To further emphasize the lack of voter representation in permitting the Zaida project to progress to this proposal stage, one only needs to look further into our city institutions and organizations to understand the substantial influence being exerted out of sight of voters.

While most residents have had no say over even the idea of this project, much less any referendum on changes to the zoning codes to even permit such a large project, certain residents have exercised substantial influence through “charity” – not only overturning the proposed building moratorium, but also allowing this project to get past the Common Counsel at the very initial stages without public discussion or referendum on the zoning changes necessary to allow it to even exist.

One can see how influence can work by just following the money.

A case in point- here is the IRS link for the Up Mobility 2022 tax filing, showing the contributions made that year in section 14 of the filing.

Up Mobility is based in Little Falls, on Waverly Place, and in the past it has posted comments to MyLittle Falls, and I am sure elsewhere.This is a sample of how influence occurs.

https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/471689125_202212_990PF_2023082421539992.pdf

Note the following:

1.) Little Falls City School District: Donated by Up Mobility: $242,000 (almost the entire amount reported for donations by the district that year). There is substantial concern over the cost and impact of this proposed project on the school system and budget, and ALL tax payers will bear that cost. Does the School District ever disclose the source of its donations? What kind of influence do these contributions have to mute opposition to Zaida?

2.) ICAN: Donated by Up Mobility: $100,000. This is the same group that will be involved with assisting the residents at the proposed Zaida project (and the Dairyman Project). Since the father of the head of ICAN recently resigned from the Zoning Board, a replacement will need to be appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Common Council in July.

Question: Why do we not get to see the names and background of all candidates for Board positions PRIOR to the Common Council meetings?? This, along with not seeing the Common Council meeting agendas days prior to the meetings, are a real weakness in the City’s governance and transparency (and exactly why we were not aware of this project earlier).

3.) Donations to several other organizations that touch upon various aspects of the City institutions and organizations such at the City itself, Community Chest among others.

And this information is for a non-profit organization large enough to file with the IRS. We’re not even seeing other smaller related non-profits controlled by the investors, nor are we seeing how city officials are associated with the organizations benefiting from these gifts.

In-and-of themselves, charitable contributions are not problematic- we should welcome donations to help booster city organizations and other non-profits. However, what is problematic is the tie-in to the investors in the Zaida Project, precisely because these gifts gain influence at the elected official and appointed board level, while at the same time the voters and taxpayers of the city do not have a say.

Respectfully,

A. Twitchell
Little Falls, New York