of signatures -- will be December 1st – the date on which the Commission’s preliminary report is due.


Elena Sassower, Director
Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc. (CJA)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NYS Administrative Judges Accuse Department of Consumer Affairs' Commissioner Jonathan Mintz of Pressuring Them To Fine Small Bussinesses

Second judge claims pressure for fining small businesses

Susan Edelman, NYPOST


A second administrative law judge has come forward with a suit claiming she was strong-armed into slapping small businesses with hefty fines for alleged violations of city rules.
In a case filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Judge Susan Kassapian says her bosses in the city Department of Consumer Affairs would “illegally pressure” her and other judges to rule against businesses appealing their violations.
“Some of these fines wind up crushing the small businesses — they’re draconian fines in light of the small infractions,” said Kassapian’s lawyer, Stewart Karlin.
Kassapian’s suit comes on the heels of a case brought in July by the city’s longest-serving administrative law judge, Michelle Mirro, who also says the city coerced her into imposing maximum fines on small-business violations.
The city has reaped a fortune off penalties paid by small businesses.
Consumer Affairs issued 24,176 fines in the 2012 fiscal year, compared to 9,719 a decade earlier — a nearly threefold increase, records show. During that time, revenue from fines jumped from $4 million to $14 million.
The Health Department reaped $52 million in fines in 2012, more than six times the $8.2 million it collected in 2002.
Kassapian’s suit, filed Friday, accuses the city of retaliating against her for complaining that officials wrongly interfered with her rulings. It says Mayor Bloomberg’s DCA commissioner, Jonathan Mintz, condoned the unethical practices.
Her suit cites several examples in which she was “forced” to rule against small businesses in favor of the DCA:
  • She wanted to dismiss charges that a jewelry store did not keep book records of secondhand purchases and sales because the business was following an NYPD directive to record such purchases on an online system.
  • She recommended dismissing a charge against a parking company for failing to protect bike-parking spaces with a barrier.
  • She recommended dismissing a charge of unlicensed sidewalk activity by a Houston Street pub.
  • She wanted to reduce a funeral home’s fine for not displaying prices on caskets.
  • She recommended dismissing a charge of unlicensed sales on a stand outside a flower shop.
Kassapian’s suit is “flatly without merit,” a DCA spokesman said.

EXCLUSIVE: Consumer Affairs judge Michele Mirro claims she was pressured to find merchants guilty

Michele Mirro, a judge at the city's Department of Consumer Affairs, has been reversed by superiors in numerous cases where she recommended a 'not guilty' decision or a lower fine, according to her lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Jonathan Mintz

Comments (11) An administrative law judge at the city's Department of Consumer Affairs claims she was punished for resisting pressure from agency officials to find merchants guilty of violations and impose the maximum fines.
Michele Mirro, the longest-tenured judge at the agency, has been reversed by superiors in numerous cases where she recommended a "not guilty" decision or a lower fine, according to her lawsuit filed Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Mirro accuses superiors at DCA of forcing her to change her verdict in favor of the agency, or to raise the fine in many cases.


"She is not allowed to be a judge," Mirro's lawyer Stewart Karlin told the Daily News. "Her basic function as a judge is being trampled on."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A False Light on Corruption: The Moreland Commission

Governor Andrew Cuomo's lack of concern for, and/or knowledge of, New York State's informed citizens  on the issue of public corruption shows when he appointed members of his inner circle to The Moreland Commission.

The Moreland Commission became a joke. What Cuomo wanted to do is glorify himself by setting up a panel to hear about how wonderful he was, and instead, he heard the opposite. I doubt that any more hearings will be scheduled, and I think that Cuomo should admit he was misinformed about the anger and frustration in New York State against the public corruption which is rampant under his watch. People know that Cuomo is not above the other public officials, but is just as corrupt as any of them. Cuomo is, afterall, part of The Family, documented so well by Tom Fitton in his Corruption Chronicles..

Betsy Combier

Off the leash 

Gov. Cuomo's anti-corruption commission shows some teeth

Comments (1)


Time to play hardball.

