Friday, March 16, 2012


The Queens Tribune has an excellent story on the refusal of EDC to release the names of all the developers who have bid on the phony Phase I on the Willets Point development:

"New York City’s Economic Development Corporation has not yet disclosed the names of developers seeking to transform the auto repair shop oasis that is Willets Point, infuriating its opposition, Willets Point United. This year EDC will reward a contract to a private developer to turn the 62-acre Iron Triangle into what some hope will be a hub of commercial activity; the most ardent supporters of the development dream that the cratered streets that wend among the dizzying number of repair shops, scrap yards and waste processing sites will be swapped for retail outlets, hotels and perhaps a convention center. EDC denied WPU’s Freedom of Information Law request for names of the developers, though the deadline for proposals to be submitted was Sept. 9, 2011."

Does the agency have just cause? Not according to the Committee on Open Government: "EDC, however, will not confirm any of the names, and since the deadline has passed for applicants to respond, there is no good reason for the names to be kept from the public, said Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government. “The developers are on equal footing if the deadline is reached,” Freeman said. “I don’t see any conceivable basis for withholding these names.”

This is par for the EDC course-always with a sharp dogleg away from transparency and the truth. As WPU points out: "An exasperated Jake Bono, a Willets Point property owner and member of WPU, agrees with Freeman. He said EDC’s lack of disclosure perplexes him. “We shouldn’t even have to ask for the names,” Bono said. “They should be there on the website instead of a bio of how great they are. It should say what they’re doing.”

Transparency is important here because EDC can't be trysted to tell the truth and will alter its public plans if it suits the needs of its crony capitalist clientele: "It’s important to disclose the names of the developers because EDC clearly cannot be held to its word,” a spokesperson for WPU said. “The need for transparency is paramount.”

The Tribune also reports on the eminent domain legislation that has recently passed the House and is headed on to the senate: "In the case of eminent domain, a bill just passed in the House of Representatives may present a future obstacle for EDC. The “Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2011” would curtail the powers of eminent domain nationally. Its ultimate passage is still far from assured, however, and any curtailing of eminent domain would require the overturning of a Supreme Court decision."

Of course if the Senate does pass the bill and the president signs it the Supreme Court Kelo decision will be nullified-and that would be a great day for property rights and a blow to those like Mike Bloomberg who is a zealous protector of those rights only if he himself owns the land in question.