Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Living a Lie

As the NY Daily News reported yesterday, there is, shall we say, just a might bit of skepticism concerning the city's officially sponsored living wage study: "The Bloomberg administration has stacked the deck on a study of whether workers should be paid a "living wage" on city-backed developments, three city pols claim. "The study will be subject to the biases of a study team that is being chosen by the mayor's office," wrote representatives of Controller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr."

What the three pols are asking, is for the IDA Board to trash the study's subsidy: "They are three of 15 members of the Industrial Development Agency board and will ask the others on Monday to rescind their June decision to pay $1 million to study a living wage proposal."

This would, in our view, be a good start towards to a city wide policy of putting such studies out to independent bid-and all of those fraudulent environmental impacts studies should be next on the chopping block. For far too long the city-particularly EDC-has colluded with consultants at the expense of not only the deluded public, but the truth as well.

What the city does is select consultants whose allegiance is ruled by monetary expedience: "The three critics say the economists at Charles River Associates doing the study are opposed to any minimum wage at all and are working under terms set by the mayor. "Their involvement in this process will not lead to a fair and balanced evaluation of the merits of a 'living wage,'" Diaz said."

EDC, of course, is tone deaf: "Seth Pinsky, head of the city Economic Development Corp., defended the study as a rigorous examination by leading experts with no agenda but the truth. "Just because we have opinions on the subject does not mean that we are 'cooking the books,'" Pinsky wrote in a response to the critics. "My recommendation would be for us to move forward in good faith and have a vigorous discussion about the results of this important study when they are available."

So, let's have this out in as public way as possible-and confront the administration on as many levels as possible. New Yorkers deserve an honest evaluation of policies that are being proposed-as well as land use applications that could transform their neighborhoods. Instead we too often get studies that are the equivalent of dealing from the bottom of the deck. It's got to stop-and this lying living wage study is as good a place as any.