Just when Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission seemed a dying quail, its leaders barraged the state’s major political parties with subpoenas — on top of issuing demands for information from the Legislature.
What explains the sudden show of aggression? You connect the dots.
Dot 1: Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman create the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, with the governor declaring that the panel would be an “independent” force, free to pursue all leads — including any that lead to his desk.
Dot 2: Daily News Albany Bureau Chief Kenneth Lovett reveals that the commission is not so independent after all. Sources tell Lovett that it dropped certain subpoenas under pressure from Cuomo’s top aides.
Dot 3: The shelved subpoenas include one aimed at the state Democratic Party’s “housekeeping” account, which had financed ads promoting the governor’s agenda. In one case, the commission actually delivers a subpoena to the Democrats’ ad-buying firm, then pulls it back.
Dot 4: Reform-minded voices, including this page, warn Cuomo that back-room meddling risks trashing the commission’s credibility — and ruining this generation’s last, best shot at cleaning up Albany.
Dot 5: In a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, Cuomo acknowledges that the panel is not truly independent since it answers to him and uses staff borrowed from his office. He also says that he was concerned only that all subpoenas approved by the commission’s co-chairs — Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Syracuse DA William Fitzpatrick and former federal prosecutor Milton Williams — would be legally defensible.
“If a subpoena is challenged — or the authority of the commission is challenged — and the commission loses, you go to a very bad place right away,” he said, adding that subpoenas were going out.
Dot 6 : A few hours later, the commission announces a unanimous vote to subpoena the “housekeeping” records after all — and not just from the Democrats, but also from the Republican, Conservative and Working Families parties, plus the housekeeping accounts controlled by legislative leaders.
“The meeting was like turning over a new leaf, a fresh start,” one insider told Lovett.
Sunlight brought a not-so-pretty picture into useful focus. Cuomo should stand back and let it stay that way.

Andrew Cuomo's Announcement He Was setting Up The Moreland Commission

NYS Governor introducing The Moreland Commission

NYC Moreland Commission on Public Corruption September 17, 2013

Testimony of Attorney Mark A. Sacha at The Moreland Commission

Governor Cuomo on NY Utility Companies

Will Galison's Interview With Moreland Commission Member John Amodeo AKA "John Owens"

Testimony of Elena Sassower at the Moreland Commission public meeting

Testimony of Will Galison at The Moreland Commission

Will Galison's attempted interview with Moreland Commission member Regina Calcaterra

From Elena Sassower:
Has the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption shut down public hearings because of conflicts of interest?

According to the terse October 15th “Statement From Moreland Commission Co-Chairs”, the Commission “will continue its mandate of investigating corruption…holding public hearings…”

When might those next “public hearings” be?   

Is the reason the Commission is NOT holding “public hearings” because they expose conflicts of interest of Commission members, advisors, and staff?  To date, the Commission has afforded the public only an hour and a half at a single public hearing – the Manhattan hearing – to testify as to the breadth of public corruption within its knowledge and experience.

The Commission’s conflicts of interest were highlighted by my testimony at the Commission’s September 17th Manhattan hearing and by the testimony of Mark Sacha at the Commission’s September 24th Albany hearing, to which I gave audible comment from the audience.    The video clips, as well as the full hearings, are here:

Attached is my October 17th letter to Commission members and special advisors on the subject.  It is posted, with my prior correspondence to the Commission, most importantly, my August 5th  and October 4th letters, here: .

I am available to answer your questions and to be interviewed.

Thank you.

Elena Sassower, Director
Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc. (CJA)
Cell: 646-220-7987

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Republican Super PAC Requests Cuomo's Moreland Records

