Good Time Charlie Rangel Celebrates as Times Outs Developer Pal

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Growing evidence yesterday that the mid-summer heat is frying everyone's brains. In the Mets clubhouse at Citifield, K-Rod head-butts his father in law. He is arrested. David Dinkins, the most dignified politician to ever walk up the City Hall steps, flips the bird to a protestor outside the Charlie Rangel birthday party at the Plaza. He proudly confirms the incident. Rangel, facing multiple ethics sanctions, struts the stage. "This damn sure ain't no funeral," he cries. Rangel's battle cry headed into the fall elections is this: "Me First!"

The old Harlem walrus's biggest birthday present came this morning on the front page of the Times where his name never surfaced in the excellent investigative probe of the absurdly special treatment doled out by city housing officials to Lloyd Williams, a member of Harlem's royalty and a Rangel favorite and ally for years.

Williams is the president and CEO of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and the head of Harlem Week, which begins this weekend. He also runs something called the Greater Harlem Development Corporation which got special help from city councilmember Inez Dickens in landing millions for a housing project that Williams had milked for years, reports the Times' Russ Buettner. Lenders twice tried to foreclose on a cluster of apartment houses -- nine of them purchased from the city for all of $38,000 -- that Williams had promised but failed to rehab. In 1997, reports Buettner, one lender claimed that someone was "misappropriating" $50,000 a month in rents from the project. In 2005, Williams' group was $320,000 behind the eight-ball in taxes. Tenants wrote a housing court judge complaining of "years of mismanagement" and "neglect and deplorable conditions."

The deal to bail out Williams occurred right when the Bloomberg administration was trying to win Dickens' support for its vast Harlem rezoning plan. Dickens' father preceded Williams as head of the Harlem chamber and Williams was a major fundraiser in her 2005 election to the council.

Despite the city's bailout, Williams' group threw up its hands admitting in papers filed in court this March that it is "unable to maintain the infrastructure and staff to provide property management." The solution? Let the group sell a chunk of the property for $1.5 million to a private development firm. That would be a pretty sweet dividend for a group that originally paid $388,000 for the entire parcel. The proposal is pending.


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