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A change at the ESDC: executive Juanita Scarlett, who had (some) AY responsibility, moves on after six months (updated/corrected)

See update and correction below.

From City & State First Read, the newsletter of City Hall and The Capitol:
Today is Juanita Scarlett's last day at the Empire State Development Corporation, where she served since January as executive vice president for strategy, policy and public affairs. Scarlett, a Democratic operative who also worked for Cuomo in the attorney general's office, is taking an unspecified job in the private sector.
I wrote about Scarlett in February, so that's a pretty swift departure, suggesting 1) a really good offer, 2) some internal agency tensions, or 3) both.

[In original: I'm told Scarlett had supervisory responsibility over Arana Hankin, Director of the Atlantic Yards Project.]

So presumably Scarlett's replacement might grapple with the ESDC's not-so-stringent approach to Forest City Ratner's (and contractors') repeated violations of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments.


I got a message from the ESDC responding to the earlier version of this post:
It is factually inaccurate and establishes a correlation between Juanita Scarlett’s departure and the management of the Atlantic Yards Project which absolutely does not exist and is nothing more than unfounded speculation on your part....

To clarify, Arana Hankin’s direct supervisor has always been Peter Davidson, ESD’s Executive Director. The Atlantic Yards Project was never in Juanita Scarlett’s portfolio; she was consulted from time to time on the public affairs and intergovernmental aspects of the project, but that is all.
I don't think I was suggesting that Scarlett's departure had anything to do with the Atlantic Yards project. Internal agency tensions could refer to a lot of things.

I did suggest--and maintain--that if she had some role in oversight, then her replacement should grapple with the ongoing issues.

I was wrong in stating that she oversaw the project, and have posted that correction as soon as I got it.

Update August 16: new job

Scarlett now works in government affairs for a law firm:
Juanita Scarlett is a Senior Strategic Advisor in the New York City office of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP. She focuses her practice on representing clients on their public affairs objectives. Ms. Scarlett was recognized by City Hall News as a member of one of New York’s “2011 Political Power Couples.”

Ms. Scarlett has held vital roles in government, communications, and the private sector.

Prior to joining MLA, Ms. Scarlett served on the staff of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as Executive Vice President for Strategy, Policy and Public Affairs at the Empire State Development (ESD) Corporation, New York State’s primary agent for economic development. In this capacity, she provided overall strategy and direction for ESD’s activities, including programming, subsidiaries, and major real estate projects. She was directly responsible for managing the agency’s Intergovernmental Affairs, Policy & Research, Public Affairs, and Economic Empowerment departments. She also oversaw ESD’s relationships with various state-wide economic development stakeholders, including local and regional business advocacy groups, key state and local elected officials, and individual company and industry representatives.

Previously, Scarlett served on the staff of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs where she oversaw local, state, and federal public and community affairs issues impacting the work of the Attorney General’s office. She also served at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as Executive Advisor for Public and Governmental Affairs where she headed New York government relations and oversaw major projects such as the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, operations at JFK and LaGuardia International Airports, and ports across New York. Ms. Scarlett was also Press Secretary to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and served as Speechwriter for the Department of Law.  She began her career as Press Officer to former New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo.

Ms. Scarlett’s extensive private sector experience includes executive positions in public affairs at the American Stock Exchange and MTV Networks.
(Emphasis added)

If she provided "overall strategy and direction" for "major real estate projects," she certainly had a voice in Atlantic Yards. It even might be part of her portfolio.


  1. "I don't think I was suggesting that Scarlett's departure had anything to do with the Atlantic Yards project."

    This is utter horseshit. A connection is exactly what Oder implied: The purpose of the blog is to discover -- or, if necessary, invent -- anything that might cast a negative light on the AY project. Oder's monomania often leads him down a blind alley; this is merely one of the times somebody bothered to correct his daily dose of lame innuendo.

  2. Let's put it plainly. I suggested that her departure might be because of "a really good offer"--standing alone. That doesn't imply anything to do with her ESD job responsibilities.

    What I implied, as readers can discern, is that the person occupying that job should grapple with the agency's ongoing failure to oversee the Atlantic Yards project. That's negative light enough.


    Errol Louis (Scarlett's husband) might even want to cover that on his NY1 show.


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