Friday, March 14, 2008

Ex-ESDC Chairman Gargano's ambassadorship derailed

Many watching Atlantic Yards observed Charles Gargano, Gov. George Pataki's appointee as chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, as a stumbler, dissembler, a cheerleader, a canny politician, and, of course, the governor's chief fundraiser. At the very least, Gargano--unlike, say, certain developers--was willing to take questions from the press, even if he didn't answer them fully.

Now comes the news that Gargano, whom the Bush Administration nominated last November to be ambassador to Austria--a step up in size and weather from his one-time post in Trinidad and Tobago--won't be taking the post after all, as the New York Sun reported today.

"The withdrawal likely signals opposition from leading Democrats," the Sun noted. Given the Democratic majority in the Senate, it's likely that stories of unseemly connections, recounted in Radar online, have some had some sway, along with reports of a "slush fund" controlled by Gargano at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and a tale of nepotism on the Brooklyn waterfront.

None of those charges refer to Gargano's stewardship of the Atlantic Yards project, where the scandal might be--in the parlance of Michael Kinsley--not what's illegal, but what's legal, such as dubious declarations of blight.

A lawyer quoted anonymously by Radar said, "Many people think of Charlie Gargano as a shady political opportunist. He is not. He is a classy political opportunist."

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