Thursday, September 24, 2009

Soviet-style math: from requested cost-benefit analysis to delivered "economic benefit analysis"

Let's keep our eye on the ball. The issue isn't who owns the Nets and can put money into improving their fortunes. The reasons for scrutiny of the Atlantic Yards project have hardly diminished.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a notable critic of the Yankee Stadium deal (who has offered muted criticism of the Atlantic Yards deal), likes to refer to the unelected city and state authorities and agencies that have steered such deals as of “Soviet-style bureaucracies.”

Maybe we should start using the term "Soviet-style math" to describe aspects of the Atlantic Yards deal.

Cost-benefit analysis denied

Consider this response from the Empire State Development Corporation to public comments.

Comment 6: Numerous comments requested that a new cost-benefit analysis be prepared for the Project and stated that more information about project finances, including subsidies, tax exemptions, and payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOTs), should be made available to the public.

Response: The Project’s financing program is described in the MGPP. The MGPP sets forth all tax exemptions and PILOT obligations with respect to the Project. The economic and fiscal benefits set forth in the MGPP have been updated and included in the ESDC Board materials.

(Emphases added)

A cost-benefit analysis does not simply entail "economic and fiscal benefits." Here's more on the Independent Budget Office report and the ESDC's switch from "economic impact analysis" to "economic benefit analysis."

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