6:02 am Oct. 15, 2013
A national Republican group is looking for fresh material to illustrate Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission problem.
Today, America Rising, a Republican super PAC, will file a Freedom of Information Law request for records related to the Cuomo administration's role in the commission's subpoena process.
Cuomo appointed the Moreland Commission in July, after legislators failed to pass a new ethics bill during the legislative session, despite a spate of arrests that include members of the State Legislature.
But the commission hasn't gone exactly as planned. Legislators promptly rebuffed requests to dislose their outside income, and when the commission's investigation expanded to include some Cuomo allies, the administration reportedly intervened to deflect the subpoenas. 
The letter from America Rising quotes two Daily News stories that reported commissioners were discouraged from issuing subpoenas to the Real Estate Board of New York and to the New York State Democratic Party. Neither of those groups was ultimately subpoenaed, though the state Republican and Independence parties did receive subpoenas.
"These reports indicate Governor Cuomo and his top aides have intervened in the affairs of an independent board to protect his political donors and advance the interests of his party, while launching partisan investigations against his opponents," writes Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising, in the FOIL request. "This would be a gross violation of the public trust."
America Rising specializes in opposition research, and was conceived in part as an answer to Democratic groups like American Bridge, which helped derail Todd Akin's Senate bid in Missouri, and repeatedly dinged Mitt Romney during the presidential election.
The group, which is based outside of Washington, D.C., was formed in March by Miller, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, and Joe Pounder, the R.N.C.'s former research director.
In his letter, Miller specifically requests any "copies of all physical and or electronic correspondence, memoranda, scheduled meetings and records of phone calls between the staff of Governor Andrew Cuomo and members and staff of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption" with regard to the Real Estate Board and party-related subpoenas.
Cuomo has denied that he personally intervened to affect the subpoena process, but the governor was less definitive about whether his aides may have been involved.
"You know that the Moreland Commission is staffed by people from the governor's office and the attorney general's office. We staff the commission,” Cuomo told reporters in Utica last week. “The co-chairs vote on what subpoenas to do and it requires a unanimous vote of the co-chairs.”
Targeting Cuomo would seem to reflect the governor's good standing heading into 2016. America Rising has put a particular focus on framing possible presidential candidates, including a "Stop Hillary" campaign that's hoping to damage or derail her potential candidacy.
The group also assists in contested congressional and gubernatorial elections, and it rankled members of Congress over the summer when it sent trackers into the Capitol building.
Cuomo's race for re-election is not currently expected to be competitive.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The City's Judge, Cynthia Kern, Dismisses Petition To Stop City Point Project in Brooklyn

Matter of Families United for Racial & Economic Equality v Bloomberg
2013 NY Slip Op 51640(U)
Decided on October 4, 2013
Supreme Court, New York County
Kern, J.
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on October 4, 2013 
Supreme Court, New York County

In the Matter of the Application of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, LOCAL 46 METALLIC LATHERS and REINFORCING IRONWORKERS, IRONWORKERS LOCAL 361, IRONWORKERS LOCAL 580, ENTERPRISE ASSOCIATION STEAMFITTERS LOCAL 638, CEMENT LEAGUE, INC. and NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER WALTER T. MOSLEY, Petitioners, For a Judgment Pursuant to Article 78 and § 7001 of the Civil Practice Law & Rules 




Cynthia S. Kern, J.

