Friday, June 05, 2009

Observer: internal ESDC turmoil leads to resignation of CEO Lago; AYR: did testimony gnaw at her conscience?

The New York Observer reports that Empire State Development Corporation CEO Marisa Lago has resigned after little more than nine months in her post.

She was appointed last August, along with Upstate ESDC President Dennis Mullen. No Downstate President has been appointed, and the tensions between Lago and Chairman Bob Wilmers were the subject of an Observer report last month.

(Update 8: 40 pm June 7: Here's coverage in the Times and the official press release, which note that Mullen will now be in charge and cite Lago's statement that she has been approached about other positions.)

AY angle?

There's no evidence that Lago's performance on Atlantic Yards led to her resignation, but her deceptive testimony at last Friday's state Senate oversight hearing (video excerpt here) could not have impressed her superiors. And perhaps it gnawed a bit at her conscience.

What does this mean for Atlantic Yards? Unclear, but maybe it's good to have volunteer help, given the role of Susan Rahm, who has a murky role, perhaps as project manager. Someone will have to be in charge of the ESDC on June 24 when the authority is expected to adopt a revision of the Modified General Project Plan for AY.

When the project was approved, Charles Gargano ran the ESDC. The Spitzer Administration brought in Patrick Foye. When Foye left, Avi Schick was acting head. Lago came next. (DDDB has a list of more Atlantic Yards players who've moved on.)

From the Observer

Today's article states:
[H]er departure adds to the turmoil at an agency that has seen its fair share in recent years. The agency, which oversees incentive programs statewide and large-scale development projects in New York City, has been rocked by infighting, both between Ms. Lago and ESDC chairman Bob Wilmers, and among top Spitzer administration officials as well....

According to multiple people who have talked with Ms. Lago directly, she has expressed unhappiness in the position, perhaps in part because she did not have as strong a connection with the governor or his top aides as did previous officials in that post.

5 comments:

  1. Marisa Lago did not resign. She was fired by Forest City Ratner for telling the truth ( "AYP would take decades"). See, concurring opinion of Judge Catterson:

    "... ESDC is a tool of the developer..."

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  2. "...but her deceptive testimony at last Friday's state Senate oversight hearing (video excerpt here) could not have impressed her superiors."

    It seems that the ESDC has been withholding regarding information about the Atlantic Yards project for the entire history of the project, and Lago's testimony seemed in keeping with that strategy. Could you kindly clarify why her superiors might have been dissatisfied with her testimony?

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  3. Well, once you see it on video, she doesn't sound so convincing.

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  4. Susan Rahm and the General Counsel's Office both seem to be Ratner's "paid" inside players. Week after month after year they counsel positions and contractual changes that are uniformly in the interest of the developer not the ESDC, State or Public.

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  5. I'd like to see some evidence behind the above comment.

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