Crain's Insider (subsc) is reporting that there was a lot of in-fighting on the John Liu task force on community benefits-and in the end, two of the more extreme positions (or at least most controversial) were not entertained: "After six months of deliberation, a task force on community benefit agreements convened by Comptroller John Liu never addressed what pro-development critics said was the most pressing question: Should the deals that developers cut with community groups in exchange for political support of their mega-projects exist in the first place? Also missing from the recommendations in the task force's report are specific living-wage, job training and affordable-housing provisions—all of which were priorities of the union members on the board."
Well, we guess all of that went over our head-or below our radar-because we didn't catch the draft from those prevailing winds; but as to the first position, let's just say that it would have been absurd to confront the issue of whether CBAs are appropriate since it was the basic assumption of the task force that, since these agreements are here to say, it is important to try to codify them in a way that allows for some degree of predictability for all of the stakeholders-including developers. Or, in other words, we ain't putting that genie back in the bottle any time soon.
As for living wage, we didn't get the sense that the RWDSU's Stu Appelbaum-described as, "an outsized personality"-was putting on a full court press on the task force to insure the inclusion of living wage in the final report. There seemed to be an agreement that this wasn't the right venue for the issue to be aired-even if the agreement may have been grudging at times.
But there should be no conclusion that there was any degree of great acrimony in the group that Liu assembled-as only a very small number of folks bailed on participating. That being said, the dumbest quote of the day goes to the city's former HPD commissioner: "Jerilyn Perine, a former commissioner for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, resigned after the first meeting. By last week, three more of the 33 board members had followed her out the door. “The underlying assumption was that development in your community is bad, and you as a community need to be able to band together to fight against [it,]” Ms. Perine recalls. “Why assume that our current land-use process doesn't balance the good and the bad?”
This is known as addition by subtraction-and Perine exemplifies what the pollster Scott Rasmussen calls the, "political class;" a group enamored of top down government solutions, and skeptical of the wisdom of the unwashed. For Perine, the "underlying assumption," is that development is good-a product of the wisdom of the so-called experts who really know what is good for you.
That she fails to recognize that much of what passes for planning in the realm of economic development-as Dr. Angotti has pointed out-is driven by the interests of certain connected real estate firms. In this regard the conclusion of the Liu report about why CBA reform is needed is much closer to the truth of NYC development than the observations of the former Bloombergista "The final report called the agreements an “unfortunate byproduct” that “arise because the City does not effectively plan for its neighborhoods and insufficiently considers community needs.”