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June 13, 2008

Feds get Yonkers computer drives

RidgeHillProg-JN.jpg The Journal News
By Len Maniace

In the latest twist in the investigation into the approval of Forest City Ratner's other highly controversial local megaproject, the feds have seized the computers of all seven Yonkers City Councilmembers.

The city has turned over the computer hard drives of all seven City Council members to federal investigators who are probing the council's handling of the 81-acre Ridge Hill development.

The hard drives were removed under a subpoena issued this year that had sought a variety of information, including council e-mails....

The article includes this good recap of events leading up to this latest subpoena:

The $630 million Ridge Hill development, now under construction along the New York State Thruway across from the Stew Leonard shopping center, faced opposition from community residents, a lawsuit from neighboring municipalities and difficulty winning approval from City Council.

Developers Forest City Ratner fought back, lobbying the City Council strongly. In June 2006, Council member Sandy Annabi, D-2nd District, dropped her opposition, providing the key fifth vote for the council supermajority needed to approve the project's zone change. Annabi switched her vote after the developer agreed to pay Yonkers an additional $10 million over three years.

The first set of subpoenas came in March 2007, seeking meeting agendas, tapes of meetings and voting records from 2004 until then as well as financial disclosure statements filed by then-city Republican Chairman Zehy Jereis.

The next subpoenas arrived in early February of this year. They ordered council members to testify before a federal grand jury in White Plains and sought information on increased water rates, higher fees for building and fire safety inspections, and the Longfellow project, a redevelopment plan involving two shuttered Yonkers schools.

More than a month ago, federal prosecutors subpoenaed financial disclosure forms and e-mails to and from Annabi and e-mails to and from council member Patricia McDow, D-1st District. They also issued a grand jury subpoena to Assemblyman Michael Spano, D-Yonkers.


Posted by lumi at June 13, 2008 4:48 AM