Petitioners Families United for Racial and Economic Equality ("Families United"), Local 46, Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers ("Metallic Lathers"), Ironworkers Local 361 ("Local 361"), Ironworkers Local 580 ("Local 580"), Enterprise Association Steamfitters Local 638 ("Enterprise"), Cement League, Inc. (the "Cement League") and New York State Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley ("Mr. Mosley") bring the instant proceeding (1) pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules ("CPLR") seeking to challenge respondents Michael Bloomberg, as Mayor of the City of New York ("Mayor Bloomberg"), Robert K. Steel, as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding ("Mr. Steel"), New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development ("HPD") and New York City Economic Development Corporation's ("EDC") determinations (a) refusing to issue a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement ("SEIS") addressing the cumulative impact of the development in Downtown Brooklyn since 2004 on the City Point Project's (the "Project") impact on the environment; and (b) refusing to issue an SEIS addressing the impact on the communities throughout Brooklyn of the payment of very low wages and no benefits for construction work on the Project; and (2) pursuant to CPLR § 7001 seeking to enjoin respondents Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Steel, HPD, EDC, New York City Housing Development Corporation ("HDC"), Acadia Realty Trust ("Acadia"), Albee Development LLC ("Albee"), Washington Square Partners, Inc. ("Washington Square") and BFC Partners Development LLC ("BFC") from taking any further actions in connection with financing or constructing the Project unless and until certain obligations are satisfied, including holding a new public hearing on the Project. Respondents Acadia, Albee, Washington Square and BFC (collectively referred to as the "developer respondents") move for an Order pursuant to CPLR §§ 3211(a)(2), (3) and (5) and 7804(f) dismissing the petition on the grounds that the claims contained in the petition are time-barred, unripe and that petitioners lack standing to bring the petition. Respondents Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Steel, HPD, EDC and HDC separately cross-move for an Order dismissing the petition on the same grounds. The motions are consolidated for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is denied and the motions to dismiss the petition are granted.
The relevant facts are as follows. Families United is a not-for-profit corporation composed of residents of Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods who support equitable community development to ensure equal access to affordable housing, good jobs and support services for low income and working class families. Metallic Lathers, Local 361, Local 580 and Enterprise are labor organizations with members who live within certain neighborhoods near the Project in Downtown Brooklyn. The Cement League is a not-for-profit corporation [*2]constituting an association of employers in the concrete construction industry that employ union craftsmen and craftswomen in New York City performing work similar to the work required for the Project. Mr. Mosley is the New York State Assembly Member for the 57th District which consists of the neighborhoods including Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, parts of Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant.
Acadia is an equity real estate investment trust which holds title to the Project through Acadia Realty Acquisition III LLC. Albee owns the leasehold in the Project now being developed by the other developer respondents. Washington Square is an equity owner of the Project in partnership with Acadia. BFC is the developer of Tower I of the Project. Mayor Bloomberg is the Mayor of the City of New York and Mr. Steel is the Deputy Mayor of the Office for Economic Development and Rebuilding which is the agency charged with conducting environmental review of the Project under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA") and the City Environmental Quality Review ("CEQR"). HPD is an agency of the City of New York charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with SEQRA for real estate projects for which it provides subsidies and which has provided financial support for the Project and is considering providing additional financial assistance for the Project. Finally, EDC and HDC are agencies of the City of New York which are authorized to make available publicly subsidized bonds for lawful real estate projects built within the City of New York and which have provided financial support for the Project and are considering providing additional financial assistance for the Project.
