Saturday, June 25, 2011

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: no, the City Council never held sway (and thus campaign finance reform had no impact)

In Huffington Post, New York Civic's Morgan Pehme explains how the city's campaign finance system, which guarantees candidates matching funds (unlike candidates for state offices), is in jeopardy.

The headline is Pulling the Trigger: U.S. Supreme Court Threatens Campaign Finance Reform in NYC.

I commented:
Please note that the situation regarding Atlantic Yards was even less democratic than described: "In the case of a massive, multi-hund­red-millio­n-dollar project like Atlantic Yards... it becomes clear why a real estate mogul might want to drop a mere million dollars to win a Council seat, if that outlay virtually assured approval of a controvers­ial building or complex."

With Atlantic Yards, the local City Council member, Letitia James, never got to vote, because the mayoral administra­tion agreed to have the approval process bypass the city's typical Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and instead be shepherded by the unelected Empire State Developmen­t Corporatio­n, controlled by gubernator­ial appointees­.

Even former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff has said, in hindsight, that Atlantic Yards should have gone through ULURP.

That said, ULURP has its problems and the local City Council member does not always hold sway. For example, the administra­tion, along with Council leadership­, outmaneuve­red Council Member Stephen Levin on the New Domino project in Williamsbu­rg.

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