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Term-limited City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is fast-tracking legislation that advocates say would exempt a politically-connected southeast Queens carting company from caps on the number of trucks they can accept, The Post has learned.
The bill has just one sponsor — the area’s equally termed-out local Councilman, I. Daneek Miller (D-Queens).
And Johnson is moving the legislation even though the Sanitation Committee chairman, Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), is out of the country.
“That’s the obvious connection — that Daneek endorsed Corey,” said Jen Guiterrez, the Democratic nominee to succeed Reynoso on the Council. “There’s just no other logic – there’s so many bills being waited on to be heard, and this is the bill? This is the one you want to prioritize?”
Council insiders were just as irate.
“Advocates worked on this bill for years with a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” said one.
“And now it’s being undone with no input at all,” the person added. “At the very least, the optics are terrible.”
Johnson’s campaign put out a press release on June 15, touting Miller selecting the speaker as his second pick in the ranked-choice primary contest for the Democratic nomination to become the Big Apple’s next comptroller.
Miller’s first choice — state Sen. Brian Benjamin (D-Manhattan) — was badly lagging in the polls and the contest was widely viewed as having consolidated into a face-off between Johnson and Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) and Lander eventually won.
The Queens lawmaker introduced the bill two days after Johnson’s campaign blasted out the press release.
Miller’s legislation was then referred to the Sanitation Committee for a June 24 hearing, where no vote was taken.
Johnson scheduled the committee to reconvene again to hear the legislation — even with Reynoso’s absence — just an hour before a vote by the full Council on Thursday afternoon, according to documents and sources.
Environmental advocates say Miller’s legislation would cut a major loophole into a 2018 law that slashed the capacity of waste transfer stations in four community boards as a way to improve living conditions in the neighborhoods and make streets safer by reducing the number of trucks on them.
The capacity of the trash stations in Miller’s Community Board 12 was cut by 33 percent.
However, the reform exempted transfer stations that ship garbage out of the city via barge or rail access to bolster non-truck-based trash shipments.
Miller’s legislation would lift the cap on the facilities for as many as four years, provided the owners of those sites file plans to bring in rail access.
“It is appalling that the same legislative body that passed a carefully drafted, negotiated and thought-through landmark Environmental Justice law–the Waste Equity Law of 2018 — is now rushing through a bill without a single co-sponsor,” said Melissa Iachan, a spokeswoman at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
Environmental and neighborhood activists say the change would benefit Royal Waste Services, a transfer station owned by the well-connected Reali family, which donates regularly to pols in the area.
Campaign finance records show the family has given more than $50,000 to city and state politicians over the last two decades, including $1500 to Miller’s last reelection campaign in 2017.
Miller and Johnson both defended the push and fiercely disputed the allegation of favor-trading linked to the endorsement, with a spokeswoman for Johnson calling it “absurd.”
“I never ever cut a deal with the speaker,” said Miller. “We never had a conversation about this bill ever.”
The pair separately argued the legislation would allow the company to gain financing for its plan to build a rail spur to cart out the trash — and claim that truck traffic may not increase even with the lifting of the cap.
“They’ve never reached their cap, we don’t expect that to happen now,” Miller said. “We have to take the next step for the future generation, we have to do something and we have to do it now.”
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