Friday, January 08, 2010

Now available, full hearing video of January 5 state Senate oversight hearing on ESDC and eminent domain

The state Senate has posted a full video of the four-hour-plus hearing held January 5, chaired by state Senator Bill Perkins, on eminent domain, spurred by the Appellate Division's ruling that overturned--for now--the state's use of eminent domain for the Columbia University expansion.

I've covered several aspects, including the hiring of consultant AKRF; the murky Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation, or BALDC; the fact that the blight determination is seemingly made by the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) board; and the need to reform eminent domain and the definition of blight.

But the video, especially the first hour, is worth a look, since it shows the three ESDC representatives on the spot. General Counsel Anita Laremont, at center, did most of the talking, while Executive VP Darren Bloch, at right, chimed in occasionally, and Executive Director Peter Davidson remained silent.

As the screenshot suggests, both Bloch and Davidson looked (understandably) not-so-comfortable while their agency--which Laremont perhaps more accurately called "my entity"--was on the spot.

As the video shows, Perkins started somewhat unsteadily in his questioning of the ESDC reps, then gained focus, asking persistently about the perception of collusion between the ESDC and project sponsors.

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