Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Unaccountable Development and the Special Interests

In today's NY Daily News, Juan Gonzales goes after the Pfizer Company for failing to increase employment as a condition of a lavish tax break orchestrated by EDC: "This makes Pfizer the latest giant company to milk the city for lucrative tax breaks by promising to create jobs - only to turn around and cut its workforce. Four years ago, Pfizer signed an agreement for nearly $10 million in tax breaks with the Bloomberg administration. In return, the company promised to increase total employment at its Manhattan headquarters and its Brooklyn plant from 5,735 to 8,659."

Now the administration refuses to go after Pfizer to recoup the losses incurred by tax payers: "Last September, Pfizer quietly informed EDC it wouldn't be meeting its goal. The city then suspended the deal. By then, it was too late: Pfizer had received virtually all the tax breaks.
The Bloomberg administration, which has long promised to end such corporate welfare, says it has no intention of asking for the taxpayers' money back."

Of course it won't, it too busy whacking the ability of small businesses to remain competitive-and running out the merchants at the BTM to make way for a real estate sweetheart deal. Not to mention the attempt by EDC to close La Marqueta on Moore Street-putting more small merchants out in the street to pave the way for development.

Now Pfizer is looking to make a killing on the sale of its factory site, with a development deal that will be subject to a number of city approvals. It's time for the company to be made to pay back. The Pfizer site would be ideal for the building of a brand new supermarket-along with a number of other important city goals like affordable housing. If the city is serious about healthy food options and affordable housing, then Pfizer is a wonderful test case. It's time that this administration put its money where its mouth is.