Thursday, July 7, 2011

Charles Barron backs Brooklyn complex after developer vows cash for ex-aide's 'confidential' plan

Thursday, July 7th 2011, 4:00 AM

Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron speaks at press conference earlier this week.
Carolina Hidalgo for News
Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron speaks at press conference earlier this week.

Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron steered $3 million from a big developer to a community group run by a longtime political aide, the Daily News has learned.

Barron threw his support behind the Related Companies' plan for the massive Gateway II shopping complex in East New York after the firm signed a secret benefits agreement pledging the cash to a coalition run by Andre (A.T.) Mitchell, Barron's former aide.

The Daily News reported Wednesday that Barron and his wife, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, also pumped $350,000 in taxpayer money to Mitchell's nonprofit Man Up! Inc., which helps inmates reenter society.

Barron told The News on Wednesday he encouraged Related to work on a deal with Mitchell.

"Absolutely, I recommended A.T. to Related," Barron said.

"There would have to be other groups in there" besides Mitchell's, he added. He would not answer any other questions about the 2009 deal signed in Barron's office.

Mitchell is the only signatory. Half a dozen spaces for other community groups are left blank.

The benefits agreement doles out $3 million for job training and other programs over six years to a coalition of "community-based organizations."

Mitchell insists seven other local nonprofits, businesses and advocates are members of the group.

Similar benefits deals for projects like Related's Bronx Terminal Market and Columbia University's expansion have been proudly touted by local pols - but the East New York deal was stamped "confidential."

No money has changed hands, because the deal doesn't take effect until the developer gets financing and starts building.

"We just want to provide a meaningful service to our backyard and our community," Mitchell said.

He called the coalition "a very diverse group of the community: business people, day care owners, nonprofit organizations."

A source said Barron discussed pushing Related to strike a deal with Mitchell's group as early as 2006 - when Mitchell was still on the city payroll as a Council aide. Mitchell denied that.

Since brokering the deal, Barron has clashed with Related over reports that the developer might build the city's first Walmart at Gateway - a move he fiercely opposes.

Post a Comment