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Queens Chronicle

Corruption, interrupted

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Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:00 pm

Gov. Cuomo has made great strides in cleaning up Albany with his new ethics reform measures and general better practices, but there’s still a lot of muck remaining from the capital’s longstanding culture of corruption.

One big example is raising the ire of people in eastern Queens, where former state Sen. Frank Padavan and state Assembly-woman Barbara Clark authorized a massive property sale at the state’s Creedmoor psychiatric facility several years ago. Now Clark is trying to continue the charade.

Thanks to Padavan and Clark, the Floral Park-based Indian Cultural and Community Center got to buy 4.5 acres of Creedmoor grounds for $1.8 million, though it was valued at $7.3 million. For you bargain hunters out there, that’s 75 percent off.

The plan was to build a single-story community center. But now Clark is trying to get a Senate sponsor for another bill that would let the group buy six more acres (price unknown as of now). And what would the ICCC do with it? Build two nine-story apartment buildings. Clark says she didn’t know.

Both Padavan and Clark have received campaign contributions from the ICCC. And this is how the game has been played: shady backroom deals, no accountability, no community notification, taxpayer money spent like it was Monopoly money. Who wins? The donors. The pols. Who loses? You.

Now it appears the deal will fall through thanks to residents’ opposition and state Sen. Tony Avella, Padavan’s successor, who isn’t playing ball. Instead he’s blowing the whistle.

Kudos to Avella. With more politicians like him, continued civic involvement and a new governor serious about cleaning house, we may just be turning a corner in Albany. There may be a white light of integrity at the end of the long, dark tunnel we’ve been in.

Welcome to the discussion.