On April 30, 2004, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (the "2004 FEIS") was issued pursuant to SEQRA and CEQR by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding regarding the Project. The 2004 FEIS was supported by two days of public hearings held on March 24, 2004 and April 7, 2004 and revised the Draft EIS ("DEIS"), issued on November 28, 2003, to account for a potential mixed use arena development in the Atlantic Terminal Area of Brooklyn that could affect the conditions assessed in the DEIS. Petitioner Ms. James and Joy Chatel, a member of Families United, participated in the hearings and submitted oral and written comments on the DEIS. The 2004 FEIS identified a probable impact in six different areas of the 13 separate and distinct public approvals and changes to existing zoning and density rules required by the proposed development, which included Historic Resources, Hazardous Materials, Traffic, Transit and Pedestrians, Air Quality and Noise and forecast some potential negative impacts in each of those areas under the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan and suggested possible steps to mitigate the expected impacts on the environment. The City Council adopted the Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning in June 2004 and no legal challenge to the 2004 FEIS was brought.
EDC entered into a long-term ground lease agreement with Albee in 2007 to develop the Project on New York City-owned land at the intersection of DeKalb and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn (the "2007 Lease"). The development for the Project set forth in the 2007 Lease differed from that contemplated in the 2004 FEIS in part by its inclusion of 1,064 residential units and a reduction in commercial office space of 1.1 million square feet. The 2007 Lease also contained a provision regarding the wages that must be paid to the construction workers who labor to construct the Project, namely, that "all persons employed by Tenant with respect to Construction Work, shall be paid, without subsequent deduction or rebate unless authorized by [*3]law not less than the minimum hourly rate required by law."
The 2007 Lease was the subject of a public hearing held by Mayor Bloomberg's Office of Contract Services ("OCS") on May 25, 2007. Members of Families United participated in the public hearing and submitted oral and written comments critical of the terms of the 2007 Lease. However, neither Families United nor the other petitioners brought a legal challenge to the award of the 2007 Lease to Albee. Also in connection with the proposed Lease, in or around July 2007, New York City issued a Modification Technical Memorandum (the "2007 MTM") to the 2004 FEIS pursuant to SEQRA in order "to determine whether the changes to the previously approved Downtown Brooklyn Development project, which was the subject of the [2004 FEIS], or changes in background conditions from 2004 to 2007 would alter the conclusions presented in the 2004 FEIS and would result in any significant adverse environmental impacts that were not previously identified." The 2007 MTM analyzed, among other things, whether changes to the Project would result in socioeconomic or cumulative impacts that were not identified in the 2004 FEIS. Specifically, the 2007 MTM found that the revised plan for the Project would result in the displacement of businesses which employed 332 workers in 2007 but that such displacement did not meet the criteria for significant adverse displacement as outlined in the 2001 CEQR Technical Manual and represented less than 1 percent of the 2002 total Study Area employment as reported in the 2004 FEIS. Thus, the 2007 MTM concluded that no new significant environmental impacts would be created and that an SEIS was not warranted. No legal challenge was brought regarding such determination.
In June 2009, Albee applied to the New York City Industrial Development Agency for Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to help fund Phase I of the Project. On September 10, 2009, the New York City Capital Resources Corporation ("CRC") held a public hearing on the issue of whether to approve $20 million in bonds for the Project. Members of Families United submitted written testimony opposing the issuance of the bonds, which were ultimately issued by the City. Also in 2009, the City publicly proposed modifications to the 2007 Lease that would permit the Project to be developed in phases rather than as a single-phase development. Members of Families United participated in the public hearing held on the proposed lease modification on December 22, 2009 and again submitted comments critical of the Project, including comments that the Project would not provide enough affordable housing and was not providing appropriate relocation support to local residents displaced by the Project. HPD prepared responses to Families United's comments, which were submitted to OCS along with a recommendation that the modified lease be approved. The modified ground lease was executed in 2010 (the "2010 Lease") and no legal challenge to the City's action was brought by petitioners.
The first phase of the Project ("Phase I") consisted of a 50,000 square foot retail building and was completed in early 2012. The second phase of the Project ("Phase II") began in July 2012 and will include approximately 600,000 square feet of additional retail space and two residential towers to be constructed above the space. The first residential tower ("Tower 1"), which is being developed by BFC and financed by HDC, will contain approximately 250 units, half of which will allegedly be earmarked for affordable housing. The second residential tower ("Tower 2"), which is being developed by The Brodsky Organization and Michael Field, will contain approximately 440 market rate units. Phase III, which has not yet begun, will consist of an approximately 560,000 square foot tower with retail, residential and office space. [*4]
