Monday, October 03, 2005

Daily News Examines BTM Deal

In a Sunday story in the Daily News, Bill Egbert examines the BTM deal and questions not only its fairness but also whether the city, in sole sourcing the development rights, got shortchanged. The priceless quote belongs to Goldman Sachs’s own Andrew Alper (on loan to EDC and acting as its president).

Alper tells the News that "Given the cards we were dealt here...this was an outstanding deal." In saying this, Alper is actually making the first case in card playing history where a stacked deck is transformed into an example of skillful card playing. As he went on to admit, a request for proposal, i.e. an actual bid process, "might have resulted in more money for the city" (Clearly, as this shrewd observation reveals, Alper's ascension to managing partner at G-S was not a result of nepotism).

The entire nature of this insider swindle still awaits a more thorough investigation. Perhaps only criminal charges will lead to the uncovering of the full nature of how Dollar-a-year-Dan rigged the deal for his friend Ross. What's fascinating in the article is the city's admission that, even though it had been litigating with the Buntzman family for years, it needed to act quickly to prevent the slumlord from winning a $100 court judgment.

Given this dire possibility the quick thinking deputy mayor did what any other official would have done under the circumstances: he called his best friend for help. Would anyone in this ridiculous narrative voluntarily submit to a polygraph? A reporter once said to us that, while the deal might look questionable there's no direct evidence of collusion. Yet isn't it quite remarkable that of all the good developers in this city the firm that ends up with this sweetheart arrangement just happens to have close ties to Dan Doctoroff?

In fact, going back to Charles Bagli's excellent expose of the Doctoroff-Ross relationship last November, there are a number of other good examples of apparent favoritism by the Bloomberg administration that has benefited the Related Companies and Steve Ross. So, perhaps it wasn't the case with the BTM but as the proverb goes, "The race doesn't always go to the swift, but that's the way to bet."