This photo has been making the rounds on Facebook, with the description removed and the photo cropped. It shows a Diwali celebration that took place back in November, which the local elected officials were invited to as honorees. Harshad Patel, owner of the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express and 2 hotels in Bellerose that were used as shelters last year but as of January 10, 2017 were no longer housing homeless (thanks in part to our protests), was also invited. The honored guests were called up to the stage and presented with flowers. Patel was neither honoring the electeds nor vice versa. They were all being honored by an Indian senior citizen organization.

The fact that Council Member Barry Grodenchik himself was the source of the photo and publicly posted it proves that no one was attempting to hide their participation in the event. Some people are alleging that this photo is somehow a smoking gun and means that these elected officials are in cahoots with Patel to screw Maspeth over which is one of the more preposterous conspiracy theories to have come out of the shelter fight.

Avella was the one who wrote the explosive letter to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alerting him to the fact that the city was doing business with someone who admitted to past bribery of an elected official. He attended one of the nightly protests at the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express and participated in the March for Maspeth. The bottom line is that he has worked on resolving Maspeth issues for more than a decade and has done everything asked of him with regard to the shelter issue.