On October 5, 2012, counsel for petitioners wrote to Acadia advising it that they had reason to believe that on Phase I of the Project, the construction workers were paid an hourly wage of $15 for hours worked with no benefits at all and requested information on the Project concerning the labor conditions, safety record and extent of public financing. On October 16, 2012, Acadia responded but petitioners allege it did not provide any of the requested information regarding the wages, paid time off or employment benefit information and advised that "[a]lthough many of your statements are untrue, we do not believe that a letter is the appropriate forum in which to educate you as to the actual facts regarding the City Point Project."
On March 4, 2013, some of the petitioners sent a letter to the City respondents demanding that they conduct an SEIS to analyze the cumulative impact of the Project on the surrounding neighborhoods and to take into account the failure of the 2004 FEIS and the 2007 MTM to analyze the impact of the low wages to be paid on the Project on the socioeconomic conditions of the communities affected by the Project. These petitioners asserted that the outdated 2004 FEIS, based on hearings held nine years ago, was not a realistic assessment of the burdens being imposed on the Downtown Brooklyn communities given the extraordinary development that has occurred in Downtown Brooklyn in the last nine years. These petitioners further allege that Mr. Steel and the City respondents have ignored the request. Petitioners then commenced the instant Article 78 proceeding.
This court finds that petitioners do not have standing to bring their claims under SEQRA. Initially, petitioners do not have standing to challenge respondents' alleged failure to prepare an SEIS reviewing the impact of the low wages being paid to the construction workers on the Project on the Downtown Brooklyn communities. In order to establish standing to bring a claim under SEQRA, an individual petitioner must show (1) "that the in-fact injury of which it complains...falls within the zone of interests,' or concerns, sought to be promoted or protected by the statutory provision under which the agency has acted"; and (2) "that it would suffer direct harm, injury that is in some way different from that of the public at large." See Soc'y of Plastics Indus., Inc. v. Cnty. of Suffolk, 77 NY2d 761, 773-774 (1991). It is well-settled that economic injury alone will not provide standing to challenge environmental review under SEQRA as only certain socioeconomic impacts have been identified as within its zone of interests. See Mobile Oil Corp. v. Syracuse Indus. Dev. Agency, 76 NY2d 428 (1990). In the present case, petitioners have failed to establish that the injury of which they complain falls within the zone of interest of SEQRA as the injuries are purely economic in nature. Notably, petitioners cite no precedent supporting the notion that low wages for construction workers are a recognized environmental impact within SEQRA's purview. Petitioners' assertion that the Project's failure to pay its workers prevailing wages confers standing because it affects existing patterns of population concentration in the community and neighborhood character is without merit as petitioners provide no basis for such assertion.
Petitioners also do not have standing to challenge respondents' failure to prepare an SEIS reviewing the socioeconomic impact of the Project on the Downtown Brooklyn communities since the 2004 FEIS was prepared due to the indirect nature of such harms. The burden of establishing standing to raise a claim is on the party seeking review. See Soc'y of Plastics Indus., Inc., 77 NY2d 761. Where the issue of standing is disputed, "perfunctory allegations of harm" are insufficient; petitioners "must prove that their injury is real and different from the injury most [*5]members of the public face." Tuxedo Land Trust, Inc. v. Town of Tuxedo, 34 Misc 3d 1235(A) (Sup. Ct. Orange Cty. 2012), citing Save the Pine Bush, Inc. v. Common Council of City of Albany, 13 NY3d 297, 306 (2009). SEQRA does not have a general citizen suit provision, thereby narrowing the class of persons who may bring SEQRA-based challenges to agency action. Id. at 771. "Had the Legislature intended that every person or every citizen have the right to sue to compel SEQRA compliance—thus assuring above all else that the EIS process would be scrupulously followed, irrespective of the source of the challenge—it could easily have so provided; it did not." Soc'y of Plastics, 77 NY2d at 770.
