Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Whistleblowing, the ESDC, and the investigations that may or may not be happening

In a long but interesting post on his Noticing New York blog, Michael D.D. White alerts us that the Empire State Development Corporation, "the state agency theoretically most responsible for Atlantic Yards," does not have a whistleblower protection policy even though it's required, not by the public authorities reform bill passed last year but one passed in 2005.

White thinks that the indictments in Yonkers relating to Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill project might hint at some similar investigation of Atlantic Yards, but, I'd add, there's no evidence that's happening, nor is there a fact pattern similar to a Council Member dramatically changing her vote.

Could the race among candidates to replace Attorney General Andrew Cuomo turn into a race to investigate Atlantic Yards as well, as White suggests?

Well, there are always wild cards, as White notes. Still, I'd point out that one leading candidate, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, was notable last year for shying away from opportunities to look into AY, not embracing them.

Before Cuomo?

White writes:
While the Times mentioned that Atlantic Yards is likely to “likely to come before the next governor” the Times did not point out that the Mr. Cuomo has already been asked as Attorney General to investigate Forest City Ratner in connection Atlantic Yards, nor did it report that Mr. Cuomo has returned Mr. Ratner’s contributions to him. The article also passed up the opportunity to mention in the article the Times’ own business relationship to Mr. Ratner.

...All of this is to say that the issue of Atlantic Yards is clearly front and center before the Attorney General’s office. If Mr. Cuomo has not already begun an investigation of Atlantic Yards the dynamic could be very interesting when the new whistleblower-related requirement for public authorities take effect in March and are ultimately investigated (or not) by Mr. Cuomo and then by the Attorney General who is the successor to Mr. Cuomo. And who would like to guess how all this will play out?
Cuomo has been notably quiet in response to various queries and requests regarding Atlantic Yards. So there's no reason to think anything's happening.

But White suggests, based on experience, that you never know who's investigating what.

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