Sunday, May 17, 2009

After city/state claim cost of arena is trade secret, Ratner volunteers a number to the Times

(This is one in an irregular series of articles about issues that a State Senate committee might address when it holds a hearing on Atlantic Yards.)

There are two curious aspects to the New York Times's report yesterday, in the context of an article on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, on the price tag for the AY arena.

First, the Times identified the cost of the arena at $800 million, later adding, regarding Bruce Ratner, that "[h]e has also said he wants to pare the projected $1 billion cost of the arena by about $200 million."

But the arena had previously been said to cost $950 million and, while rounding up to $1 billion may be convenient, $50 million isn't chump change. So I'm going to call the price tag $750 million until further notice.

Trade secret?

More importantly, Times reporter Charles Bagli apparently didn't have to file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to get the cost estimate.

When I filed a FOIL request with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, it was rejected, and an appeal also was rejected, because it is either a trade secret or its disclosure "would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise."

When I filed a similar FOIL request with the Empire State Development Corporation, it was rejected, and an appeal also was rejected.

So, how come the cost is not a trade secret any more? There's a public policy issue here. As I wrote, if the cost is now a secret, that suggests that developers and public agencies can announce one set of numbers to the public, then turn around and keep the actual numbers secret.

4 comments:

  1. Corruption and secrecy go hand-in-hand.

    For decades, chicago has held the title of 'most corrupt city in america'.

    Move over windy city, the big apple has taken your crown.

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  2. Net Income/Bobbo venturing out of his netsdaily cocoon (see comments section). What a mistake that was!!!

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/2009/05/3678_nets_project_mo.html

    Thought you might enjoy a good laugh. I hope you post this so others can enjoy it too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm no fan of NetIncome/Bobbo, but isn't it stooping to his level to attack him anonymously/pseudonymously?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bobbo should sign his name as Bob Windrem.

    ReplyDelete