An allegation of close proximity to a project "may give rise to an inference of injury enabling a nearby party to challenge an administrative determination without proof of actual injury" because of the unique types of environmental or land use injuries that those living near a project may face. Comm. to Pres. Brighton Beach & Manhattan Beach, Inc. v. Planning Comm'n of City of New York, 259 AD2d 26, 32-33 (1st Dept 1999); see also Gernatt Asphalt Products, Inc. v. Town of Sardinia, 87 NY2d 668 (1996). However, "[t]he status of neighbor does not...automatically provide the entitlement, or admission ticket, to judicial review in every instance" because a petitioner's proximity, even if in the neighborhood, still may be far enough away that the effect on the petitioner is no different than that suffered by the public generally. Sun-Brite Car Wash, Inc. v. Bd. of Zoning & Appeals of Town of North Hempstead, 69 NY2d 406, 414 (1987). There must also be something about living in the immediate proximity of the Project that exacerbates the direct impact of the Project of which the party complains. See Ziemba v. City of Troy, 37 AD3d 68 (3d Dept 2006).
In the present case, petitioners' assertion that they have standing based on the fact that certain members of Families United live in near the Project is insufficient to establish standing. The only allegation made to support such assertion is that increased development in the area around the Project since both the 2004 FEIS and the 2007 MTM were prepared will "place stress on the community's transportation, public protection, water and sewer services and will change the neighborhood character by increasing the availability of luxury housing..." and the petition lists a few members of Families United who live close to or near the Project. However, such an allegation describes the effect of the Project on the community as a whole and is insufficient to establish standing as petitioners have not established that any harm they will experience will be more direct than the harm experienced by others located around the borough. Therefore, petitioners have failed to allege a specific injury based on proximity and have failed to establish standing.
That portion of the petition which seeks to challenge respondents' (a) refusal to issue an SEIS addressing the cumulative impact of the development in Downtown Brooklyn since 2004; and (b) refusal to issue an SEIS addressing the impact on the communities throughout Brooklyn of the payment of very low wages and no benefits for construction work on the Project must also be denied on the ground that it is time-barred. There is a four month statute of limitations to bring an Article 78 proceeding to challenge an administrative determination that is measured from the date the determination becomes final and binding upon the petitioner. See NY CPLR § 217. Agency action is "final and binding upon a petitioner" when the agency has reached a definitive position on the issue that inflicts actual, concrete injury and when the injury inflicted may not be prevented or significantly ameliorated by further administrative action or steps [*6]available to the complaining party. Best Payphones, Inc. v. Department of Information, Technology and Communications of City of New York, 5 NY3d 30 (2005). Further, the statute of limitations begins to run "when the agency adopts plans committing itself to a course of action which may affect the environment." Metro. Museum Historic Dist. Coal. v. De Montebello, 20 AD3d 28, 35 (1st Dept 2005).
In this case, all relevant determinations were made more than four months before this action was commenced. The City respondents made their final determination approving plans for the Project in the 2004 FEIS issued on April 30, 2004. Therefore, petitioners had four months from then to challenge the sufficiency of the 2004 FEIS but failed to do so. Additionally, the 2007 MTM, another final determination, was issued in July 2007. Thus, petitioners had four months from then to challenge the sufficiency of the report but again failed to do so. Petitioners have been actively involved in the various public hearings and review processes for the Project and for the Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning, beginning at least as early as 2003, when the DEIS was available for comment. Additionally, petitioners participated in public hearings involving the Project in 2007 and 2009, specifically regarding the 2007 Lease and the 2009 proposed modification to the 2007 Lease. However, petitioners did not commence legal action to challenge the sufficiency of the environmental review for any of these actions.
Petitioners' assertion that their request that respondents prepare an SEIS started the statute of limitations and thus, the petition is timely as this proceeding was brought within four months of that request is without merit. The First Department has specifically held that a request to prepare such a supplemental review may not be used to circumvent the four-month statute of limitations.See Metro. Museum Historic Dist. Coal., 20 AD3d at 28. In that case, a group of local residents sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art and various City agencies midway through a construction project to expand the Museum. The Article 78 petition was filed three years after the New York City Department of Parks had approved the plan for the museum expansion but petitioners argued that the statute of limitations should run from the date of a letter they sent to respondents demanding that SEQRA review be undertaken regarding the impact of the museum expansion and not from the date that project approvals were issued. In denying petitioners' appeal, the First Department stated, 

