Monday, November 10, 2014

A top double-dipper is retired ESDC General Counsel Laremont, now at City Planning

Would you believe that former Empire State Development Corporation General Counsel Anita Laremont is the considered in the top five among the state's double-dippers, earning $185,000 as general counsel for the New York City Department of City Planning, while drawing a $114,166 pension for her ESDC work.

That intriguing fact emerged in a New York Post article yesterday, 600+ government employees pull in salaries and pension, based on data compiled by the Empire Center for Public Policy, which will be posted today on seethroughny.net.

“If you’re not willing to stop working on early retirement, is it fair to collect a full pension and salary?” said Tim Hoefer of the Empire Center, which will ask legislators to review the waiver system that permits it.

The Empire Center is "an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank" in Albany, which promotes "public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government." Which means it leans right. But shouldn't this be a bi-partisan issue?

Laremont's appointment

Laremont in March 2011 joined the law firm Harris Beach, practicing in the Public Finance and Economic Development and the Commercial Real Estate Practice Groups. This past March the Department of City Planning announced her appointment:
“Anita Laremont has a stellar record with an extensive background in public service, private real estate practice and land use law,” said City Planning Director [Carl] Weisbrod. “She has proven time and again that she is a capable and adept leader through her involvement with several transformative economic development initiatives. Projects that she has helped facilitate range from the 42nd Street Development and Columbia Manhattanville in Manhattan to Brooklyn Bridge Park. She also helped attract a Silicon Valley chip fabrication manufacturer to an Albany suburb that fostered a new high-tech corridor in the region...”
Somehow Atlantic Yards didn't get a mention, nor Laremont's defense of ubiquitous consultant ARKF when queried by Senator Bill Perkins. From the press release:
Laremont said, “I welcome the opportunity to provide counsel to the City Planning Department and Commission. Among the planning and land use challenges facing the City, perhaps the most immediate is the development of an affordable housing plan, a signature initiative of Mayor de Blasio. I am excited to be a part of the administration's efforts to address the needs of New York’s diverse communities, which is essential to ensuring the City’s continued growth and preeminence. I am hopeful that my experience in real estate development, land use and economic development will prove useful to advancing these goals.”
The Staten Island Advance on 3/31/14 published Staten Islander Anita Laremont named as general counsel of City Planning Department, in which she explained her move back to the public sector: "I knew that this was really a focal point for a lot of interesting issues that the city faces, and I though, 'Wow, to be engaged in those things would be really fun.'"

Regarding affordable housing, she said, "That in some respect is a major, consuming thing we're doing right now, looking all over the city for potential development sites that would be rational and in the context of their communities."

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