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March 9, 2007
Deval czar feted at NorthPoint law firm
By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Herald Business Reporter

[Editor’s Note: Gregory Bialecki, the state’s expedited permitting chief, contends that he has distanced himself from involvement in the Patrick Administration attempt to weaken the Public Waterfront Act on behalf of NorthPoint developers. But after saying this, he attended a reception in his honor at his former law firm which is the legal counsel for NorthPoint. The separation between Bialecki the public servant and Bialecki the developer lobbyist appears to be paper thin. Boston Herald report on the event is reprinted below.]

The Patrick administration faces another controversy. But this time it has nothing to do with a cars or drapes. Instead, it involves a reception for one of its top development officials.

Critics of the NorthPoint project in Cambridge took aim yesterday at Greg Bialecki, the administration’s newly appointed real estate permitting guru.

Bialecki yesterday was scheduled to attend a reception in his honor put on by the Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development.

But it was the venue that angered opponents of the project: the downtown Boston offices of DLA Piper, the law firm that represents NorthPoint. It’s also the law firm that Bialecki worked at before he took on his new post, serving for years as NorthPoint’s legal chief.

Critics of the big project contend it’s just the latest example of cozy ties between top officials at the Patrick Administration and NorthPoint’s developers. The developers have been criticized for pushing through a development plan lacking in parkland or public gathering places.

While Bialecki was the project’s top lawyer, Daniel O’Connell, the state’s housing and economic development czar, headed the NorthPoint development team. Both have recused themselves from any decisions made about the project, administration officials have said.

“It’s an indication that these people have a tin ear,” Richard Clarey, a Cambridge lawyer and activist, said of the Patrick Administration’s political instincts.

But Kofi Jones, a spokeswoman for the department of Housing and Economic Development, said Bialecki did nothing wrong.

The law firm just happened to provide the space where the nonprofit economic development group held its event. “There is nothing inappropriate,” Jones said. “There is nothing to hide there.”

For more information on the NorthPoint project, see Community-Guided Development.

  

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