We reject petitioners' attempt to circumvent the four-month statutory period by characterizing this proceeding as one in the nature of mandamus, as the statute of limitations begins to run from the time of the agency's determination, and not from petitioners' demand that the Parks Department conduct a SEQRA review of the project. 

Id. at 36. Thus, the ability to challenge past agency actions on SEQRA grounds cannot be resuscitated by requesting in writing that an SEIS be prepared as the time to challenge alleged deficiencies in the environmental review of an agency action is at the time the agency takes action. See Sierra Club, Inc. v. Power Auth. of State of NY, 203 AD2d 15 (1st Dept 1994)(petitioners' request for an agency's declaratory ruling on the applicability of SEQRA was merely a subterfuge to revive time-barred claims as the challenge was actually to the prior administrative action and was thus beyond the statute of limitations); see also Bonar v. Shaffer, 140 AD2d 153 (1st Dept 1988)(Department of State's refusal to provide an advisory opinion concerning the validity of its own regulations was not improper "particularly since it appears that [*7]petitioner's renewal of communications with the Department of State after the passage of more than a year following approval of the conditional license may have been a subterfuge to revive the limitations period for the purpose of maintaining an article 78 proceeding").
Petitioners' assertion that the petition is timely because the request for an SEIS was made based on the requirement that respondents review the environmental impact of the Project pursuant to SEQRA as new information becomes known is also without merit. An agency performing pursuant to SEQRA has a "continuing duty to evaluate new information relevant to the environmental impact of its that important new information will not be ignored by the decision maker." Matter of Glen Head-Glenwood Landing Civil Council, Inc. v. Town of Oyster Bay, 88 AD2d 484, 494 (2d Dept 1982); see also 6 NYCRR § 617.9(a)(7)(i)(b). However, in this case, petitioners have not established what, if any, new information exists since the 2007 MTM was prepared which would require respondents to prepare an SEIS. The assertion that the payment of non-prevailing wages to construction workers on the Project was "new information" is without basis as the wage requirement for the Project was made final in 2007 and petitioners had the opportunity to challenge it at that time. However, even if that information could be considered "new," any wage claim under SEQRA is foreclosed as any injury based on such claim is purely economic. Additionally, even if petitioners were not aware of the wage issue in 2007, they became aware of such issue as early as October 2012 when they claim to have received information about the wages being paid to the construction workers on the Project. However, petitioners waited over five months to request that the City respondents prepare an SEIS reviewing the impact of these wages. Therefore, such claims are time-barred.
Additionally, that portion of petitioners' petition which seeks to enjoin respondents from taking any further actions in connection with financing or constructing the Project unless and until certain obligations are satisfied, including holding a new public hearing on the Project is denied on that ground that such claims are unripe for review. It is well-settled that an Article 78 proceeding may only be brought to challenge a final agency determination. CPLR § 7801. A court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to issue an opinion in the absence of a genuine legal dispute and thus does not have discretion as to whether to entertain an unripe claim. See Combustion Eng'g, Inc. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 75 AD2d 777 (1st Dept 1980). In order for an agency action to be deemed ripe for review, two criteria must be satisfied: (1) "the action must impose an obligation, deny a right or fix some legal relationship as a consummation of the administrative process...[meaning] a pragmatic evaluation [must be made] of whether the" decision maker has arrived at a definitive position on the issue that inflicts an actual, concrete injury; and (2) there must be a finding that the apparent harm inflicted by the action "may not be prevented or significantly ameliorated by further administrative action or by steps available to the complaining party." Gordon v. Rush, 100 NY2d 236, 242 (2003).
In the instant action, petitioners' request for an injunction preventing respondents from taking any further action in connection with future financing of the Project, including issuing tax exempt bonds, unless and until respondents have satisfied their alleged obligations under SEQRA and CEQR is denied as unripe. Petitioners base their request for such relief on an anticipated failure of the City respondents to conduct reviews under SEQRA and CEQR prior to providing any further financial support for the Project. However, the request is premature as there is no final agency determination for this court to review. See Town of Riverhead v. Cent. [*8]Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Comm'n, 71 AD3d 679 (2d Dept 2010)(claim is not ripe where planning board had not yet made a determination as to approval of a development project). As respondents have affirmed they have not yet made a determination approving the financing or subsidies anticipated in the petition, there has been no actual, concrete injury. Petitioners have also failed to demonstrate that any harm associated with such prospective determinations could not be prevented or significantly ameliorated by further administrative action or by steps available to petitioners such as future opportunities to comment and for the City respondents to consider their comments. See Hells' Kitchen Neighborhood Ass'n v. N.Y.C. Dep't of City Planning, 6 Misc 3d 1031(a) (Sup. Ct. NY Cty. 2004)(claim of SEQRA injury unripe where SEQRA process had not concluded and petitioners still had future opportunities to comment and for the agency to consider their comments).
Accordingly, respondents' motions to dismiss the petition are granted and the petition is denied. The petition is hereby dismissed in its entirety. This constitutes the decision and order of the court. 

Dated:October 4, 2013Enter: ______________________________