Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ten months later, still waiting for a response to my FOIL request about state official Peter Davidson's trip to China promoting Forest City Ratner's misleading "green cards for investments" venture

On 10/5/10, I sent the following letter to the Empire State Development Corporation (aka Empire State Development):
Under the Freedom of Information Law, I request records regarding Executive Director Peter Davidson's planned trip to China this month on behalf of the New York City Regional Center's effort, under the EB-5 visa program, to market an investment in Atlantic Yards.

Specifically, I seek records, including but not limited to correspondence to, from, and within the Empire State Development Corporation, that explain:
--the cost and itinerary of the trip
--what Mr. Davidson is expected to do (outline of remarks, etc)
--the solicitation for and decision to make the trip
--any evaluation on ESDC's part of the job numbers used by NYCRC
Last week, I received yet another letter from the state agency telling me they were still evaluating my request and searching for responsive records. I am to get an update on that search, and possible delivery of such records, by September 29.

I wonder why it's taking so long. Is the information really that obscure?

What we've learned

Meanwhile, of course, we've learned part of the answer to the second item.

Davidson (above and left, with locally based immigration consultants, providing proclamations) assserted that Atlantic Yards "will be the largest job-creating project in New York City in the last 20 years.”

The agency had not made such a claim previously, and there's no evidence that's true.

Nor were immigrant investors being asked to put their money into the Atlantic Yards project as a whole, which--though not the "largest job-creating project"--would at least be larger than the Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project, limited to the arena, railyard, and infrastructure.

And, as we later learned, even NYCRC officials acknowledged that, despite the hype, the investors were not going to be putting their money into an already-funded arena.

Here's a wrap-up on my "Anatomy of a Shady Deal" series, and additional coverage. Here's a comment on the curiously cursory coverage in the New York Times.

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