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Times revises stance on public authority reform, agrees land should be sold at below-market rates

After wholeheartedly endorsing landmark legislation reforming the state's public authorities less than a month ago, the New York Times--after listening to Mayor Mike Bloomberg and maybe even Forest City Ratner--agrees that the legislation should be revised somewhat.

The editorial, headlined New York's Shadow Government, states:
The bill could benefit from a few changes, but the crux of it should remain intact: requiring the state comptroller to review large contracts; establishing an independent budget office to oversee these secretive entities; giving each authority independent directors charged with protecting its mission and bottom line.

Mr. Bloomberg’s main complaint is that the bill requires directors to pledge to do their “fiduciary duty” by protecting the authority’s finances. He seems to think the directors should listen more to politicians — like himself — who appoint them.

The mayor’s most valid criticism is that the legislation would make it harder to create affordable housing or small-business projects. It would bar authorities from selling land below market value, and many such projects are financially out of reach if the property goes for its full market price. The bill could also be improved if it would keep the State Senate out of the loop when it comes to approving executives at these authorities.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who is in charge of the bill, should not send it to the governor until the Legislature can make these few small improvements. But the new mandate for directors as well as other reforms must be left intact.

(Emphases added)

Few small improvements?

The fiduciary duty connects directly to selling land at below-market rates, as Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has said, and the most direct example concerns the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, which at this point would be used far less for affordable housing than for a profitable arena for Forest City Ratner, which, of course, was the partner with the newspaper's parent company on the new Times Tower.

In other words, it's not being sold to a government agency to build housing. It's being sold to a private developer who, with sufficient subsidies, may build housing.