By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Guy Molinari's biggest lobbying payday is coming from the Florida-based International Speedway Corporation, which is seeking to build a NASCAR raceway on a huge 660-acre swath of property beneath the Goethals Bridge. Reports show that the company has signed a three-year consulting contract with the former borough president, agreeing to pay him up to $540,000 at a rate of $15,000 per month. Although Molinari partner John D'Amato is also working for the company, contract language makes it clear that it's Molinari they want: The deal is void if the former borough president leaves the firm.
Molinari said the contract's unusual length wasn't his idea. "It was their estimation it would take three years before they get all their approvals."
Molinari inked his deal with the company last May and brought his new client straight to City Hall to meet with the mayor. "I contacted somebody in the mayor's office asking for the meeting, like we do with all elected officials," said Molinari.
In addition to Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff attended, as did Economic Development Corporation president Andrew Alper. On Molinari's side of the table were the speedway operators, along with their local partner, Related Companies, which is seeking to build a giant mall alongside the track. Steve Ross, chairman of Related and a close friend of Doctoroff, was among those attending, said Molinari.
"We gave about a 40-minute presentation," he said. "The mayor didn't take a position. He said, 'Go out and show the public and the elected officials what you want to do,' and that's what we are doing."
Much of Molinari's efforts have targeted James Molinaro, who succeeded him as borough president. Molinaro has said he is withholding judgment, but most local elected officials have been markedly cool, arguing that the already traffic-clotted borough can't cope with a venture that could bring upwards of 80,000 people to the island on racing days.