Friday, May 21, 2010

Another great letter courtesy of Ben Haber

Letter to the Times Ledger:

City Comptroller John Liu is to be commended for his audit of the city Economic Development Corp. and, if he is correct, the EDC has been shortchanging the city to the tune of millions of dollars (“Liu finds EDC owes city more than $125M,” Flushing Times, May 6-12).

Lest the public be confused, it must be noted that while the EDC is a city agency, funds improperly withheld by it belong to the city’s general fund and would be available for general city purposes. Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a similar argument recently in connection to funds collected by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Bloomberg will, of course, make no complaint about the EDC because he approves, if not dictates, what it pursues. The purpose of the EDC as it has operated under the Bloomberg administration is not to create economic growth for the benefit of city residents, but for Bloomberg’s fat cat real estate friends.

The EDC has no interest in the poor, the middle class and the small business owner. A case in point is the EDC’s grant to former Borough President Claire Shulman’s group of $450,000, which has raised questions as to whether it was improperly being used to lobby City Council members to support the mayor’s and the EDC’s plan to destroy the many small Willets Point businesses for the benefit of a private real estate interest.

The time has come to recognize the EDC does not exist as a city agency charged with pursuing that which benefits all city residents, but as a group endowed with taxpayer funds which it uses for the benefit of real estate interests. The EDC must be overhauled with the public having a meaningful say in its operations.

If that cannot be accomplished, the agency should be abolished.

Benjamin M. Haber