Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Hevesi Gets Bus Contract Records
By Mohamad Bazzi

The Giuliani administration has turned over records to Comptroller Alan Hevesi in his probe of a Staten Island bus contract.

The Economic Development Corp. provided the contract and related documents Thursday after Hevesi slapped the agency with a subpoena. It marked the first time Hevesi used his subpoena powers to get information from a public agency.

"We have complied with the comptroller's subpoena," said EDC vice president Bruce Brodoff.

Hevesi's aides said Friday they are reviewing the material to determine whether the EDC complied fully.

Hevesi's office requested the documents last month after Newsday reported that the administration had bypassed the usual franchise process - which requires public hearings and City Council approval - when it awarded the contract through EDC.

When EDC, a quasi-public agency largely shielded from scrutiny, did not respond, Hevesi issued a subpoena July 27.

Hevesi's action came days after a rival Democratic mayoral candidate, Council Speaker Peter Vallone, sued the administration, arguing it violated the City Charter. Private bus companies are required under the charter to obtain a franchise before operating on city streets.

The process also stirred charges of favoritism because the winning bidder, Atlantic Express Inc., is a politically connected company whose president has made campaign contributions to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari and other Republicans.

But company officials say they have become victims of mayoral politics.

"Everything that's happened here has been politically charged," said Atlantic Express spokeswoman Carolyn Daly. "Staten Islanders need this service and this contract shouldn't be used as a political football."

Daly said the company is glad that EDC turned over the documents to Hevesi. "This was a competitive bid," she said. "The comptroller will now be able to see how credible and legitimate the process was."

The franchise process, which can take more than a year, requires environmental reviews, public hearings, and approval from the City Planning Commission and the council.

Administration officials say the new routes did not require a franchise because they will partly run through New Jersey. Officials say they used the EDC to expedite the contract - worth $2 million a year in state subsidies - because Staten Island's South Shore has lacked bus service for years.

EDC contracts do not need to go through either a public hearing or a review by the comptroller's office.

Giuliani has used the EDC to negotiate other controversial deals, such as building minor-league stadiums in Brooklyn and Staten Island and privatizing the city's airports.

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