Applebaum says that he is indeed answering questions from the Charbonneau commission but he is not under investigation, he's merely sharing his knowledge of stuff that happened.
The reports suggest that he is being asked about dealings with developers who have ties to the mafia.
There is no specific mention of who those mafia-related people might be, but we have some ideas.
Coolopolis has previously written about how Applebaum, along with then-city councilor Marcel Tremblay, approved developer Tony Magi's condo development at Wilson and Upper Lachine at the foot of the communications tower, just across from where Magi had his recently-demolished office.
Tony Magi is alleged to have mafia ties. He survived a shooting on Cavendish a few year back, has more bodyguards outside his NDG home than a Colombian drug lord and has a brother who is not only open about his substance abuse issues but is also being sought for extradition to California on phone fraud charges.
Magi's condo development was built on a large parking lot once owned by Bell Canada.
Similarly Magi's financial obligations to extend Wilson to the tracks were similarly debated, something I never could get a solid answer on over the years.
The idea at the time was that the borough indulged the developers because they were so thrilled to have somebody build anything in what they considered a down-at-the-heels area suffering from chronic neglect. In fact the St. Raymond's parish of NDG -- where I have lived for 15 years -- is an entirely pleasant place and was in no desperate need for any quick-fix housing solution.
The Magis were also involved in another real estate thing in 2008 that ticked a lot of people off. The NDG Italian Church at 5775 St. James declined to renew their lease with a popular group for mothers called Women on the Rise.
The church offered no explanation but the longstanding community institution was reluctantly forced to move all the way up to Terrebonne and suddenly the chuch had a deal with Rino Magi to turn that facility into a resource for recovering alcoholics. A well-attended meeting put an end to that idea, which proved extremely unpopular. Some speculated that Rino had a sudden desire to do good things because he was under investigation for phone fraud in the states and sought a method of being seen as a upstanding citizen.
In December I spent a few days researching land dealings in NDG but I did it while on the clock for CTV Montreal, therefore I am not including any of that information herein and the information in this article is stuff I knew prior to that.
CTV has used parts of my research for a report on the CDN/NDG zoning committee, known as the CCU, which Applebaum oversaw. It's worth quite mindblowing.
Before Magi's condo project project was built, me and Peter McQueen (who wasn't councillor yet) tried to plead with Magi and Applebaum to allow more public consultations, for example, we wanted a pedestrian or car passageway to be built under the tracks allowing the newly-created Wilson extension to join from Upper Lachine to de Maisonneuve.
When Peter brought the tunnel idea to Applebaum's attention, he quickly shot it down, saying that the plans were already set and that such a modification would force Magi to get rid of one of the buildings on the site.
We also went to Magi's office but he refused to come out to talk to us.
(Concrete Pete is no longer raising questions about these things these days, as his Projet Montreal has now formed an executive committee alliance with Applebaum).
So the condos got built without anybody really having any idea of what they would look like on the street and they are now a just an neo-shoebox eyesore with plenty of for sale signs on them.
There was some sort of initial government subsidy to purchase the units but they were still no great deal and one of my neighbours looked at a unit with the intention of purchasing it but changed his mind and kept his apartment.
We all now know that Applebaum was a real estate agent for 15 years while being an elected official in NDG, for the first five years as councillor and the next 10 as mayor. He also led the CCU, zoning committee for many years, which he kept very secretive, unlike most other places.
He has not been forthcoming about what deals he brokered as an agent, but once told me that they were only a few a year for friends and family.
Applebaum seems honest but he would do well to be a lot more forthcoming, show all of the records of his transactions over the years, something he has not yet offered to do.