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Turner pats himself on the back for Park51 funding protest; Weprin gets FDNY union backing

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 04:13 PM

Jerry Sullivan addresses the press with Chief Dolan, left, and a supporter at today's protest. (Arun Venugopal / WNYC)

Late yesterday morning I received this in an email about a protest today.

FURIOUS NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTERS AND OFFICERS  AND 9/11 FAMILY MEMBERS WILL DEMAND THAT NO TAXPAYER MONEY GO IN TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF GROUND ZERO MOSQUE AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY, AUGUST 22ND  AT 12 NOON OUTSIDE ST. PAUL'S  CHURCH YARD AT THE CORNER  OF CHURCH AND VESEY  STREETS IN DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN.

The funds in question were part of a $17 million Federal block grant the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation received. Last September LMDC announced it was accepting applications from "not-for-profit and government organizations engaged in cultural or community programs or projects that benefit the residents, workers, and communities of Lower Manhattan."

In November 2010, Park51 announced it was applying for a portion of the funds on its website:

Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant which would in part fund social service programs for all the residents of Lower Manhattan such as domestic violence prevention, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services.

There were a few notes in the press at the time. As LMDC has not official announced who will be receiving the funds, there isn't any specific, recent event that might trigger renewed interest in the subject. Except. of course, for Republican Bob Turner's congressional race out in Queens.

Turner's been reviving the specter of the "ground zero mosque" withtelevision advertisements and regular press releases hammering his opponent, Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin, for supporting the project in the past. Last week Turner's campaign seized on the dormant issue of the Federal funds. "Not one penny of taxpayer money should be spent building that Mosque," Mr. Turner said in a statement last week.

The protest announced yesterday drew just three attendees. Not even Tim Brown, one of Park51's biggest opponents, was reportedly there but did not join the group.

"I'm comfortable now with them building their mosque here, I'm over that," said protester Jerry Sullivan, who lost his brother on 9/11. "But as a citizen of this country I do believe that we should have the right to ask our government not to provide them with funding."

Signs at today's protest. (Arun Venugopal / WNYC)

New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Dolan, one of the protest organizers, turned the event towards the political after he claimed the Park51 developers had already tried and failed to secure Federal funding. "We can all rest assured that when they get their legal ducks in order, they'll be back to request these funds again," Dolan said. "And when they do come back and request the funds, we will have our elected officials be prepared to tell them 'no'."

Shortly after the protest was over, the Turner campaign sent out a statement:

The Ground Zero Mosque developer was quietly trying to make U.S. taxpayers pay for his project -- without them knowing about it.  I am pleased that I was able to bring attention to his outrageous scheme, and even more pleased to learn that brave New York City firefighters have taken up a call against it. Not a dime of taxpayer money should go to the Ground Zero Mosque, and, as a member of Congress, I'll do everything in my power to stop the developer's effort to get federal funding for it.

It is certainly arguable that Park51's as-of-yet undetermined application for Lower Manhattan redevelopment funds would not be something being discussed right now if it weren't for the Turner campaign. Request for a statement from Park51 weren't returned, but a spokesperson with the group confirmed they were not aware that a decision had been made either way about the funds.

There is one thing to specifically note on how LMDC will distribute the funds. There are 266 applicants for funds, and the process has been called very competitive. That being said, there is a requirement that bodes ill for Park51: verifiable non-profit status. The organization has applied for nonprofit status, but it is still in the application process. Given this, it seems unlikely Park51 will meet the requirements for funds.

In related but separate news, Weprin picked up the support of the firefighters' unions yesterday out in Queens.

"Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect New Yorkers, and we need leaders like David Weprin fighting on the front lines for us in Washington,” said the firefighters' officers' union president President Al Hagan. “At every opportunity, David Weprin has stood up for firefighters--by supporting working men and women at every turn and fighting to protect the homeland security funding that ensures we can do our jobs safely and effectively. [W]e enthusiastically endorse David Weprin for the United States Congress."

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Comments [3]

Weprin gets FDNY backing, boy that sure says alot.  Has FDNY forgotten the losses they and we New York City citizens suffered on 9/11?  Shame on those who are supporting this man.  Turner has their backs, that a union endorses a candidate says it all though. 

Aug. 22 2011 11:24 PM

While Bloombergistan has done everything possible to make sure this mosque gets built, we the people are still against it, 71% of all New Yorkers made their voices heard, 71% of all Americans did the same and all of us let Bloomberg, Obama and every news media know that we do not want that mosque built there.  Its an insult to our dead, our first responders, the families of those who died both on 911 and afterwards from working on the pile etc.  Still Bloombergistan has his marching orders from Obama, our Muslim socialist president who has 3 high ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood surrounding him to insure all of his decisions are approved by them.   I tell you these things so you know what's going on in America.

Joan Cares and I are grateful to Mr. Turner for bringing attention to this issue.  We don't want Park 51 (by any other name) to get one red cent of our taxpayer dollars.  Check out today's NY Post for the article on the bottom of pg 7 on Sharif El Gamal's partner, Hisham Elzanaty's fraudulent kickback scam he's been engaged in for years, he bills Allstate Insurance on Long Island for medical bills and gets illegal fee splits for it. 

You've all seen the articles on the criminal history these two men have and that Imam Rauf's tenant violations where he forced tenants to make repairs to his building which was falling apart and unsafe to live in. 

Are these the people you want your taxpayer dollars to go to?  I think we can do better.  Don't you!

Aug. 22 2011 11:20 PM
Joanrcares

I
wish they had the facts straight.  Number one Sharif El-Gamal proudly
announced he was given non-profit status retroactively. Number two we can't
wait, At the LMDC board of directors meeting the end of April the applications
committee was instructed by the Chairman that decisions were to be reached by
end of summer.

I
have never seen any of these people at the board meetings fighting this... This
isn't a new issue I have been at it for 8 months and would be happy to share
information with them before it's too late.

Aug. 22 2011 10:30 PM

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