Monday, January 11, 2010

The ESDC: "quasi-governmental corporation," "public benefit corporation," "economic development agency," or just an "entity"?

Empire State Development is New York’s chief economic development agency," according to a press release from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) regarding the Atlantic Yards project.

In legal papers, plaintiffs in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case called the ESDC "a quasi-governmental corporation comprised of unelected directors beholden only to the Governor," and said that argued for less deference compared to decisions by elected legislative bodies on eminent domain, as case law suggested.

Given that the ESDC board consists mainly of team players and big donors--now more the former--I wrote in December 2006 that is best seen as an extension of the office of Governor George Pataki.

State law calls it "a corporate governmental agency of the state, constituting a political subdivision and public benefit corporation," which a federal judge has shorthanded to a "public entity."

So ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont was not incorrect in calling it (below) "my entity" during testimony at a January 5 oversight hearing chaired by state Senator Bill Perkins. But should "entities" be in charge of determining blight and eminent domain?

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