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Release: October 23, 2006
Mayor Bloomberg Says Three Men in a Room
Seems Unconstitutional and Undemocratic
Develop Don’t Destroy Says That's Right
BROOKLYN, NY—Once Forest City Ratner’s “Atlantic
Yards” proposal receives inevitable approval from the board of the Empire
State Development Corporation (ESDC), the project would have to then receive
an unanimous vote from the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB). The
PACB is currently controlled by Governor George Pataki, Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.
Last Friday, on his weekly WABC radio show, Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly criticized the very same PACB that killed the Jets Stadium, and just last week put up a major roadblock to the Moynihan Station project in Manhattan. Commenting on Assembly Speaker Silver’s squashing of Moynihan Station, the Mayor said of the PACB:
"Why is there a structure at the state level where three individuals
basically have a veto over everything? This PC, PSA, whatever
the board is that approves it. And I'm not sure why that's constitutional.
Maybe somebody wants to look at that. I don’t happen to think that it’s
good democracy to give the governor, the speaker of the assembly, and
the majority leader in the senate—no matter who they are, whether they
agree with me or not—that’s not representative democracy, that’s not letting
everybody have a say, because in fact, it isn’t everybody…
“Mayor Bloomberg is absolutely correct: three-men-in-a-room control over Ratner’s ‘Atlantic Yards,’ and other enormous development projects in New York City, is clearly undemocratic and, as he suggests, may be unconstitutional. We’ve been saying that for the past three years,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “We sure hope that the Mayor is not suggesting that he accepts and abets this undemocratic process when it suits his goals, and rejects it when it doesn’t. That would be Machiavellian. Indeed we will be ‘looking at that,’ as the Mayor urges, over the coming months.”
You can argue the governor is elected by the whole state, but then the
majority leader and the speaker are representing really only their own
districts, and that’s not what I think we should have."
In 2005 Mayor Bloomberg signed over the city’s chartered right to oversight and review of Forest City Ratner’s 8.8 million square foot “Atlantic Yards” development proposal. This decision by the Mayor gave complete control of the largest mixed-use development proposal in the history of New York City to the unaccountable and unelected ESDC and the “undemocratic” (his words) PACB. The agreed to state override took control of the project out of the hands of three community boards, the Brooklyn Borough President, City Planning Commission and the entire City Council. None of those bodies have any official role in the project, and the override of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) bypasses the City Council’s vote on such projects. Instead the ESDC and the unrepresentative PACB are the only entities that have any official role in determining the fate of the “Atlantic Yards” proposal.
“We’re with the Mayor on this one. ULURP is democratic, the state override with PACB control is an undemocratic abuse of power,” Goldstein concluded.