Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If Bloomberg's fortune comes from selling financial information, should he be trusted on such municipal issues? Not when it comes to AY

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, in a column yesterday (Mayor Bloomberg right on the money in supporting community banks) hailing Mayor Mike Bloomberg's effort to change a state law and allow government agencies to put their money into community banks and credit unions, wrote:
The movement will get a huge boost if New York City government follows suit, particularly with the added credibility supplied by a mayor whose personal fortune was earned selling financial information.
It's a plausible observation, but, when it comes to the mayor's performance on Atlantic Yards, it doesn't hold water.

Spinning for Ratner

Rather, Bloomberg has been more than willing to spin for Forest City Ratner, though he and his staff haven't completely gotten their ducks in a row. Consider the press release issued March 11 on the occasion of the Atlantic Yards groundbreaking.

How many jobs, Mr. Mayor?

The press release (embedded below) from Forest City Ratner:
“The Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards is the first piece of what will be one of the largest private investments and job generators in Brooklyn’s history,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The world-class arena will bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and the entire project will bring with it more than 25,000 construction and permanent jobs, thousands of units of affordable housing, and tremendous economic activity. Now more than ever, we need investments that create jobs and help build for New York City’s future, and Atlantic Yards is as significant an example of that as there is.”
(Emphases added)

The press release (embedded below) from the mayor's office:
"The Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards is the first piece of what will be one of the largest private investments and job generators in Brooklyn's history," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The world-class arena will bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and the entire project will bring with it tens of thousands of construction and permanent jobs, thousands of units of affordable housing and tremendous economic activity. Now more than ever, we need investments that create jobs and help build for New York City's future, and the Atlantic Yards is a great example of that."
Notice how the press release from the mayor's office both tamped down the superlatives and, more crucially, refused to specify the number of jobs to be created. However, they apparently didn't object to Forest City Ratner spuriously putting the figure "25,000 jobs" in Bloomberg's mouth.

Why the numbers are bogus

As I've explained, the estimate of 17,000 construction jobs is bogus, because such jobs are figured in job-years, and the number depends on a full buildout of Atlantic Yards, though the project could be 44% smaller, without penalty.

And the estimate of 8000 permanent jobs depends on fantastical configuration of office space. Even the Empire State Development Corporation estimates a figure about half that number, though its projection also depends on overoptimistic assumptions.

Fiscal impact analysis? A trade secret

And, remember, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC), controlled by Bloomberg?

When asked last year for the Atlantic Yards fiscal impact analysis it had conducted, the agency called it a trade secret.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg Atlantic Yards Arena Groundbreaking Press Release

Barclays Center Groundbreaking Press Release

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