In fact, one of the opponents’ complaints about the football stadium was that it had been removed from that process and was rezoned by the state Empire State Development Corporation, where it would be insulated from local politics. And one of Ms. Quinn’s real breakthroughs once the stadium proposal died was convincing the Bloomberg administration, and then the M.T.A., to undertake that local review.
However, Ms. Quinn got involved in shaping the rezoning proposal that she will later be asked to vote on. In a letter accompanying the request for proposals issued on July 13, Ms. Quinn wrote, “I look forward to reviewing, and fully expect to support, an application for rezoning of the Western Rail Yard that complies in all substantial respects with the design guidelines ….”
“They didn’t want it to be done in the back room by E.S.D.C., so what they did was had it done in a back room in the City Council and Mayor’s office,” said Douglas Durst, a developer bidding on the rail yards. “It’s curious. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. In order to avoid having a back-room process they ended up having a back-room process.”
Her detractors suggest that Ms. Quinn has become increasingly friendly toward the real estate industry as she toys with a mayoral run in 2009. City Council Member Tony Avella, who has declared his candidacy for that post (and who has raised just $103,465 so far to do it), says, “Her attitude has changed completely from when she was just a City Council Member.”
His example: a set of bills he proposed that would have curtailed the power of, or increased representation on, the Board of Standards and Appeals, an obscure panel that can grant exceptions to zoning rules if developers show a need for them.
“When I introduced this in 2002, she immediately signed on and was a supporter of the legislation,” the Queens Democrat said. “And, lo and behold, she is opposing both bills now.”
A ROUGH TALLY BY The Observer of her latest campaign filings show that Ms. Quinn has raised at least $262,745 from the real estate industry since last October, about 20 percent of the $1.4 million she’s received in private contributions. Some of these came from executives at companies that are considering bidding on the rail yards, among them Steven Roth, the chief executive of Vornado Realty Trust, who, with his wife Daryl, each gave the maximum $4,950, as did Stephen Ross, the chief executive of the Related Companies, and Mr. Durst. Robert Speyer, senior managing director of Tishman Speyer, bundled $17,325 the records show.
By comparison, just $5,760 out of the total $138,717 that Ms. Quinn reported for her 2003 council re-election appears to have come from real estate professionals.
Mr. Durst, who has supported Ms. Quinn on previous campaigns, says that he has done so because “she is doing a very good job,” and has long held an interest in her district because he is co-chairman of the Friends of Hudson River Park, and the park lies in her district.