Friday, December 18, 2009

What about the AY fiscal impact analysis promised by the NYC EDC? It's a trade secret

So, whatever happened to the Atlantic Yards fiscal impact analysis promised by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) last June?

It's a trade secret, given that the agency rejected my Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. And that's odd, because the NYC EDC cited the document in an effort to convince the public that the arena and project made fiscal sense.

Nor has the Empire State Development Corporation released a credible cost-benefit analysis. Despite significant questions about the benefits of the project to the public, judges--such as the one in the case regarding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's revision of the Vanderbilt Yards deal--have deferred to agency projections that are fantasies.

IBO vs. NYC EDC

Remember, at a state Senate oversight hearing on May 29, an IBO representative offered testimony that asserted the AY arena would be a money-loser for the city. )That testimony was followed up in a September report.)

I criticized testimony by NYC EDC president Seth Pinsky for relying on an outdated, not credible analysis from 2005.

Promises, promises

On June 1, WNYC reported:
[Spokesman David] Lombino says the Economic Development Corporation will release an updated economic analysis soon, reflecting the changes to the project since the last one in June 2005.
On June 3, the New York Daily News reported similarly:
A spokesman for the Economic Development Corp. insisted that by only analyzing the arena - and not the 16 residential and commercial towers also proposed for the site - the IBO had released inconclusive information.

"In light of new conditions, the city is updating a cost-benefit analysis, and any decisions related to the project will be informed by this revised analysis with the goal of ensuring a significant net positive fiscal impact to the city," said EDC spokesman David Lombino.
But it never was released.

Asking for the document

In a FOIL request, I asked for "any NYCEDC cost-benefit analysis of the Atlantic Yards project conducted in 2008 or 2009."

I was told no:
Please be advised that NYCEDC has withheld the remainder of the requested documents as documents determined to be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the following FOIL Section(s):

§87 (2)(d) records that are trade secrets or are submitted to an agency by a commercial enterprise or derived from information obtained from a commercial enterprise and which if disclosed would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise;

§87 (2)(g) records that are inter-agency or intra-agency materials which are not: (i) statistical or factual tabulations or data, (ii) instructions to staff that affect the public, (iii) final agency policy or determinations or (iv) external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government.

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