The above 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 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 not honoring Avella 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 is evidence that no one was attempting to hide their participation in the event.
Some people are alleging that this photo somehow "proves" the electeds are in cahoots with Patel to screw over Maspeth which is one of the more preposterous conspiracy theories to have come out of this 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. As soon as that hit the press, it was announced that the permanent shelter plan was off. 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. He is running for mayor against the person responsible for this mess and deserves our consideration in the September primary.