Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DDDB attorney: ESDC denied documents before board meeting, conducted illegal session, admitted role as "rubber-stamp"

In a legal affirmation (embedded below) in the case regarding the Atlantic Yards timetable, Jeff Baker, attorney for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, takes aim at the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) board meeting last Thursday, saying the ESDC denied the public access to documents and conducted an illegal meeting.

Baker states:
Nevertheless, it is important for the Court to understand the extent of the deliberations by the ESDC Board of Directors to understand the cursory review they conducted and recognize that instead of customary deference, ESDC's actions should generate skepticism and the Court should grant the stay pending a final review of ESDC's compliance with SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act].
Where's the report?

Anticipating that the ESDC would prepare a report complying with Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman's ruling and thus indicating that a 25-year project buildout would not be unduly burdensome, Baker sought such documents via a Freedom of Information law Request on November 29 by fax and regular mail.

On December 14, he received a response dated December 6 and postmarked December 9.

Immediately, on December 14, Baker demanded copies of the documents that would be presented to the ESDC board on December 16, to afford meaningful comment. He got no response.

No one who provided public comment at the meeting knew the content of the documents under consideration by the ESDC.

Illegal executive session?

At the meeting, he notes, the ESDC Board was in executive session for about half an hour:
Upon information and belief, the Board members were not provided any information prior to their arrival....It is obvious that the Board did not have an opportunity to review and consider those documents before the meeting and could not be expected to read or comprehend them at the meeting.

It appears obvious that ESDC violated the Open Meetings Law by holding an illegal executive session.
He adds a piquant detail, that during the live feed of the webcast before the meeting, "I distinctly heard at least one Board member say to another that they were expected to 'rubber stamp' the Atlantic Yards resolutions."
Reply Affirmation of Jeffrey S Baker 12/17/10

Exhibits A to C for Reply Affirmation of Jeffrey S Baker 12/17/10

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