Saturday, December 18, 2010

At Thursday's ESDC meeting, a valedictory for Chairman Dennis Mullen and an Atlantic Yards omission

That Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) board meeting Thursday may have been par for the course--the approval, without public dissent from the board--of yet another work product of ubiquitous environmental consultant AKRF--but it was also a valedictory for ESDC Chairman Dennis Mullen.

Since 2003, the ESDC has had a string of leaders, each ultimately responsible for--but, after the first, none too enthused by--Atlantic Yards: Charles Gargano, Patrick Foye, Avi Schick, Marisa Lago, and Mullen.

And Mullen is on his way out, as reported in the 12/15/10 Crain's Insider, Cuomo no longer mulling Mullen:
As Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo reviews applicants from around the country to fill positions in his administration, Dennis Mullen's résumé is no longer in the pile. The chairman of the Empire State Development Corp. has withdrawn his name from consideration, an insider says.

Mullen had been pushing hard to stay on. But his candidacy was considered a long shot, because the ESDC will be a high-profile venue for the governor-elect to execute economic policies central to his agenda. The decision to find new blood is perhaps unsurprising, given that Cuomo is likely to retain two prominent appointees, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Executive Director Chris Ward.

Mullen's withdrawal has not dimmed the prospects for Peter Davidson to stay on as ESDC's executive director, the insider says.
Well, it's hard to evaluate Mullen's role in Atlantic Yards, but it's clear Davidson won't let facts get in the way of "NYLovesBiz."

The valedictory

As shown in the video below, early in the meeting board member Kevin Corbett read a resolution of appreciation for Mullen. Among other things, Mullen will be linked to projects such as Advanced Micro Devices Global Foundries in Saratoga, Moynihan Station in New York City, Canal Side in Erie County and many other efforts, Corbett read.

The list, of course, was not comprehensive, but Atlantic Yards was an obvious omission, as project opponent Daniel Goldstein later pointed out.

(Video by Jonathan Barkey)


'This has been a privilege, an honor, to be able to do this," Mullen said in response, adding, with perhaps a reference to the citizens in the room prepared to comment about Atlantic Yards, "Not everything is agreed upon by everybody, and I think it's made it challenging. For the record, I've done the best as I possibly could do, to be as balanced as fair as I possibly could be, in the decisions throughout the state."

"I do in my heart believe we have made good decisions to be able to improve the overall economic environment for the state of New York over the past year and a half," he said, offering praise for the "dedicated employees."

"Let's move on, and make sure we don't screw anything up, for what might be our last meeting," he said.

They then went into executive session for 34 minutes. After that, they sat through public criticism of their Atlantic Yards findings from several Brooklynites, and proceeded to approve the new Technical Analysis that said a 25-year buildout would be no more burdensome, under state law, than a ten-year one.

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